Dealing with Self-Doubt
Self-doubt is a cruel demon. It creeps up on you right when you need it least. It sits on your shoulder and whispers in your ear, “you are not good enough. You've failed before, what makes this time different”. Or, “what's the point? Nobody would care if you stopped anyways”. Keeping the demon at bay is at most what we can all achieve and in my opinion, locking him away does not help. But what you can do is prove to yourself that you are staying the course.
I'd like to acknowledge a friend, Sydney as the catalyst for this piece. On a whim, I asked her how she dealt with this topic and received great feedback. As an added bonus she's letting me share her tips with you!
Positive Self Talk
Faith that you can do it, or it will get done
Self-love. Some things are hard and things take time.
Acting like a best friend to yourself. Allowing yourself to be off the hook occasionally.
That gave me pause. I began to reflect on why we don't ask those close to us how they deal with their struggles. One of the core anchors for this website and experiment is exploring the precarity of human experience. For this post, I reached out to past guests sand asked them a simple question: What tools or tactics have helped you deal with self-doubt?
This post is about breaking the mold and realizing we all have our personal demons, but they are related. From here on out, I will introduce each person and provide their answer to dealing with Self-Doubt.
Advice on Self-Doubt
Jordan Criss is a creative storyteller and has wide-ranging interests from music, screenwriting, and anime. At his core, Jordan believes in being authentic, and it comes through in his writing. In his own life, Jordan explores emotions and where they resonate with those around him. Jordan has appeared on this podcast many times and is a significant influence on the content we are creating. If you're interested in following along on his journey, follow him on Instagram (@crisshappens) and check out a few of the selected podcasts we've done.
One way I've learned to deal with self-doubt is with approval and validation from others. Now, this can be as damaging as it is helpful, but within a small circle of friends and peers you trust, their words and critiques can cure any bout of doubt. Be wary of the pessimists if you take this approach. Another thing that's helped me is taking a step back. Sometimes we drown ourselves in ambition, unknowingly sinking with the costly demands it places on our psyche; continually wondering what comes next or how to make it better. Broad goals are achieved with an accumulation of baby steps, and these steps can drag along for weeks, months or even years, and suddenly those steps appear stagnant (refer to Joe Jackowski's, "Letter to Angelina"), which is impossible. So instead of taking forced steps forward, a step away allows for a clear mind and new perspectives, so you can swim again.
Along with all of that, probably the most crucial strategy for me is practice, repetition, and more practice. Cliche, sure, and almost directly contradicting the last point, but you can't get better at something with a lack of doing whatever that something is. Attempting new approaches, that you may or may not use in your actual works, will provide insight and new tactics on how to achieve the goal. Think of it this way, if your goal is realized and turns into a career, you'll be doing it on a day to day basis. Might as well start now.
Diana Fornaris is a boxing instructor at Knockout Fitness. Diana also has a blog called The Inside Fighter, where she aims to talk openly about mental health and fitness as a mechanism to make meaningful changes in your own life! You can follow along with Diana’s journey @dfornari and @theinsidefighter. Checkout out our podcast where she shares how she coped with depression and found boxing as a passion.
1. I repeat the mantra: I am confident. I am strong. I am kind. I am loved.
2. I meditate for 5-10 minutes to recenter myself
3. I remind myself that doubting myself will only hold me back, so I talk myself up and remind myself how great I am
4. I listen to my favorite pump-up jams and imagine myself at my most confident singing the song on stage in front of a big audience.
5. I stand in the Superman stance for 10 seconds at a time until I feel the doubt shed off. Sometimes physically embodying confidence allows us to translate that confidence mentally.
6. I place trust in myself daily. Remind myself that I can be trusted to do things in the best way I know-how - which is usually more than enough. I reflect on all the times I was successful, and it helps ground me in the knowledge that doubting myself is unnecessary and has not worked in the past.
These tactics may not work every time, but they always help with "in the moment" doubt. I think trusting yourself is the ultimate achievement but can be extremely challenging. Overcoming self-doubt, to me, starts with believing in yourself and your abilities.
If you want to get to know Diana more checkout this episode of the podcast where we talk about how Diana has found her passion and how she has overcome some of her most difficult challenge in her life.
Joe Jackowski is currently studying biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience (BCN) and philosophy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He also serves as Secretary and Volunteer Chair for the Student Veterans of America, UM Chapter, and is a mentor for the Washtenaw County Veteran’s Treatment Court (WCVTC). Joe enjoys diving deep on subjects, absorbing everything he can on a topic to better explain it. All-in-all he’s a very introspective person and one of the main catalysts for why this podcast exists. If you're interested in what Joe is up to follow along @joejackski and a few of the selected podcasts!
Enter Joe Jackowski:
Attack your Fears
Recently, I was allowed to publicly consider the symbolism in a piece of modern art. What I surmised is beside the point, but what did matter was that once I understood my idea, I became nervous. I was worried about exposing my honest thoughts to a group of strangers. Instead of silently retreating, I held to my lifelong motto, "attack your fears." Don't "face your fears," attack them! I made a point to publicly pronounce my ideas because I was nervous. In my case, it worked out. The ideas were considered novel and insightful, and I was validated. Had they not been well received, however, I still would have learned a lesson: I can survive failure. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose by moving forward. By attacking those fears - the things you doubt you can handle - you'll learn you are more than you think you are.
Prepare for the Possibilities
Let your mind wander. Revolve around a new contentious subject, whether it's politics, philosophy, or interpersonal conflict, and let it gestate in your mind. Don't flinch. When objections to your position flicker in your mind, don't allow yourself a hand wave - the "they're crazy," or "they're just a bad person" excuses. Think it through. If you find out you are wrong, or your opponent is understandable, then you'll have grown into a person who can change. It's the person who is dogmatic - who fears they can't survive a refutation of their beliefs - who is lost, not the person who adjusts their trajectory given the environment. If you want to curb your self-doubt, learn to think relentlessly so when the time comes to be challenged, you'll know you've come prepared.
Expectations are Deceits
Expectations are the marriage to a single future. However, there are many potentials and the assumption of one may negate the possibility of unexpected higher potentials. When we hold on to our expectations, we create the conditions for disappointment. You may have wanted an individual to reciprocate your attraction. The fantasy the accompanies that, your hope, your expectation that things will work out, sets a bar that reality can fall short of. In the pursuit of that future, you may also miss a better future that you did not expect. Perhaps, your infatuation blinds you to another potential relationship. By denying yourself expectations, and instead of paying close attention to the present, you will allow yourself to strike at the sharp and transitory opportunities that you so often miss. Falling short of our expectations leads to disappointment in life - or ourselves. When we see ourselves as a disappointment (another expectation, the expectation of personal failure), we doubt our ability to accomplish our goals. Abandon expectations and instead cling to attention, whose employment fosters success.
John White is a Sales Director at NTS (National Technical Systems) in the certification, inspection, and testing industry. John approach to sale is to understand the nuances of the companies he works for at a more technical level. John has a deep appreciation for effectively communicating. On the podcast, John was one of the few people I contacted to interview and he has always supported the platform. To follow along with John's journey, you can contact him on LinkedIn.
Enter John White:
I had some self-doubt when I started at NTS, new field, new terminology, and at 53 years of age at the time it was somewhat intimidating. What I discovered was an abundant amount of support from within the company - you [Erich Wenzel] included. Here are some key points that I would suggest to overcome self-doubt, especially as it correlates with starting a new career, or any other major project.
Utilize the resources around you, people, published information, customer input, etc.
Work with your strengths. If your strength is sales focus on the relationship building with your customers, they can be a great source of learning.
If you have self-doubt take the things that you are most challenged with and set aside time every day to brush up on those things. Read for 30 minutes on them, talk to an expert within the organization, go to a seminar on the topic.
If you want to get to know John more checkout this episode of the podcast where we talk about what it means to be and effective communicator.
In this post, I hope to convey just how universal it is to face your demons. As I mentioned, the inspiration for this post was due, in part, to facing self-doubt about this very project. That being said, I wanted to better highlight the insightful people that make Feeding Curiosity what it is. The guests who have given their time to provide a glimpse of their experience in the world. I’d like to encourage each and every one of you to reach out to these amazing people that I have been lucky enough to get this feedback from. This will not be the last highlight you’ll hear from our guests, after all, we are a tribe. Remember, when you face the demon of self-doubt you’re among good company - a tribe of your own!
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