One of the curses of self-doubt is that it usually comes with a strong inner judgemental critical voice. The reason it steals our energy and time is that we end up second-guessing everything we do – either before we do it, or afterwards, analysing what happened and critiquing it with the poison of a viper. Instead of focusing our energy into what the task is, we can trip ourselves up again and again with the internal voices in our head.

So how can we break this cycle and stop this toxic merry-go-round?
Re-set your mindset; from scarcity to enough. Self-doubt is embedded within what I call a ‘scarcity mindset’. From here we are convinced that we lack what we require – that we just aren’t good enough. It’s fear based and triggers fear responses, which is what can lead us to such anxiety. The trick is to notice when you are coming from a feeling of lack, so that you can consciously start to choose a different narrative. In those moments of self-doubt work on developing an ‘enough mindset’. This involves substituting self-doubt with self-love. Appreciate that you are enough exactly as you are, with all your flaws and talents. Sure you can learn and grow, but as a starting point you ARE enough.
Remember you are human. Self-doubt often manifests as Imposter syndrome and its toxic friend perfectionism. Both of these come from a fantasized version of the world – they are false constructs and they damage us so much because we can only ever fall short in relation to them. Remembering that everyone is human and therefore fallible can be a hugely helpful re-frame here. You don’t have to be perfect – no-one can be. Just give of your best and that will be enough.
Notice your self-talk and challenge it by inviting more voices. Often it’s the loud critical voice in our heads that makes it so hard to believe that we are enough. Notice how and when that loud critical voice dominates your thinking. It’s like that person at a party who arrives and takes over the conversation not letting anyone else get a word in edgeways. Rather than just wishing it away (which is pretty hard when it’s so established), try inviting a couple of other voices. That quiet person next to you at a party who might have a different view. What might a kinder voice say? What would your best friend be saying? Try listening to them for a bit and have a break from the critic.
Practice appreciation. Appreciation and gratitude are the perfect antidotes to self-doubt. Get into the habit of writing down three things that you appreciate about your life and that you are grateful for. Learn to notice and appreciate what you do well. This is a habit of thinking that can counter the most persistent inner critic.

First published in Dynamic magazine.

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