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The monster that is self-doubt can hit you when you are at your most vulnerable. It will tell you that you can’t. And at such moments, these tips will help.
Ten years ago, I left the corporate job I loved to raise my first born. My mind was clouded with unanswered questions, uncertainties, fear of the unknown, indecision, uneasiness and of course the biggest monster of all – self-doubt!
For I didn’t know a single thing about raising another human being – I had never even watered a plant in my life or petted a dog. The monster thus, constantly fed on my insecurities and inexperience, and hurled stress, anger and anxiety at me.
I learnt of course, the hard way, that there is no easy way to be a parent. The child doesn’t come with a manual, she doesn’t go by books that experts have authored. And that their agendas in life are quite conflicting with ours (for instance, they want to wake up when you don’t and sleep when the sun is high in the sky).
Anyhow, time and, its paramour, life are the greatest teachers and they taught me to enjoy the ‘moments’ (for they make up life). They taught me patience, and to embrace change, and most importantly, they taught me love – for my child as well as for myself.
Gradually, the self-doubt monster started starving – for happiness and contentment are rather bland for its taste. I was happy thinking that it had magically disappeared, for good.
However, it had only gone into hibernation! I could feel the monster tossing and turning, about to wake up from its deep slumber two years ago when I was starting my entrepreneurship journey. Eager to stay out of reach from its fierce grip, I gave it a cold shoulder and carried on my journey. For I was getting more and more experienced in dealing with it.
The monster however remained awake, ready to crush my spirit – just waiting for the right moment. Our battle restarted when it was time for me to convert the dream of this magazine into reality. We both had our moments and I was successful in winning this bout.
Here’s how I was successful in taming the self-doubt monster.
The first step is to identify the origin and address the root cause of self-doubt. Often, it arises due to long persisting negative beliefs that are mostly unrealistic and inaccurate.
A self-discovery journey needs to be undertaken to identify the source of these beliefs. The beliefs may have developed during childhood due to authoritarian custodians, unfulfilled wishes or past failures.
For anyone dealing with self-doubt, it is important to understand that we can choose to free ourselves from our past. Our past doesn’t dictate our present or future; only our mind and determination does.
They may sound unrelated but ‘practising gratitude’ & ‘self-belief’ go hand in hand. Being thankful for the blessings and joys we have is crucial to boost our self-esteem, thereby lowering self-doubt.
Gratitude, just like charity, needs to begin at home and we must thank our own qualities and virtues before moving on to any one else. It makes us content and love ourselves, reducing envy and resentment – two emotions that fuel self-doubt.
Especially those who bring out the best in us and help believe in our best versions. These people prove to be a great source of encouragement and strength. They also make for a great sounding board and can help us put our fears of inadequacy in perspective.
And it goes without saying– stay away from those pulling us down, ones who undermine our qualities and achievements. And those who are generally negative in their attitude towards life.
I flood my head with these two philosophies or mantras the moment I feel threatened by self-doubt. These play in my head – on a loop till I salvage my confidence.
karmanyevaadhikaaraste maa phaleshu kadaachana |
maa karmaphalaheturbhuu maatesangotsvakarmani ||
This very popular shloka from The Bhagavad Gita talks about focusing only on the action, and not the fruit. Self-doubt arises the moment we start fearing our inability to reach our goals. If the focus remains on the journey, more than the destination, the entire process become much more satisfying.
Que Sera Sera (Whatever will be, will be); The future’s not ours to see
These lines of a song from a Hitchcock film can help us overcome the fear of future, that of the unknown, and that of failure– things completely out of our control, things that amplify our self-doubt.
Most of us don’t respect ourselves enough to believe that our successes and achievements are anything but a big fluke, just a stroke of luck. This attitude of self-sabotage, self-loathing is known as ‘Imposter Syndrome’ – where we believe our success is a lie waiting to be exposed.
Instead of doubting our capabilities, talent and intelligence all the time, we need to learn to start giving credit to ourselves when we deserve it. Owning our success and realising our worth is important to nourish our self-esteem and confidence.
Self-doubt not only leads to low self-esteem and dwindling self-confidence, but it can be a major source for anxiety, procrastination and fear. The sooner we wage a war against this monster, the more likely we are to win.
As for me, my monster is gravely injured but it is waiting to strike when I am at my most vulnerable. It is ready to fill my mind with – you can’t, you shouldn’t, you mustn’t, what-ifs, if-only and all the other jibber-jabber.
And here I am, ready to fight with all that I have in my arsenal – my passion, abilities, hope, optimism, courage and faith.
The article was originally published in WE MAG Vol 01, Issue 01.
Picture credits: Pexels
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In no particular order she is a mental health professional, founder of www.weqip.com,
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