Confidence Hack #3: Replace Self- doubt with Self-trust
We tend to believe that questioning of the world around us, including our own decisions, is generally a good thing. After all, the great philosophers encouraged us to do so— that every wise person should know that they know nothing (Socrates) but that we must dare to know (Kant).
Armed with such wisdom, it’s not hard to fall into the trap of doubting everything. It’s all part of learning and growing up, we are often told, a natural path toward gaining insight into ourselves and the world, into being more open-minded and exploring the roads less travelled.
However, too much questioning is good only up to a point. It is a great way to challenge the status quo, of course, so we can grow as individuals. But when it turns into a constant self-doubting marry-go-round, it is not a good place to be. It can cause our self-assurance to plummet, can open a Pandora box of unwanted thoughts and may gradually make us feel as we are losing control over our lives.
Simply put, our insecurities are affecting our confidence in a big (and not favourable) way.
Generally, the best solutions, wise men tell us, often reveal themselves when we are able to correctly identify the problems.
So, to be able to successfully fight our constant self-doubting, we need to firstly recognise what triggers it. There are few main instigators of our insecurities, which, naturally, require different strategies to overcome them.
“Fear of the dark”— of the unknown and of failure, is a very real and powerful monster to many of us. However, sometimes fear can be actually a good thing, as it may serve as a protection mechanism, warning us of potential dangers. But more often, fear undermines our self-esteem, regardless of whether our anxieties materialise or not—we still worry and stress.
Psychologists often recommend taking up creative visualisation—imagine ourselves succeeding, or exposure therapy—facing our fears over and over, so that their power over us diminishes over time—as successful strategies for striking back on fear.
Overthinking, tough, is undoubtedly the biggest source of our insecurities. It makes us doubt ourselves and our decisions, leaves us vulnerable and exposed, with a volatile sense of self-esteem. The issue is not that we spend time crafting plausible alternatives and solutions, but the fact that we may still be unsure if we have made the right choice afterwards. In other words, we second-guess ourselves, which damages our confidence. Meditation can be very helpful here for de-cluttering our minds. Practicing decisiveness also comes handy—once we’ve made a choice, we should stick to it. No more “ifs” and “coulds or shoulds”—draw a firm line in the sand.
“Not enough-ness”— I’m not smart/ good-looking/ fit/ successful/ rich enough…” is a great fuel for our insecurities too. We all know this. But we still compare against others and we still put ourselves down. So what if we don’t look like a super-model, aren’t the next wunderkind of the Silicone Valley, or have not put many checkmarks by our “Things-I-should-achive-by-the-time-I-am-30” list? We really shouldn’t beat ourselves up.
Achievement can be defined in many ways, and wealth and success are not only measured in monetary terms.
So, we should start by setting the right perceptions and expectations about ourselves, based on our innate personality traits and talents. Focus on the qualities you already have—the blend of these is also what makes us unique, special and different from everyone else. Don’t dwell on what you wished we were born with—be it skills, abilities, or looks. Tap into your own “inner wealth.” And know that these are perfectly enough to create a “better me.”
So, in the New Year, it’s time to clear our minds from the constant self-questioning and to start believing in ourselves a bit more.
Because, as the great American writer and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:
“Self-trust is the first secret to success.”