We all know it, that voice in our head that plays on repeat phrases like:
“Am I good enough?”
“Is this unique enough?”
“I don’t deserve this.”
“I’m not ready.”
Although it is easy feel that you are the only person who struggles with this type of negative thinking, the truth is that everyone around you, even the those who appear to exude nothing but confidence, all struggle with self-defeating thinking. Although we may find some comfort in knowing that we all share the same struggle, it is also helpful to cultivate strategies to avoid letting ourselves be trapped and limited by the naysayer in our own head.
The internal dialogue of self-doubt is often seen as a toxic thought pattern that needs to be suppressed. Decades of self help gurus and motivational speakers have preached the value of positive thinking in an attempt to keep us from succumbing to the “resistance”. While I don’t want to undermine the value of positive thinking and visualization, for anyone who has tried to suppress self-doubt and replace it with positive thoughts, you know it is far easier said than done.
Self-doubt is a mechanism that is produced by our amygdala (read: lizard brain) that keeps our egos from becoming over-inflated and prevents us from “flying too close to the sun”. Evolutionarily speaking, self-doubt serves a protective function by keeping us from taking chances that could cause injury or death. But it becomes problematic when it prevents us from taking risks that may enhance our lives. Try as you might, you will never rid yourself of it completely, and like most demons, it thrives on the fight. The more you push against it, the stronger it can become.
If you are tired of fighting with self-doubt then I have one suggestion: Embrace it.
Here’s a little secret…I didn’t become successful as an entrepreneur because I was super-confident. I didn’t gain a reputation as an innovator in the dog training industry because I felt like I was doing a great job. The reason I have found this measure of success is because I was constantly questioning myself, and questioning my operational status quo.
The ultimate driving force that pushed me to look at things in new ways is the fact that I am constantly doubting the way I am currently doing things. I still question the way I do things everyday, which leaves open space to innovate and improve.
I learned to take self-doubt, embrace it, and turn it into a drive to do better.
Self-doubt can either paralyze you or push you. We all have the internal dialogue of resistance. We can’t make it go away, but we can choose how to respond to it.
Never forget, self-doubt is a demon. Demons hate being embraced. Demons hate seeing that all their efforts to hold you back are only pushing you into the lead. Listen to your doubt, smile at it’s attempts to paralyze you, and then put your nose to the grindstone and become stronger, smarter, and happier.