What You Should Know About Overcoming Self-Doubt
Have you heard the saying… “Once the rice is pudding, it’s too late to reclaim the rice” In other words – once it’s gone, it’s gone.
I think this saying is very relevant when it comes to seizing opportunities and overcoming self-doubt.
I’m talking about those everyday opportunities; perhaps a chance to present your opinion, to say what you think or to ask your question. These opportunities are the ones I find are missed most often.
So many people tell me they struggle when it comes to speaking up and saying what they think. They know what they want to say but they just can’t get the words out. Self-doubt is stopping them and before they know it the opportunity has been missed. The time has passed and once it’s gone… it’s gone.
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Does this situation sound familiar?
You’re in a work meeting, classroom, at a social event…. You have a valid question or point to make. You formulate your thoughts (usually word for word) in your head. You know exactly what you want to say. You know it makes sense. You’re even confident in your mind that you’re right. The words are literally on the tip of your tongue.
In your head, you repeat what you want to say. You know your point or question is a good one. You start thinking about what will happen when you speak. A voice in your head is saying… what if I’m wrong, what if my point is irrelevant, what if I get asked a difficult question… what if… what if…
Then, it’s too late.
The time has passed. The conversation has already moved on. Or, even worse, someone else has made the exact same point you wanted to make (and taken the credit).
How frustrating. That could have been you.
For some people this may happen several times a day. The more it happens, the harder it is to break free from that nagging voice in your head.
That nagging voice which makes you question yourself. Makes you question your own knowledge and ability. That nagging voice is called self-doubt.
Self-doubt plagues us all. It’s only natural to question ourselves from time to time. But when you continually let it stop you doing or saying the things you know you should, it becomes a mental barrier to gaining self-confidence.
Once you start questioning yourself in your head, you’ve entered a Danger Zone. Your aim is stop yourself entering this Danger Zone. You need to avoid the “what ifs” at all costs. Overcoming self-doubt is essential if you want to speak up and sound confident.
So how can you do that? The good news is that overcoming self-doubt is possible.
Here are 6 tips that will help:
1. Tell yourself you know more than you think.
Ask yourself… when was the last time someone questioned your opinion? When were you last wrong? Whenever I ask this question to people who doubt themselves, there’s a silence. They can’t think of a situation. It’s irrational to make the assumption you’re wrong if you can’t remember it happening before.
2. Prepare yourself for the voice that will try to stop you.
Forewarned is for forearmed as they say. If you know you’re about to enter the Danger Zone, you are aware that the ‘voice’ is waiting to hijack you. You’ll be in a stronger position to stop it. Be super-aware the next time you sense self-doubt creeping in, and then literally exclude the voice. Do not allow it a say in the matter. Block out the “what ifs.”
3. Don’t wait for someone to invite you to get involved or share your thoughts.
People who doubt themselves often expect an invitation to speak. If you have something to say, say it. Don’t overthink it. You have as much right to speak as anyone else. Remind yourself that people will respect you more for sharing your thoughts.
4. Know how you look and sound.
If you make use of your voice, facial expressions and hands it will make a huge difference to how you come across to people. You can project confidence by making some small adjustments. Being able to control how you look and sound will boost your confidence and encourage you to speak up.
5. Consider the worst case scenario.
Think to yourself – “what’s the worst that can happen?” Is it really going to be that bad? If you doubt yourself, your default position will be to expect the worst. Counteract this by trying to think of the last time something catastrophic happened as a result of you doing or saying something. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to recall such a catastrophe. Your imagination is fooling you.
6. Stop past failures getting in your way.
Squeeze what you can from any failures you’ve had and then set them aside. Bad memories are often the reason why you stop yourself doing things. You can’t expel these experiences from your mind completely but with disciplined thinking, you should be able to put them to the back of your mind so that they don’t interfere with your decision making.
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