It creeps in again, quietly, sneakily; eager to ride on your shoulders. No matter how often you have told yourself you’re smart, you’re strong, and you can do it, it doesn’t matter. Self-doubt is still there, riding along without invitation.
Maybe this doesn’t happen to everyone. Maybe for some people, they manage to get rid of their fearful thoughts once and for all and from then on, their life is cake. But for me, and I’m guessing probably a lot of other people, that is definitely not the case.
I’ve struggled with anxiety and self-doubt most of my life. There have been times that it has overpowered me and I’ve failed to push through. But there have also been many times in which I learned to cope, and overcame my fears so I could go on living my life how I wanted to, not dictated by my nagging insecurity. It’s all a learning curve, but over time I managed to come up with some ways to help myself push aside the bad thoughts.
1. Ask myself, how important is this? On a scale of 1 to 10, (1 being it’s not even worth being put into words, and 10 being this decision might legitimately kill me) where does it fall? AND if it is something that is indeed very important, ask myself what is the worst that could happen if I fail? And is failing truly worse than not trying at all?
2. Remind myself of my why. Why am I doing this? Evaluate my priorities and go from there. Is it necessary? Is it going to help me move forward with my life, or help someone else do the same? Chances are it’s worth the risk.
3. Remind myself of all the times I have succeeded, or made good decisions that paid off. I literally have a list in my phone of things I’ve done that I’m proud of! Sometimes a simple reminder goes a long way.
4. Power poses! This is a real thing. You can use your body language to literally trick your mind into feeling more confident and powerful. Before interviews I like to stand with a strong stance, hands on my hips, or in a superman pose. Whatever helps, right?
5. Acknowledge my fear. Remind myself that it’s okay to have doubt, because I’m only human and life is full of ups and downs. What is not okay is to let it determine my life!
One morning before work, I was expecting a particularly stressful day and felt myself beginning to panic. Negative thoughts were swirling all around my head, imagining everything that could go wrong and all the reasons I wasn’t strong enough to handle it.
Because I’ve always had a vivid imagination, in the midst of my anxiety I was able to imagine my fear as an actual creature. A dragon, to be specific. Then, since I told myself I was in control of my life, I shrunk that dragon down in my mind to the size of a little toy that I could hold in my hand, and stabbed it with one of those tiny plastic swords that used to come in fancy drinks with a cherry stuck on the end.
In my head, I literally slayed the dragon of my self-doubt.
I still went in to work feeling somewhat nervous, but that visualization of me physically overcoming my fear helped me to calm myself and take control.
I believe that for me self-confidence and self-doubt will always go hand in hand, but thankfully I now have some tools to cope. The trick is to do whatever I can to be my strongest self, and keep on slaying that dragon.