There are few habits as devastating to your success as self-sabotage. This can be a lifelong habit that will undermine your best efforts. Though you have worked for many years to get a college degree or learn a complex skill, your self-doubt will continuously make you feel as if you are not deserving of the good things in life. You may take jobs that are below your worth, be with people who are no good for you or remain stuck in a game of not being good enough.
But, in truth, self-doubt does have many advantages, as long as it doesn’t become the theme song of your life. First, let’s look at some of the advantages and then get into the unhealthy ways chronic self-doubt can ruin your life. Everyone has periods where they are doubtful of their abilities, even the person who seems to be confidence embodied is plagued with doubt about something.
Self-doubt should not be feared or avoided. Your best bet is to accept it as part of the human condition. A lack of confidence can lead to great improvements in your skill set and life, greater awareness of your faults, an openness to new ideas, a greater ability to accept change, and gratitude towards those who help you.
Self-doubt, in its healthiest forms, reminds you that you are only human and are flawed. You do not know everything and need others to help you strengthen your weaknesses and fill the gaps in your knowledge. This can help you network with others and gain lifelong companions that have skills you don’t have. Together the two of you can build something bigger than each of you could separately. Doubt doesn’t mean you are a waste of space or useless, it only means that you are aware of your self. This is the healthy form of self-doubt and it is fantastic, but now let’s look at the less healthy version.
#1 YOU HOLD GOOD IDEAS IN
People who have chronic self-doubt tend to hold in their good ideas. You may think that others have already thought of your brilliant idea or downplay your skills and knowledge. You may feel like others have way more skills and talent than you, so may put yourself in the shadows, assuming you are restating things. This can backfire in team situations, because your point may not have been thought of, and if you don’t speak up, it won’t be added to the brainstorming session. Speak up. Be heard. You are an individual and your point of view may not have been addressed or thought of before.
Self-doubt may come knocking when you feel that certain skill sets are valued more in meetings than yours. Diversity in skills, background, perspectives, and brains is what makes effective groups, though this may get lost when meetings are taken place. You were hired or asked to attend the meeting for a reason. Your contribution is valuable.
#2 OVERTHINKING IS A BIG THING FOR YOU
Rather than ask for want you want you may get stuck in a thinking rut. Before you start down this sordid trail make sure you have first asked for what you want, directly. This may give you the solution you were looking for and so you won’t need to think of a workaround. Oftentimes, when self-doubt is riding shotgun or driving, you may feel doubt about expressing any preference. This may lead you to accept anything given to you, which is not the life you want to lead.
To prepare yourself, give yourself hope for a “yes” with the knowledge that you may get rejected. This reality will help you feel more entitled to ask for what you want and not feel crushed if you don’t receive it.
Fight false beliefs you may have picked up in childhood or some other time about assertiveness. You’re not being annoying or will be perceived harshly if you assert your desires. Everyone in the world wants something. And they ask for it to get it. So should you.
#3 YOU HAND OVER DECISIONS TO OTHERS
When you are feeling doubtful in an area, you may defer to someone else thought they may not be as invested in the result as you are. You may let someone else make the decision even knowing that their decision is not what you would like. This person may not be looking out for your best interest, but their own or their company’s, but your self-doubt may try to convince you they know better than you.
At times, you may ask an expert for advice, but it’s always good to defer to your own judgment as you are the person who has to deal with the outcome of the decision. In this case, doubt is a good thing as it pushes you to rely on your own knowledge and instincts.
#4 YOU OBSESS OVER OTHER’S REACTIONS
This may lead to you getting stuck in decisions paralysis, which could delay decisions by weeks or months. Your intense interest in making a favorable impression and getting a positive response can really disrupt your productivity and forward growth.
A person’s response to a request you make is dependent on a variety of factors that have nothing to do with you. They may have eaten bad food and now are in a bad mood, have biases, or are ill. After you have polished your submission or talking points to a pleasant, but not perfect, sheen, send it to whoever needs it. In some cases, you may want to submit multiple proposals so the person can get a good feel for your variety of ideas. Each idea IS good enough for this person, whoever they may be.
#5 YOU GET STUCK ON PAST MISTAKES
One past mistake can affect all of your future decisions and lead to inaction. This can severely limit your future growth as you remain in your comfort zone to avoid making the same mistakes. It’s best to take one major lesson from that mistake, learn from it, and try this endeavor again.
Often, more is learned from taking action rather than thinking or researching obsessively.
So, go out there and invest again or take that job. You have learned from that mistake so you are unlikely to repeat it.