During such unprecedented times, there creeps in our minds some room for self-doubt. As days pass, idly, procrastination, boredom starts to accompany us, along with which one starts to doubt oneself, their capabilities, work ethic or evaluate the decisions we made in the past.
People start to question whether they are “good enough” or if they “deserve” a certain consequence of an action. This is known as self-doubt. It usually occurs when there is a lack of confidence or being unable to react, think or feel in a way we need to.
Self-doubt often triggers anxiety and as a defence mechanism would lead a person to overthink, except for helping them, it makes them even more anxious.
That is the time, one often questions: Why does everyone else seem to be doing good when I am not?
Certain levels of self-doubt are healthy, to grow as a person, to grow out of our comfort zones. It gives one a better understanding to improve oneself and reflect on our behaviours. I wouldn’t call it self-doubt but give it another name – ‘Self-reflection’
In a world that worships the exceptional and puts the “hardworking” on a pedestal, it is normal for self-doubt to creep in…
Self-doubt becomes unhealthy when a person begins to fixate on all the negative aspects of behaviours which leads to the person obstructing their own path to a healthy mental life.
People start believing that they do not deserve the things they have or that they will never succeed in life or that they are not worthy of being loved. Unhealthy self-doubt consumes and eats away at self-esteem, self-worth and self-efficacy. You need to understand how self-doubt can manifest in order to be able to change that unhelpful voice in your head.
THE INNER CRITIC
Self-doubters often use psychological mechanisms and perpetuate their unhealthy attitudes towards themselves. Many people believe that it facilitates growth, however, it can become detrimental if it turns from self-reflection to self-doubt.
- THE SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY
Our neural pathways form grooves influenced by the way we speak of ourselves. For example, if someone kept calling themselves a loser or said that they were no good, these thoughts are then ingrained in their psyche and become true. The words “I can’t” establish a self-fulfilling prophecy as people are convinced that they cannot and hence, hardly put any effort, leading to more disappointment, reinforcing their own negative beliefs, repeating the cycle. YOU CAN CHANGE this by writing down your thoughts and having specific affirmations to change each one. Now, every time you catch yourself having that ‘negative’ thought, you need to say the affirmation. Repetition of this positive affirmation will change the neural pathways and over time, change the belief. You will also notice that as you keep practising this skill, the number of negative thoughts you have about yourself will reduce.
- SELF SABOTAGING
What exactly is self-sabotaging? It is a defence mechanism of shifting blame away from us to something outside or other than our own effort. We do this to reinforce the notion that the situation has failed because it is outside our control. For instance, if a person has the thought that they will fail a test, it will demotivate them to study. It is the fear of failure that is deep-rooted in our minds, if the cycle continues for too long, it will in time lead ourselves to believe that we are unsuccessful, incapable of getting anything done and as a result, the amount of effort we put in will decrease and lead to failure. The beliefs we have about ourselves often manifest into actions and we often don’t take the appropriate actions to protect our beliefs.
- THE IMPOSTER SYNDROME
Self-doubt and the imposter syndrome are closely connected to each other for they lead people to assume or suspect that their achievements, accomplishments were only possible because they got lucky, that their efforts or abilities did not hold any meaning. Many times a person holds the belief that they are an imposter and soon their colleagues, friends and family will realize this and see them for the “imposter” they are. Conventionally, depression and anxiety are the pre-cursors of the imposter syndrome. When a person begins to associate their achievements or success to factors other than themselves, they avoid themselves from the realization that they too like everyone else is deserving and worthy. The image below explains how it manifests in our minds.
- LACK OF SELF KINDNESS
The lack of self-kindness in a person is indicative of how people deny themselves their right to achievements or their own sense of achievements. For instance, some people may always be more critical of themselves as compared to anyone else around them. This pattern is common among the majority of people; that they’re nurturing, supportive and understanding towards their friends but harsh on themselves, sometimes harsher. Individuals that shower themselves with the same nurturing, understanding and supportive spirit, are one step closer to accepting their mistakes and growing towards a happier self. As one goes onto doubt themselves, it is in due course that they tend to isolate themselves and seek approval of people, taking things too seriously and feeling upset about their actions which they see as mistakes.
HOW TO BREAK THE CYCLE OF SELF DOUBT
- Its good to be proud of your work – There is a difference between bragging and appreciating yourself. GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT where credit is due and realistic and will help reduce that self-critical voice, even if it is a gradual process.
- Connecting with others fades the self-doubt – Get in touch with those who are genuine and appreciate you for who you are. This helps one see things that they may have difficulty noticing for their own good, their friends simply help them reflect on aspects of themselves for better comprehension of their behaviour or personality. Isolating oneself will only make the downward spiral worse, one might not feel like engaging in social activity but must give it a try, most likely their friends are also struggling from similar experiences. If one does not know how to go about having this conversation, they should simply start by asking the question, “What do you all like about me?”, taking turns, gaining insights, one will not only relate but help someone recognise some positive aspects about themselves too.
- Connecting with yourself – Observing your own patterns gives one opportunity to grow. One can try out yoga, meditation to seek clarity, try journaling to get in touch with their emotions, even track their mood to see what sets them off. For instance, if a particular activity like painting brings one peace, they must paint whenever they feel they’re stuck in chaos or need to relax. Going on runs or exercising also boost one’s mood for they release endorphins, which reduce our perception of pain.