“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath
What is self-doubt?
Self-doubt is defined as a lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities. It is different to self-esteem, which is how you feel about yourself and how you perceive your own value or worth as a person. Self-doubt is characterised by a negative belief in your ability to do something well or to start or finish something. So the problem is that you are making a judgement about yourself and your ability based on a faulty perception, situated in the past. You may also project this into the future and believe that you won’t be able to do something well. It represents a limited view of you in the future.
Everyone experiences self-doubt. It may come and go, or be related to a particular area or situation in which you perceive yourself lacking in some way. It can also be accompanied by feelings of uncertainty and may result in you not taking action or dismissing your attempts to do something.
What causes self-doubt?
Self-doubt may have originated with anything that led you to doubt your abilities or yourself. As a child you may have learnt that your efforts were not good enough because you tried your hardest and did not succeed. You may have overly compared yourself to others and used this as a measure to doubt your own achievements and success.
As an adult you might still be carrying around these old messages, internalised them and generalized them to other things.
How to overcome self-doubt
What’s holding you back now? Identify any learning or skills you need and give yourself permission to learn new things.
- Recognise your achievements and affirm yourself for your efforts. Take the position of an ideal mentor who recognizes your talent and ability.
- Silence the critic. Not by fighting it, but by listening to it in an open, curious way. Siphon out any aspects that might require your attention when doing the task. This will better prepare you for the task. Then shut the critic down.
- Believe in yourself. Remember that each new situation is an opportunity to do things differently. Make a time to take an action towards the task you want to achieve, or situation you want to master. Allow yourself time to understand the task and practice the skill.
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