Next Sunday, I’m going to be doing my first solo radio show. OK, we’re not talking Radio 1 or anything even remotely of that scale. Instead, I’ll be playing to a small - but I like to think distinguished - audience of my peers on an internet radio station, who know their music and many of whom are themselves DJs…no pressure then. I’ve wanted to do a show like this for years, and I’ve been invited several times, but have found a myriad of excuses not to do it. The old self-doubt ‘demon’ was always there on the peripheries, reminding me ‘I’m not good enough’, or ‘who would want to listen anyway…’
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gone through periods of self-doubt, or certainly moments when I’m just not sure if I’m saying or doing the ‘right thing’. There are those times when I’ve probably worried more about what others are thinking of me, than focusing on the task at hand. Or where I’m in fear about potentially getting it wrong, which can actually prevent me from doing what I want to do.
But although that pesky gremlin can get in the way, I’ve learned over the years that the best way to overcome the doubt, is often to just DO. And the more I just DO, the more the self-doubt diminishes, the more confident I can feel about my choices – even if they don’t work, or deliver on expectations. It is the process of overcoming that is actually more rewarding and empowering than the outcome.
So here are some tips for you if you feel that self-doubt creeping in and getting in the way of you being the amazing potential you are.
1. You’ll never know what someone is actually thinking – let that one go!
Much as you’d like to think that you ‘just know what they’re thinking’, you really can’t know. You are not a mind-reader. So, when you fall in to the trap of assuming you know what people are thinking about you, it can just add fuel to the fire of self-doubt.
We spend far too much energy concerned and worried about what others will think of our actions, and it literally holds us back. If you want to avoid being judged or criticized about anything, you might as well do nothing…And that isn’t going to help you fulfil our potential.
“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” Brian Tracy
2. Stop comparing yourself to others
This one is particularly challenging today given our exposure and involvement in so many social media platforms. What wonderful lives our friends are leading…how blissfully perfect their exepriences…how beautiful they look…what a gorgeous home they have…what a brilliant job he has…No wonder so many people feel inadequate! So much of those things are veneer…glossy filters through which to project to the world the life they want people to see them having. But when you get underneath all that ‘stuff’, you come to see that each of us is on our journey, with our own challenges, issues, concerns, worries and yes, highlights and joys too. No one’s life is perfect and most of us are just doing the best we can with what we’ve got. So, follow your path, your journey, focused instead on what feels good for you.
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” Brené Brown
3. Just do it
I know it’s hard to just go ahead with something when those worries and doubts are there, but if you ask yourself, ‘what’s the worse that can happen?’, often the answer is manageable. Rather than get caught in that stuck-ness of indecision, it’s far better to step in to action, and adjust your course as you go if you need to. Action also creates focus and when we’re focused, we are present so there’s no room for worry in that space. Besides, life is living right?
“Begin doing what you want to do now. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake.” Marie Bayon Ray
4. Get into gratitude
I’ve written and spoken a lot on this in the past and I can honestly say, this is one of the best practices you can get into and one that has certainly helped me over the years. An attitude of gratitude nourishes you on every level. The daily action of either writing or thinking about what you are thankful for helps you focus on what you have and what is working in your life rather than what is lacking. You can more easily see the evidence of how good your life is rather than seek out excuses for why it isn’t working. And this in turn makes you feel better about yourself.
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” Zig Ziglar
5. Look for evidence for what you do well
Foster the relationships that make you feel good and when you need a bit of reassurance, ask those friends and family for their encouragement. They’ll remind you and give you examples of the times you have succeeded and achieved good things, in case you need a refresher on what you’re capable of. You can also do that for yourself too: look back over your life and see how more often than not, things have turned out OK, and even if they didn’t on one level, you probably learned some valuable lessons along the way.
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Maya Angelou
6. Positive self-talk works
I’ve found mantras or affirmations work well for me. Choose one that you feel best describes what you want to be feeling – in the present tense – and keep it nice and simple. Repeat as often as you can. Seek out upbeat and positive talks, meditations, visualisations, books, podcasts…anything that basically has you feel better about yourself.
“In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.” Dalai Lama
7. Brush up on your skills
Confidence really comes from knowing how to do something well. Often that takes practice and experience, so it’s no wonder we feel self-doubt when we haven’t done something before. At times, you do just need to take a leap of faith and dive in where you can. But often there are resources out there if you seek them out. You can find ways to practise or learn more so you feel more prepared and therefore more confident.
“As practice makes perfect, I cannot but make progress; each drawing one makes, each study one paints is a step forward.” Vincent Van Gogh
We can take comfort in the fact that it’s a very human thing to have our doubts and fears at different times in our lives – me included for sure. The great thing is, when we step out of our comfort zones, well - that’s when the magic really happens.