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“The inner speech, your thoughts, can cause you to be rich or poor, loved or unloved, happy or unhappy, attractive or unattractive, powerful or weak.” — Ralph Charell

While all doubt is not necessarily a bad thing and can even be useful and healthy, doubting ourselves to the point we hold ourselves back and miss out on opportunities can be a harmful pattern. Excessive or unnecessary self-doubt can make beginning (and completing) projects harder than they ought to be.  It can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self worth.

It is certainly true a healthy dose of uncertainty can help us to see our limitations and help us to look at ourselves realistically.  However, we do need to be careful not to allow self-doubt debilitate us and turn into self-depreciation.

So how can we deal with the doubts floating in our minds?  Here are 7 tips to overcoming doubt and getting on with life.

1. Don’t Compare Yourself to Anyone Else

It is our natural inclination to compare ourselves to others in order to get a gauge of how we are doing or how we measure up. But, in all seriousness, this is a useless waste of time and energy. No one can compare apples and oranges. They are not comparable. Most people tend to project a better image of themselves to others than how they feel inside. When we look at how someone is doing or at what they are accomplishing, we do not see the whole picture. We don’t see what has gone on behind the scenes or what they are actually going through.

Comparing ourselves to others for whatever reason is futile.  We simply can not be like anyone else because we are each unique with our own way of seeing and doing things. Trying to see how we measure up compared to someone else will only make us feel inadequate and take the focus off of what we can and should be doing.

2. Don’t Be Concerned With People’s Opinions

Opinions do not matter all that much. Why should we care what other people think of us? It is really none of our business. Yes, people will freely offer up their opinions, but that is all they are opinions. At the end of the day, other people are not us and we are not them. They do not know what we need or what is good for us. When we realize how little people really are thinking about us (because they are thinking about their own lives), it becomes easier to not care what others think of us. The fact is, they probably aren’t.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”—Steve Jobs

Fixating on what others might think, and looking for their approval will only hold us back from being authentic and doing what we would like to do. After all, we are the ones who will have to live with the end results of our choices, not them.

3. Doubt What You Doubt

At the very base of it all, doubt is a form of fear, a fear that we use to convince ourselves that we are unable or unworthy. It is a lie. It is a creation that we have fabricated in our mind.  Doubts can paralyze us, making us hesitate or run for safety (bail out). Doubt will eat away at our confidence and willingness to try or believe. Other people or influences around us can erode our confidence, as focusing on past failures can. Remember, we have the power to challenge our doubts.

Who says we can’t?  Who gets to decide that? We know that doubts are just fabricated ideas and not real, so why not challenge their validity?  It is perfectly fine to doubt what we have been doubting and reverse the thought pattern. We are by no means under any obligation to believe our thoughts. In fact, we control them and decide which ones will prevail. So turn off the doubt and turn on belief.

4. Just Make Decisions Already

Indecision is a stressful place to be. it hangs over your head and it is all you can think about until you finally make a decision. People who are successful in their lives, whether it be professional, social or personal are usually able to make decisions easily. They make informed decisions quickly and manage them after. In many cases, they have already prepared themselves for the decision by know what they want and knowing what is important to them before hand so that the decision is just an extension of their priorities and values.

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.” Caroline Myss

Going back and forth, humming and hawing between options will only lead you in a side to side direction and not forward. Decision-making is an important skill to develop if you want to control some of the stresses in your life. Of course, making a decision does not necessarily mean (in all cases) that you can not change your mind when you have new information or a new perspective. Hold on to strong convictions to be able to make decisions firmly, but hold them loosely to allow for flexibility.

5. Don’t Tell Yourself Excuses

The excuses we tell ourselves are just ways we use to bail out. We may be afraid to look bad, afraid to fail or  afraid to take on something we are not sure we can handle (even though we may be able to). They are concrete walls we put up that prevent us from moving forward, from taking advantage of opportunities and from growing.  It is so easy to give in and justify to ourselves why we shouldn’t or can’t do something, but think of what we might lose in the process. We may never know what could have been if we had refused to listen to our own excuses.

“If it is important to you you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.” Anonymous

Excuses are just fall backs to keep us in our comfort (or familiar) zone. They are knee jerk responses to the adversity or uncertainty we don’t want to face or overcome. They are lies and these lies will hold us back from becoming what we would like to be come and doing what we would like to do. Decide today to no long make excuses to your self or anyone else.

6. Hang Out With People Who Encourage You

Too often we are less than discerning about whom we choose to be close to us. Indeed, we can be very indiscriminate and even imprudent about choosing our close associations.  The closer people are to us, the more influence they will have over us for better or for worse. Their actions, words and conversations will impact us and influence our own ideas, and behaviour. We need to be very careful who we spend a lot of our time with. It is best if we can surround ourselves with people who will not fuel our fears and doubts, but who will, instead, encourage us to stretch and grow. We need friends around us who share similar values and goals and who are willing to share and celebrate our successes as we do theirs. Friends and other associations who are interested in learning and growing will help us far more than people who are not.

7. Don’t Be Too Hasty About Revealing Your Plans

It is not wise to be too quick to divulge to others what our plans or goals are. Doing so can even work against us. In his widely watched TED talk, Derek Sivers says that studies have shown that when we share our plans or goals with others  , we are less likely to follow through with them. We tend to think that we have done the important job of telling people what we are going to do and then slack on actually doing what we said we were going to do. This is because our brains get messages mixed up. Our brains confuse talking about the project and actually doing it. Somehow our brains think that the fact that we have verbalized our intentions, that means we are or have done the most important job.

It is easy to see how this pattern can lead u to fall into self-doubt because we have failed to deliver on what we said we would do. So then we believe or we trick our mind into believing that we can not accomplish things. The circle of doubt begins again. It is better to play quietly, work quietly and stun people with the results so the they can say “Wow! where did that come from?

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

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