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  • Michael Philp

How to overcome self-doubt

self-doubt blog Grove Psychology
Focusing on the journey not the outcome can help deal with self-doubt

It's probably the biggest obstacle to achievement. That little voice in your head. "You're not good enough". "You'll just fail anyway". "Who are you to think you are so good". We've all experienced that little voice at some point, usually when we are trying to do something that is pushing us out of our comfort zone. Which usually means that we either avoid doing the task that we don't think we are good enough to do, or we spend a lot of time and mental effort trying to shut the little voice up. I'm going to suggest an alternative option.

And that alternative option is do nothing......By which I mean dropping the struggle with that little voice, the voice of self-doubt.

When we drop the struggle we can move forward

What if we stopped focusing on trying to get rid of that little voice? What would happen instead if you were able to acknowledge that little voice, give it a label, and re-focus on the present moment, the task at hand? "That's just my self-doubt voice" or "There it goes again, my Negative Nancy voice". If you could do that, would you be more productive? Would you be able to make strides forward in achievement?

Changing the focus from outcome to process

This is a really fancy way of saying focus on the journey. If you focus on the outcome, then you get stuck in all or nothing type thoughts, where our self-doubting voice is able to shine. It's either good or bad. Success or failure. Instead, however, you can focus on the journey, the effort.

"The most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle" - Pierre De Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic games

This sounds easier said than done, and that's because it is. Overcoming self-doubt is hard. It means sometimes "embracing the suck". The way we can do that, however, is to align with our values. By values, what I mean is not a moral code, but what is important to us in the way that we live our lives, how we wish to conduct ourselves when working towards our goals. For example, starting a new business is filled with anxiety because there is a risk. There is a risk that the business might not work out or be as successful as we had hoped. That might mean that you avoid starting a business, no matter how many times you told your friends you had a great idea for a cafe. Self-doubt kicks in - what if I fail? What if no-one likes it?

However, if you were able to change the focus from success/failure, to a values based focus, you can work with self-doubt. The value might be about courage, or having a go. For example - "It's important to me to live my life by having a go. If I looked back in 30 years time, I would regret not having a try at this opportunity". We haven't done anything about the self-doubt - it's still there, in fact the little voice is still probably talking. But perhaps it's a bit quieter. By aligning with your values, it's definitely easier to say "thanks Negative Nancy, I got this".

So in summary - can you get rid of self-doubt? You could spend a lot of mental energy trying to do that. Or you could re-focus on the process, the journey, and align yourself with your values of how you want to live your life, and walk with that self-doubt but still forward towards your goal.

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