Once, when I bent over once in 7th grade, my great-uncle made a “rrrriiiippppp” noise behind me. As if my behind were so massive it was going to rip out my jean skirt. I blushed bright red. I couldn’t look my uncle or my grandfather (to whom he made the comment) in the face for the rest of the day.
Then in 8th grade, on a field trip when I grabbed a third slice of pizza, I overheard one guy say to another “no wonder she’s so fat”. Boom! Eating disorder started.
I’ve ranged from a little too-skinny to much too fat (a 100-pound range) and back TWICE in my life.
At the root of it all?
Specifically, that little voice in your head that says mean things.
It’s only been the last few years that self-doubt has not been the dominant voice in my head.
What changed? And can you did what I did?
I changed. More specifically, my thought patterns changed through mindful effort.
Below, I’m giving you action steps you can take. Apply them to your life. Banish that little voice. In fact, I have two printables at the bottom to work through to help you with your mind re-set.
Before we go any further, though, I want to clarify something. Not all self-doubt is bad. Someone who is overconfident and unrealistic can be as bad as someone who is stuck in the land of “I can’t even try because I’ll fail.” Doubt is a natural human condition, and nothing you can do can get rid of it altogether.
I’m talking about getting rid of the bad self-doubt. The self-doubt that you know, deep down inside, is Nasty Negative Nellie who does no good for anyone.
Do you know where self-doubt comes from?
Find the origin of that voice. The personal story I shared above was about the origins of my eating disorder.
I’ve fought long and hard over the last two years to change my mindset about my weight. It’s not about the image in the mirror. It’s about my health.
When I go with my husband to festivals, I don’t want to have to stop after three blocks to catch my breath. I don’t have to do that now. I’ve lost 25 pounds. I still have a ways to go, but I no longer obsess about every bite I put in my mouth and then berate myself feeling guilty. And you know what, I haven’t blown up like a balloon! That little voice of constant nagging didn’t burn a single calorie for me. What a waste of time and effort!
Find the origin of that little voice for you and squash it. Beat the hell out of it.
Not all self-doubt is bad...
Take criticism seriously. We grow from criticism. Two of the harshest things said to me in my adult life were two of the things I really needed to hear.
But don't give into every criticism you hear...
I love that quote above by Emerson. There are three kinds of people in life.
- Those who do everything they can to support, inspire, and uplift others. You know those people. You love those people. You want to BE one of those people. At least, I do.
- Those who are just kind of there. They don’t really have an effect on others; they just live their lives. They’re good, fine people…don’t get me wrong. They just don’t have an emotional impact on others.
- Those who have criticism or a negative thought for everything. I don’t think they’re bad people. In fact, I feel kind of sorry for them. Can you imagine going through life with such an outlook?
So if you get criticism, look at the source of it. If it’s coming from someone who is a source of inspiration, maybe their words have some validity. But if it’s coming from someone who naturally has a more negative take on life, maybe it’s time to let their words just roll off you.
Also remember that people don’t know what’s going on in your life. They may THINK they do, but they don’t know what it’s like to walk a mile in your shoes. And you don’t know what’s going on in their life. For all you know, that negative remark may have been from someone who was just having a crappy day and really had nothing to do with you.
Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle...
I can’t remember where I heard this. I know it was in some blogging course I was taking. But this has been SO important for me with blogging. And with life. I look at the big bloggers- Ruth Soukup at Living Well, Spending Less, Lindsay Ostrom at Pinch of Yum, and Kelly Holmes at Sticky Blogging (<<<that’s an affiliate link…you HAVE to take her course!)- and wonder if I’m EVER going to get there? But I’m looking at there middle (or ending) of their journey. And comparing it to my beginning. How silly is that?! We all started at the same place. They started their blogs one day with zero page views too.
So take a look at your life. Are you looking at someone else’s ending and comparing it to your middle?
8 Steps That Will Get Rid of Self-Doubt
1. Identify the thought.
Before you can do anything, you need to identify self-doubt thoughts and beliefs. This can be hard to do. Keep a journal if you need to. Use the worksheet below to write down those thoughts at they arise. Then come up with a valid, accurate, positive statement to follow those beliefs up with. (see step 3.)
2. Find the origin of these thoughts.
Is the origin valid? If it’s a lack of skill in something, then acquire the skill. We’re all capable of learning! I’m so amazing at how many people think learning is hard or something they can’t do. If you’re reading this, you’re capable of learning. There is also a worksheet below about finding the origin (and current behaviors) that feed into negative self-doubt.
3. Make a new “thought train.”
I’m a computer geek, so the whole “if-then” aspect of thought and action makes me happy. Example: my old thought was “God, I’m so fat.” Before, if I thought that, my mind immediately starting listing reasons the thought was valid. And what I was doing wrong. And how things were never going to change. Well, I can’t change that original thought. It’s still going to pop in my head.
But now, IF that thought pops up, THEN I have my new, written down mantra I read “I’m walking (or cycling) everyday. I care about my HEALTH, not the image in the mirror. And the most important part of me is NOT that image in the mirror…it’s the actions I take everyday and how I help others.” Make a new thought pattern. When the IF happens, pick up your piece of paper and read the new THEN.
4. Talk to someone you trust.
Pay a therapist if you have to. But say all those negative thoughts out loud. Just saying them out loud can make you realize how ridiculous or exaggerated some of them are!
5. Make a “no more excuses” rule.
No more “I should have/could have/would have”. You either did or you didn’t. In the immortal words of Yoda “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
In blogging, I didn’t “try” to launch a product. I went ahead and did it. It didn’t go as well as I planned, though it did all right. Not a problem. I’m refining the product. I’m fixing the launch process (side note: people love video, I hate video….the people win…I”m learning video). I’m re-launching January 1st with Life Organized 2.0.
6. Learn self-compassion.
For some reason, it’s easier to extend compassion to others instead of myself. I don’t know if I’m unique in this or if this is a universal human condition. But would you ever actually say some of the things you mentally think at yourself to another person?
7. Take action despite the doubt.
Not all self-doubt can be banished. But you need to take action despite it. Step outside your comfort zone. Learn something new. That little voice of “bad” self-doubt will get smaller each time you make a new achievement.
8. Make sure your actions align with your purpose in life.
Whether you’re religious or not, living a purpose-filled life is important. Analyze self-doubt in light of your purposes. Are they valid? Or invalid?
While I haven’t banished self-doubt completely, it’s no longer the dominant voice in my life. Honestly, it was really rude of my great-uncle to do that. And those two guys? As a teenager, I hated them. I don’t know them now, but I DO know I don’t care what they think of me now. Why in the world would I let those self-doubts that grew from that dictate my life NOW?
Origin of thought worksheet. The file is in pdf below, but you can also click on the image and save to your computer.
This is for picking one self-doubt/limiting belief that is dominating your thoughts. Work through the worksheet, analyzing the origins, current events that relate to this thought, and behaviors and other thoughts that reinforce the belief.
Finally, find a new thought or thought pattern to replace this thought with.
Origin Worksheet <<<<Click there to download
If-then worksheet. The file is in pdf below, but you can also click on the image and save to your computer.
Identify self-doubt thoughts and other limiting beliefs. When they pop into your head, have a new thought/pattern of belief that you recite instead.
IF: I don’t understand this, I’m so stupid.
THEN: I don’t understand this YET. But I’m constantly working on it! It will come.
IF: I’m so fat.
THEN: I’m worried about my health, not the image in the mirror. But right now- today- I’m eating normally and went cycling. My path today is for health, which I will achieve.
If-Then Worksheet <<<<Click there to download