Moving from self doubt to confidence

Moving from self doubt to confidence is a challenge for men and women.  After all self doubt a natural human condition. 

Every person with a pulse will have times when they have are or  experiencing doubt.  And it impacts all ages, genders, career levels and industries,  No one is exempt from that gnaw in the gut that crunches the thoughts of ‘am I good enough?’

Self-doubt raises its little pesky bubble at the best of times let alone at the most challenging. But job market, economic, political and social challenges over the last few years has really stoked the coals of feeling extra doubt for many.

And here now in 2024 the job market is shifting back to an employer vs candidate one. This will give rise to new career self doubts especially when facing ageism, redundancy or a host of other reasons why a person is searching for a new role or direction.

Reflection and performance analysis combined with nervous energy to succeed is also part of human existence.

But trouble emerges when self-doubt crosses over the line from reasonable self-deliberation into destructive immobility.

Decision paralysis and feelings of inadequacy fuel the rumble keeping professionals stuck.

Difference between self doubt & low self esteem

Self-doubt and low self-esteem are different but often intertwined. Self-doubt is characterised by uncertainty when faced with new challenges, responsibilities and crises. It magnifies when focussing on past failures.

Low self-esteem is a lack of belief in one’s whole capability and intrinsic value.

It is reported in Psychology Todaythat 85% of the world’s population has low self-esteem.

The Victorian government’s Better Health Channel lists some of the root causes as negative feelings, fear of trying and judgement, perfectionism and low resilience.

Managing the road out to calm

There are 8 common doubt areas most faced. Once beliefs are tackled and reframed, doubt and inaction moves to trust and action. I can assure you that even the most senior of leaders and most accomplished men and women struggle at times with the following.

1. Reality truth bomb: appearances can be deceiving

The appearance of seamless success and confidence can be an illusion. Be very aware that appearances can be a pretence. It’s critical to never assume without knowing the reality.

Many embrace a ‘fake it till you make it ethos’. It’s worth remembering that all that glitters may not be gold.

2. Share to diffuse: silence destroys but sharing strengthens

Doubt thrives on the misapprehension of silence and shame. Sharing that you are feeling unworthy or a fraud can break the negative energy cycle.

Irrespective of whether you are a solo worker or a leader of thousands in the public sector, give yourself and others permission to accept that you are all part of a moving train of responses and feelings.

3. The jam jar: reality statements are not value judgements

When we are inside our metaphorical jam jar we cannot see our own label. But others can. Inviting others who support you to share perspectives of your value is critical.

Self-judgements can be incorrect and not shared by others. Do you need honest feedback and recalibration if your opinions are true? Mostly they are not.

Facts are facts and not judgements.

4. Owning your brilliance: you did it, you rocked it so own it!

Everyone has skills and values that are uniquely brilliant. Communicating with honesty and owning your value is not showing off or bragging.

Backing yourself and positioning your brand narrative and leadership gravitas is essential. It is not bragging to share achievements, yet many (especially women) shy away from communicating and owning their power and success.

5. Comparison rabbit hole: no one does exactly what you do in the same way you do it!

If you are comparing yourself with others please just stop as it’s a rabbit hole of angst. Embracing your unique differentiation is essential.

It is impossible that anyone else does exactly what you do in the exact same way you do it.  The only evaluation of importance is comparing what you did yesterday to what you did today and to keep learning.

6. Perfectionism: is a fairy tale without a happy ending

Expecting yourself to be 100% perfect, 100% of the time is not only balderdash but a mental health slippery slope. Procrastination sits in the centre of perfectionism thwarting action and progress.

Give yourself a break, you are not a robot but a human. As Ita Buttrose famously once said, ‘Done well is enough’.

7. Self-sabotage: quit the nonsense excuses that keep you small

Self-sabotage manifests in many pernicious ways. Resisting the help and services needed is a form of self-sabotage. If you don’t believe you are worthy of success and support you may refuse or cancel the exact help needed to get you there.

Fear of success intertwines around low self-esteem and self-doubt. Check the real motivations of your decisions or indecision.

8. Just dive in: action squashes fear

Susan Jeffers, author of ‘Feel the Fear Feel and Do It Anyway’ shares that ‘Not only are you afraid when facing the unknown, so is everyone else! This should be a relief. You are not the only one out there feeling fear

‘Everyone feels fear when taking a step into the unknown. Yes, all those people who have succeeded in doing what they have wanted to do in life have felt the fear – and did it anyway.’

Action is the only way to get into the flow and lose the self-doubt. Practice, persistence and courage are the fuel to knock fear away.

Australia has faced incredible challenges over the last few years. For some, this has exacerbated existing self-doubts and for others, a tranche of new self-doubts emerged.

Remember you are human will feel all manner of emotions and doubt and especially when in the job search ecosystem. But self doubt is a creative force when managed well.

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