Self-Doubt vs Self-Belief

Have you ever felt like you know so much about your subject matter, but at the same time you don’t know enough? And that not knowing makes you doubt yourself. I mean there is always someone who knows more than you, right? When in these situations, it is so easy to spiral into the negative self-doubt talk, which can start as simple as, this person know’s more than me about x, before long that turns into I’m not intelligent, pretty, thin, strong (insert your word here) enough, and we loose our will and determination to keep going. Self-doubt takes over.

We doubt ourselves, why? Well one reason is that as humans we have a predisposition to negativity, we are 10 times more likely to see, and remember the bad things versus that good and positive things in our life.

But what about those people you admire? What do they do or have that is different?

After observing people who are successful (an not just in a monetary sense) in their job or field, I think one key factor is at play.

They believe in their mission.

Mission might feel like a strong word, but it’s true. They believe that what they do will make some sort of difference. They will change the world in some way. They could be a hairdresser/fashion designer trying to make people look/feel good, they teach, because they believe that knowledge is vital and their subject matter is important. Think about people you know who are successful, it’s highly likely they believe in what they do, and that belief most likely translates into self-belief.

It’s not to say that these people don’t ever have moments of self-doubt, but they believe in what they are trying to achieve, and that brings clarity and focus. So much so that it overrides and outweighs that negatively bias, because they need to share this mission with everyone.

So, what do you want to do? What is important to you?

Fear a darkroom where negatives develop

Fear can be a both a great motivator and debilitating force. It can quite literally stop us in our tracks. On some occasions fear will propel us forward. For example, when facing a new challenge, or path, giving us energy and momentum to do something differently. Other times we will get caught up in our internal dialogue, and procrastinate about our decision or challenge. If we do get caught up in the internal dialogue then most likely we will be left feeling anxious, frustrated and irritated.

When our fear is a catalyst for change it is very powerful. We may start a new business, change career or follow our dream to travel the world. Our fear of things how they are currently, and not living our dreams can be a huge and scary motivator for change, taking us to new and interesting places in our personal discovery. While it is possible we could end up regretting our decision completely, we will have gained is knowledge. Maybe we will learn that we need to do it differently next time or that the thing we chose it wasn’t right for us. But a least we would have grown and evolved.

However, when we feel that fear, and sit and do nothing there can be a sense of anger and frustration. We will probably look at other people (who are doing what we want to do) and criticise them, or more likely we will criticise our self for not being brave, or clever enough, or whatever you internal chatter sounds like. This is when our little gremlins take over and the inner critic goes wild, this is too powerful and if you let it, it will take over.

So how do we fight the urge to flee or stand still? What is it that makes us tackle our fear, and step into our power?

Well deep inside our gut, we know the right course of action, but often we block it out with the external noise of other people's opinions, or ignore it completely. Our body knows the truth, when we listen to our intuition, but our mind needs to get with the program. Simply put our mind needs to catch up. However, it’s not that simple, you see our mind has been designed to keep us safe. So if we consider doing something that is a little risque for example quitting our job to start a new business, our mind will throw in all sorts of reasons why we shouldn’t do it, and for good reason. It wants to protect us for getting it wrong, or doing something that will compromise the status quo, and turf us right out of our comfort zone. While this is a good thing, in that it will keep us out of serious harm, it can paralyze us and stop us from living our dreams and passions.

So how do we get over this and what can we to move through the fear?

1. Start to take some deep breaths, and feel your feet on the ground and listen to your own intuition and get clear about what you want. When your mind starts to interfere stop take a deep breath and count backwards from 5 to reset your thought pattern.

2. Do your research. If you are making a big decision then you want to know all the information, so that you have the best chance of success. Know what you need to learn, buy or consider doing to help you with this project.

3. Try not to listen too much to other people’s advice. While they mean well it is likely they will have their own bias or experience which will frame their thinking. Choose who you solicit advice from. You want to understand where that person is coming, and what their skills are so you can filter out what’s relevant.

4. Recognise when your negativity bias kicks in. Although our brain is programmed to keep us safe, often it can been too risk averse. Recognising that there are things you can control and things you can’t. Work to control the things in your power, and then worry less about the rest.

5. Take small steps. If you were going to climb Everest you wouldn’t just rock up and start climbing without any prep, or the right tools or reading up on the climb. So take small action steps to prepare you for your new and exciting journey.

6. Be true to who you are, follow your dreams, and after all that prepare to take the plunge. Even if it doesn’t work out the way you think, you will be glad that you tried and developed from the journey. If it does work out, well you might just kick yourself for not doing it sooner!

Ride the waves

During my holiday last year in Ericeira Portugal I had an experience that shifted my energy. It was high tide and turbulent day for me to choose to surf but the waves had been poor the previous day so Tom and I were eager to get out. Once out in the ocean the enormity of the waves hit me, and after a little breather whilst bobbing up and down one these huge waves I decided to make an attempt for shore. Inexperienced and terrified I found myself hurtling to shore, before getting mashed up by the wave. I landed next to some rocks my lead tied it’s self around my ankles meaning that an escape from the next ginormous wave approaching impossible. After being churned up once more by the wave, my leash freed up and I grabbed my board to run for safety. As I looked back at the ocean it was empty not a surfer in sight. The waves continued breaking and crashing onto the rocks at the shore, and I realised it was a lucky escape.

As I walked home that night I sobbed, and felt all of the anxiety and tension that I had been holding in my body from this event flow out of me very unceremoniously.

The next day completely afraid I picked up my board and faced the waves again......this time they were slightly smaller. Even though I was afraid and visibly shaking I spent the next three hours surfing the waves. It was amazing! I felt the rush and thrill of the ocean, and the euphoria as I caught wave after wave. 

The following day I stopped in the street to play around with a little inversion. Something that for many of my students can be very frightening. I had tumbled out of handstands a few times in the past and although I was still working with them, if I am being honest I was holding back a little. As someone who is a self proclaimed control freak I was afraid of not being in control. However that day something was different, I hopped up into my handstand I felt the charge of energy flow through me, and I could feel the earth pulling up through my hands. Holding the balance my body felt completely alive and energised. I felt like something had changed. I felt that loosing control on the waves that, and realising that I am unable to control everything it made me more connected to my body. I was less in my head and more in my body, feeling the pose. 

We are taught to see fear as something to be supressed, or to be ashamed of, something that we should hide from others incase they see our vulnerabilities. While I do agree that there are times when it really does serve us to keep our fear hidden to protect ourselves, it is often our fear that keeps us trapped in a state, way of being and living that doesn't serve us. What I experienced on my trip was being very afraid at the mercy of the powerful ocean, then going back the next day to face the fear, which in turn really grounded me. My experience taught me great things can happen when we ride the wave, feel all that comes up and move through it.