You are about to learn how you can beat your doubts and fears by giving them a name and hopefully you are really excited to explore this post.

Imagine you have to be hospitalized. Maybe you have to have bypass surgery, your gallbladder removed, or your appendix out. Your friends and relatives surround you and balloons and gifts of food fill your room. How do you feel emotionally? Are you frustrated and discouraged sulking about the activities you are missing or the income you are losing? Are you doing okay and actually enjoying all the love and attention?

Now imagine two weeks have passed and although out of the hospital, you are still recovering from surgery. Friends and family have stopped visiting, and the gifts of food and goodies have stopped. You are more mobile and able to accomplish tasks, run errands, do some work, and take care of things for yourself. Has your mood improved? Are you confident you can take charge of your life again? Or are you feeling blue missing all the company and the kind gifts?

The way you react to this situation tells a lot about whether you place more self-value and importance on your capability or your desirability. Immediately after the surgery, if you despair over your capacity to be productive and independent, you probably tend to value your competence. You want people to think you are smart and capable. Two weeks later, once you are mobile again, your despair lifts; because you are able to be productive, you feel fine. If rather than being frustrated in the hospital you enjoy the attention from your family, then you probably place more value on your relationships and therefore your desirability. You care most about having people in your life or being liked. Two weeks later, the company and phone calls dwindle; your mood sinks because you believe no one cares or you don’t matter.

Researchers have identified two main types of personality styles. Th e first type relies on competence for self-definition, whereas the other type relies on relationships for self-definition. Your individual view of yourself makes you differentially vulnerable to achievement-related or interpersonal events. At the core of doubt is an uncertainty of one’s competence or desirability or both.

According to Dr. Aaron T. Beck’s theory,* individuals with a competence personality style are independent and action oriented. Accomplishing what they have set out to do is more important than the values or opinions of others. Their self-worth is based on achievement or goals obtained. Therefore, being unable to perform or succeed will lead to doubt.

Individuals with a desirability personality style, according to Beck’s theory, derive more self-value from their relationships with others. They are more concerned with being disapproved of and are negatively affected when others disagree, discount, or reject them. Thus a perceived criticism or slight will lead to doubt.

We all have doubt labels. In fact, there are an infinite number of them because each one of us has a unique nasty name we call ourselves when our doubt is talking to us. This doubt is connected to what you value most—your competency or your desirability or both. In fact, doubt is more likely to get activated in situations directly related to what you value. For individuals who value competence, doubt is more likely to be activated in achievement-related situations. For individuals who value relationships, doubt is more likely to be activated in social situations. In this section of the article, we’ll help you learn your personality style and then help you define your specific label of doubt. Knowing the words to define one’s doubt is essential. By labeling your doubt, you’re better able to see it operating and how it colors your perceptions, inhibits your choices, and fuels your negative, unpleasant feelings.

Competence-Driven Personality

According to Beck, autonomous or competence-driven people’s self-worth is based on self-focused judgments regarding achievement related events. You are goal driven and action oriented. You make work a priority, and base how you feel about yourself on your achievement and success. You are like the salesman who strives for the highest numbers each month or like the athlete whose greatest desire is to win the race. Doubt about your competence is activated under times of criticism, in situations that create a loss of control or loss of independence, and when facing difficulty achieving your goals.

Can You Relate to Sam?

Sam is a competency-oriented person who defines himself by his successes. Sam grew up in the shadow of his arrogant, overbearing, successful father. Despite Sam’s efforts and multiple accomplishments, his father repeatedly let him know that he did not measure up. His father constantly reminded him that he would never be half the man that he was. Sam’s mother reinforced this message by always pointing out Sam’s shortcomings and never praising his accomplishments. Sam, now fifty-seven years old, is still waiting for his parents’ approval.

Sam is the picture of success. He is happily married, financially successful, and talented in many areas. Yet, at the slightest expressed or perceived criticism, doubt is activated, and he crumbles internally. Criticism, in his eyes, means that the other person doubts his talent, his brains, his success—exactly what he doubts in himself.

Desirability-Driven Personality

People who are more concerned with being desirable, good, or worthy fall into the domain of desirability. According to Beck, sociotropic, or what we refer to as desirability-driven, individuals depend on others for their self-worth and need people around them to satisfy their needs, justify their values, and to provide reassurance. Doubt labels can develop from perceived rejection, disappointment, or disagreement with another.

Can You Relate to Jill?

Jill’s self-worth centers on her desirability. She defines herself based on her attractiveness to others and is preoccupied with being a good person. Jill grew up in a home with three sisters, all of them blond, blue eyed, and lean. Jill considered herself the ugly duckling with her dark hair, dark eyes, and stockier body type. She always felt she did not measure up to the rest of the family and believed she was never good enough to be loved. That perception was compounded by what she described as a lack of attention, praise, and love.

Jill’s belief that she was unloved led her to conclude that she needed to be perfect to be loved. She thus strived to be the perfect child, always compliant, a good student, and sacrificing her needs and choices for others. However, the strategy backfired. Instead of getting lots of positive attention, she got less attention than the other siblings. Because she was so well behaved, her parents could leave Jill on cruise control while they managed the problems of their other daughters. Instead of being thanked and praised for her generosity and thoughtfulness, she felt taken advantage of and never good enough to be loved.

Jill continues to give and give, rescuing her sisters from their problems and taking the full burden of responsibility in helping her aging parents. Although she is now trim and attractive, one failed relationship after another only serves to confirm to her that she is not good enough to be loved. A delayed phone call, the wandering eye of the man she is with, a cancellation of plans by a friend, or a real or seeming insult leads her to despair. Jill’s despair is a result of her perceived rejection and a confirmation of her unattractiveness, inability to measure up, and unlovability.

Determining Your Personality Type

Th e first step in defining your doubt label is understanding your personality style. Do you have a competency-driven personality or a desirability-driven personality? Perhaps you are driven by both competency and desirability. Take the quizzes in this section to uncover your personality.

DO YOU DERIVE SELF-WORTH FROM COMPETENCY?

Answer true, false, or undecided to the following questions:

1. Nothing feels better than getting a task done.

True False Undecided

2. You gain self-esteem from being paid well for the work you do.

True False Undecided

3. When your personal life conflicts with your professional obligations, you usually make the professional obligation the priority.

True False Undecided

4. You do not compromise everything for your personal life.

True False Undecided

5. Although you appreciate being told that you are loved, you prefer to be considered competent.

True False Undecided

6. When something does not go right, you first think about how you might have messed up.

True False Undecided

7. You would not cancel a revenue-generating task for a social engagement.

True False Undecided

8. You take succeeding in love for granted and work hard to succeed in what you do

True False Undecided

9. You define yourself by what you do and not by how much you are liked.

True False Undecided

10. You can comfortably do things on your own, including eating out, traveling, and pursuing your interests.

True False Undecided

11. You cannot help being somewhat competitive across situations.

True False Undecided

12. Although you appreciate being told what a good person you are, you prefer to be thought of as smart.

True False Undecided

SELF-ANALYSIS

Add up your true responses:

Add up your false responses:

Add up your undecided responses:

If you have more true responses than false, you base how you feel about yourself on your competency. You define yourself by what you do and you care most about being capable and independent. If you answered more false responses than anything else, then you base how you feel about yourself on your desirability. You are less concerned with what you do and more concerned with being liked and being a good person. If you deliberated on each question and have a lot of undecided responses, then you are the person who is high on both competency and desirability. You care about being competent and being liked. You are likely to be under stress because both performance and interpersonal issues are likely to activate your doubt.

DO YOU DERIVE SELF-WORTH FROM DESIRABILITY?

Answer true, false, or undecided to the following questions.

1. The best gift in the world is to be told you are loved.

True False Undecided

2. It is more important to be considered nice than to be seen as smart.

True False Undecided

3. You think about others more often than yourself.

True False Undecided

4. You care about what people think of you and want them to think you are a good person.

True False Undecided

5. Whenever possible you would pick a personal obligation over a professional one when the two are in conflict.

True False Undecided

6. You want everyone to like you.

True False Undecided

7. You recognize you are not as competitive as other people.

True False Undecided

8. You try not to step on anyone’s toes.

True False Undecided

9. You do not feel the need to be in charge.

True False Undecided

10. You would prefer to do a social activity rather than your planned goal for the day.

True False Undecided

11. Having your mobility compromised is not the end of the world.

True False Undecided

12. Winning the good citizen award means more than winning first place.

True False Undecided

SELF-ANALYSIS

Add up your true responses:

Add up your false responses:

Add up your undecided responses:

If you have more true responses than false, you have confirmed that you are more desirability driven than competency driven. If you answered mostly false to these questions, your competency or need to succeed was confirmed. Were you caught once again in the middle, teetering between true and false? Then you are indeed driven by both competency and desirability. Keep your answers in mind when you look for the labels of your doubt.