Self Doubt: A Different Approach

I’m not sure if there’s a person alive who never experiences self-doubt but if there is, I’m yet to meet her. It seems to be an unavoidable component of the human experience; affecting all of us in different ways, to different extents, in different situations, while producing a range of different outcomes. Over the years I’ve worked with a diverse cross section of humanity who, to the casual observer, might seem to be a highly confident and capable, if not downright fearless, group of people. Policemen, professional speakers, TV personalities, entrepreneurs, elite athletes, psychologists, soldiers and many more.

But then things aren’t always as they seem.

There’s the fearless soldier who puts his life on the line without hesitation but when given the responsibility of talking to an audience of thirty school kids about his job… is a bundle of nerves and self-doubt. There’s the seemingly super-confident professional speaker who engages, amuses and enthralls her audience for an hour and then spends the next four hours stressing about whether or not they liked her. It happens. I’ve heard. And finally, there’s the funny, popular, charismatic dude who, away from the approving crowd, is overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy.

Not-good-enough-itis.

And while the idea of overcoming self-doubt sounds like a reasonable and logical enough goal on the surface (you may have noticed the plethora of books, courses and programs offering a range of ‘solutions’), with a little digging, observing and conversing with others, it becomes apparent that the likelihood of any of us living an existence totally devoid of self-doubt is pretty much… zero. 

Why then do we do it?

Why do we invest so much time and energy (and often, money) trying to eradicate something that seems to be a very normal and (most likely) unavoidable part of being us? You. Me. Is there a better way? A smarter way? A healthier way?

I think so.

When it comes to the process of building our best life (you know the one), could there be a more intelligent, realistic and empowering question than the “how do I conquer my self-doubt” one?

What about this one…

“Is it possible to make courageous decisions, do courageous things, take chances and produce amazing results while still being predisposed to bouts of self doubt?” 

Of course it is.
Welcome to my life.

Sure we might tone it down over time (a little or a lot) but as long as you and I have the capacity to fear, to stress and to over-think, that old emotional anchor ain’t going anywhere.

If the absence of self-doubt was a prerequisite for success, I would never have written a book, hosted a radio show, opened a gym, worked on TV, spoken to a single audience, coached an athlete, gone to university (at 35) or created this blog. No, I’d still be sitting on the couch hoping my shit would somehow work itself out.

Pfft.

When it comes to the challenge of self-doubt, maybe the intelligent goal is not to overcome it but rather, to create our best life despite it? ;)

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous February 17, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Yes, I can see it works well in theory, and it obvously works for you in practicality but for me there is a huge chasm between the two .
Craig, what do you do to cross that chasm?

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Craig February 18, 2013 at 8:38 am

Hi Anon. It actually works well in practice but that means ‘doing’ despite the fear, anxiety and self-doubt. Start with very small challenges and tasks and build from there. Break the big picture down into bite-size pieces. You’ll never ‘think’ your way to confidence and don’t forget, we’re all scared (at times), we’re all insecure (at times) and we’re all (kind of) the same. :)

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Love in India February 18, 2013 at 1:23 am

Once more I was reminded why I read you everyday Craig!

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Craig February 18, 2013 at 8:38 am
Kelly February 18, 2013 at 1:26 am

I’ve been made redundant and prior to that, I had the arrogance of employment! I felt entitled to bitch and moan about my well paying, cushy job and now I feel like a complete failure! Of course, I put on a brave face but when alone, the self doubt creeps in. Right now, self doubt is dominating my thought processes!
Done my cv, sent out applications and even doing a letter of intent for a Uni degree but still that insidious self doubt!
How to expel the demons??
HELP!!!!

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Craig February 18, 2013 at 8:51 am

Hi Kelly. As soon as you say “I doubt myself – and that’s okay” (and you mean what you’re saying), you put yourself in a more creative and resourceful state. Be as practical, methodical and logical as possible. Turn down the emotion (as much as you can), be solution focused, ask yourself great questions and control your controllables. Expect less of others and more of yourself. Don’t waste emotional, mental or physical energy on things or people your can’t change or control. Also, do your best to hit the pause button and find some perspective. You do have a challenge on your hands and that’s ok. The key is what you do with it. :)

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Kelly February 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Thanks Craig! Awesome advice!!

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Greg Reed February 18, 2013 at 8:38 am

Another insightful post Craig. Thanks for helping me save thousands on engaging those self help gurus when really I need to accept self doubt and ask a better question. I best get out that great book Stop F*#^ing Around and read it again. Thanks mate

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Craig February 18, 2013 at 8:51 am

You’re welcome Greg! :)

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EDITH February 18, 2013 at 9:10 am

You wise ole man you, what sort of meglamaniacs might we be if we were never in self doubt? Being human is not the easy road, but it’s an amazing journey. Especially with friends like you. Dribble dribble ;0))

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Craig February 18, 2013 at 1:21 pm

I love it when you dribble on me Edith… :)

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Evan February 18, 2013 at 9:35 am

Hi Craig, I’m a fan of small bets.

These are easier to proceed with when we are feeling doubtful.

What do you think?

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Craig February 18, 2013 at 1:21 pm

I think you’re smart Evan. :)

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dave February 18, 2013 at 10:32 am

‘When it comes to the challenge of self-doubt, maybe the intelligent goal is not to overcome it but rather, to create our best life despite it?’

…Craig, did you doubt that you could ever come up with the above pearler ;)

Seriously though, I’m going to make that my motto. It is absolutely spot on

Thanks once again.

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Craig February 18, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Now I’m worried about whether or not you like me Dave ;)

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Comfy February 18, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Craig you are the best!
I am with Dave in making that paragraph my new motto.
Simple but insightful.

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Craig February 19, 2013 at 8:06 am

Thanks Comfy! :)

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Vin. February 18, 2013 at 8:53 pm

For some strange reason I picture you sitting in your underwear when I read this blog. Is that weird or what?

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Craig February 19, 2013 at 8:08 am

Depends on what kind of underwear it was Vincent… ;)

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Anonymous February 19, 2013 at 12:59 am

Hi Craig,
I feel like you are talking to me when I read your blog. I think so highly of you! Someday I hope to schedule a telephone appointment. I think you are the most awesome motivational speaker/writer that I have ever come across,

Ruth

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Craig February 19, 2013 at 8:10 am

Thankyou Ruth :)

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