Today in this article we will be discussing the concept of self-doubt and how you can get rid of it. Upcoming articles will provide you with more in-depth information and techniques that you can use to get rid of self-doubt. So let’s get started.

Doubt lurks in all of us. Jamie, a fifty-three-year-old physician, claims she has no doubt. “I don’t really care if people like me or not,” she maintains. Yet she is adored by her family and goes out of her way to show her love and commitment to them. Being loved and valued are things she takes for granted. It does not define who she is. Jamie is defined by her accomplishments. What makes her feel good about herself is her successes, but it is in that domain that her doubt waits.

Jamie has been a devoted and hardworking member of a prestigious and powerful board for the past fifteen years. The new chairman is trying to evict the longstanding members, like Jamie, off the board. Jamie is rattled and willing to fight to not let this happen. It is perfectly clear that the newly appointed young chairman has political reasons for his agenda. Yet Jamie wonders if this man thinks she has lost her edge and thus wants her off the board. Jamie’s doubt has surfaced. Hiding in the background of her usually dominant confidence is the belief that maybe she is not good enough.

Doubt is always inside of us waiting for stress to push it to the surface. For some of us, doubt whispers in our ear. For others, doubt screams. Regardless, once doubt surfaces, it colors how we think, how we feel, and how we act.

There is an obstacle in your path. Do you set about trying to move it? Do you stop and ask yourself why you might actually want to do so? Do you tell yourself you don’t deserve to remove it from your path? Do you get angry? Do you just walk away? One of these strategies is yours, which depends on how you respond to your self-doubt.

In this series of articles, you will learn to recognize doubt and to understand how pervasively it shapes the way you view the world and how you feel, how you physically respond, and what you do. Understanding these components will give you the tools you need to courageously and freely make decisions and choices to achieve in all spheres of your life.

Realistic Concern Is Different from Doubt

Realistic concern is a warning signal alerting us to danger. It cautions us to take stock of a situation and evaluate if we are indeed equipped to handle it. For instance, you are a talented skateboarder and a fearless ice skater. You have decided to take up skiing. You buy yourself a warm outfi t; rent yourself some skis; and, with a friend who knows the trails, head to the slopes. You ride the chairlift to the top of the trail, wiggle off the chair, and fall fl at on your face. As you struggle to stand up, you think, “This isn’t like other sports. I’m never going to make it down the mountain. I don’t know what I’m doing.” Your friend has already started down the slope without you, having assumed you would be close behind.

The concern inside you grows. You somewhat clumsily make your way down the mountain and then go get a lesson. Your concern in this case was right on target and warranted. It alerted you to the fact that you were not adequately prepared. This kind of realistic concern is grounded in reality, temporary and helpful.

Doubt is the enemy within that causes you to question your capability and desirability. It is unhelpful because it comes from unwarranted fear and leads you to conclude that you can’t handle things when you can or that you are not desirable when the facts show otherwise. Th is global unfounded doubt is exactly what this series of articles will teach you to turn off . The following two exercises will help you recognize when unrealistic global doubt is operating.

DOUBT TEST 1

Imagine for this exercise that you just got a great job in your area of expertise. It is the night before you begin the new job, and you are aware of feeling apprehensive. Answer yes or no to the following questions in accordance with what you feel is your characteristic way of thinking.

  1. I have the technical skills necessary for this job. Yes – No
  2. My past experiences helped equip me for this job. Yes – No
  3. I catch on quickly enough. Yes – No
  4. I’m willing to ask questions if I need help. Yes – No
  5. If I face a problem, I’ll be able to figure out what to do. Yes – No
  6. I can appear calm even if I’m not. Yes – No
  7. I’m equipped with the brains to do this job. Yes – No

SELF-ANALYSIS

Did you answer yes to at least five of the seven questions? If you answered yes, then your mental picture is of being capable. Th ere is no reason to have doubt. Doubt, in this scenario, is unrealistic and

unwarranted.

Did you answer no to at least five of the seven questions? If you answered no, then you are experiencing doubt in response to the imagined situation. Your doubt leads you to unrealistically question your expertise and skill. Realistic concern is not actually necessary because this is your area of expertise, and you are equipped to handle the situation.

DOUBT TEST 2

For this exercise, imagine you are going to a big social event tonight with your significant other. Your significant other will know many of the people there but you will not. You notice you are feeling uneasy about going. Answer yes or no to the following questions.

  1. If you had to, you could talk to anyone. Yes – No
  2. You have interests you could talk about. Yes – No
  3. You know how to make yourself presentable. Yes – No
  4. You can be a good listener, letting others talk about themselves. Yes – No
  5. Your significant other enjoys your company and will include you in conversations. Yes – No
  6. You can think of things at the party to look forward to. Yes – No
  7. You know you can be entertaining if you want to be. Yes – No

Did you answer yes to at least five of the seven questions? If so, you recognize doubt is unrealistic and unwarranted in this scenario. There is no good reason to be apprehensive as you picture yourself smiling and actively engaging in a conversation.

Did you answer no to at least five of the seven questions? If so, you are experiencing doubt. You are imagining yourself being socially undesirable and picture yourself struggling in conversations or spending much of your time being ignored by others. You fail to envision that you have the assets that make you socially desirable. Realistic concern is not really warranted and would be exaggerating any possible social shortcoming or awkwardness in this situation.

Learning to Differentiate Realistic Concern from Doubt

As you can see from the two tests, you can needlessly cause yourself stress when you let doubt get the best of you. Recognizing this useless, unwarranted doubt is the first step. Sometimes, however, our doubt is actually realistic concern. Realistic concern means you are not equipped to handle the situation, and you should take appropriate action to gain the necessary skills or to ask for help. Ignoring realistic concern can be risky. By not attending to realistic concern, you might put yourself in situations where your well-being, safety, or livelihood is compromised. Therefore, the second step is to differentiate realistic concern from doubt. If it’s realistic concern, we’ll teach you to take appropriate action. If it’s doubt, we’ll teach you through our program to squash it while building confi dence. Use the following quiz to differentiate realistic concern from doubt.

REALISTIC CONCERN VS. DOUBT QUIZ

  1. You’ve decided to go to a tropical paradise with eight of your friends. Most of your friends are certified divers and have organized a dive trip. You have had two hours of instruction in the hotel pool, and the dive instructor has told you that he will escort you on the trip. (A) You fear harm will come to you and decline the offer. Although the dive instructor will accompany you, you feel you have not learned enough to be comfortable.  (B)  You join your friends and go, hoping you’ll be okay. (C)  You decline the offer out of fear, blaming your inadequacy.
  2. A good friend offers you the opportunity to invest in her new business. She promises great return on your money, and other friends appear interested.(A)  You recognize you lack the necessary facts to make an informed decision and decline the offer; you are also thinking that in the present economic environment any business venture would be too risky. (B)  You write out a check immediately, and hope for the best. (C) You decline the offer, and call yourself a wimp.

If you answered A in either example, you recognized that realistic concern was warranted. In both situations, real threat existed. Choosing to decline the dive or the investment was a reasonable choice.

If you chose B in either example, you chose to put yourself at risk, potentially to your detriment.

If you chose C in either situation, doubt took over. Instead of recognizing that realistic concern led you to decline the off ers, you believed your doubt.

This quiz demonstrates that taking appropriate action requires differentiating realistic concern from doubt. You can use these questions in your daily life when you notice you are feeling concerned, distressed, or overwhelmed to help you diff erentiate realistic concern from doubt.

Here are the steps for differentiating realistic concern from doubt in your daily life:
  1. The next time you are distressed, label the situation that is directly connected to your distress. Some examples are starting a new job, going back to school, getting a speeding ticket, getting on a plane, making an investment, and getting ready to go out on a Saturday night.
  2. Assess your resources to help you differentiate whether you are experiencing appropriate realistic concern or doubt. Ask yourself, “Do I have the experience/skills I need?” Determine whether you have the required technical skills, experience, patience, or willingness to learn. Check if you have interests and opinions to share or know how to put yourself together. See if you are in fact equipped to face the situation.
  3. Take appropriate action.
  4. Differentiating realistic concern from doubt is a necessary step in overcoming doubt. If you discover that your concern is unrealistic and yet continue to let it get in your way, you will be sacrificing confidence and paying the price for letting doubt take over. By questioning your competency or desirability or both you allow doubt to stop you from taking effective action.

We do hope this post helped you understand the doubt and also provided you with some tips as to how you can beat self-doubt. But this does not end here. So stay tuned!