Have you ever wanted to tell somebody something, but were afraid what they might think? So rather than expressing yourself, you instead chose to keep your mouth shut.
We’ve all had this experience. It’s a common example of self-doubt. Hopefully this example doesn’t happen to you very often, but if it does, you might be a classic self-doubter.
Of course, self-doubt is not just limited to our words.
Self-doubt can rear its ugly head in almost any situation. It’s a normal part of living, and can actually be beneficial. Second thoughts are there for a reason. They help us avoid making hasty or reckless decisions. Having second thoughts, in and of themselves, is not necessarily a bad thing.
The trouble begins when these second thoughts start creeping up too frequently, prying their way into even minor activities. Even worse is when we begin to act on these doubts. I should rephrase that: what we are actually doing is letting these doubts keep us from acting. They are no longer just encouraging us to give pause, they are actually inhibiting us from doing or saying what we want.
Instead of the occasional second thought, we now have a nasty case of what’s possibly the most restrictive limiting belief. Self-doubt is powerful. It confines us like no other. Self-doubt will:
– Restrict you from trying new experiences.
– Block you from learning new skills.
– Silence your self-expression.
– Limit the choices you make.
In short, it will imprison you.
Few things will restrict the way you live your life like self-doubt. It keeps you chained to a small little world of limited choices and safe decisions.
Now you’ve landed squarely in Shitsville.
No longer are you able to exercise the free will you’ve been granted by life. The gift of living will escape you as long as you consent to remain in your cage. And do not fool yourself – you are consenting to remain in that cage. You made the damn thing. It’s up to you to break free of it.
But how do you do that?
It’s not an easy question to answer. Self-doubt is a limiting belief that overwhelms. When confronted with a choice, instead of acting on our desires or intuition, we will give in to our worries . . . those little second and third thoughts that ask us “what if?”
What if I say something stupid?
What if I’m not capable?
What if this changes things?
What if I fail?
At its core, what we are really asking is “What if I make the wrong choice?”
“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.” — Sydney J. Harris
The problem is that we’ve come to the conclusion that the choice to do is inherently more risky than the choice to not do. But that’s just faulty logic. In the long run, it’s the things we don’t do that will cause us the most regret.
There’s really only one way that I’ve found to effectively conquer self-doubt . . . flip it the finger and do what you want anyway.
It’s not the most incredibly useful piece of advice, I know. It may not be some feel-good step-by-step guide, but there’s sense to it. Self-doubt is simply the fear of making the wrong choice. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I believe fear leads us to growth. I let fear rule my life for far too long. These days, I make it a habit to charge headfirst in whatever direction I fear.
And you know what the nice thing is? The more you act on your instincts, the more comfortable you will become with the choices you make. Sure, you might make some wrong decisions – it’s part of life – but you’ll soon realize that making mistakes is not the end of the world you thought it to be.
In fact, you’ll see that mistakes are really no big deal at all. So what if you said something stupid . . . everyone does. Nobody will remember your words tomorrow. People just don’t care about little shit as much as you imagine them to.
The more often you choose to ignore self-doubt, the greater your confidence will bloom. You see, the two lie at opposite ends of the balance. Every choice you make is either a step towards doubt or a step towards confidence. And with each step, you tip the scale deeper on whichever side you stand. So why not choose to tip the balance in favor of self-confidence?
Confidence is freeing. Confidence will allow you to break loose from your prison. Self-doubt, though it will always be present, cannot exert any real power when confronted with confidence. Soon, your limiting self-doubts will be revealed for what they’ve always been . . . powerless apparitions.
So fuck ‘em.
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