When We Think We Can’t, But We Actually Can
Self-doubt is one of the enemies of our confidence. It happens when we tell ourselves we can’t do something. But you know what? We CAN! And we’re going to remind ourselves how…
Self-doubt has a sneaky way of causing us to hesitate or pause, stopping ourselves from taking action. This action may be embracing a new experience, practising a new skill or it could be facing a difficult challenge.
Either way, the self-doubt makes us think we can’t. But we actually can.
Life is a series of new experiences, growth and improvement.
The problem with self-doubt is it hurts our confidence.
Either it conditions us to thinking we’re not good enough or capable enough, diminishing our confidence. Or it means we feel the need to summon even more confidence to overcome the task facing us.
And if we are someone who feels we need to build our confidence, this can be a double-whammy. It is as if we are beginning way behind the starting line. But we still need to compete.
At work in particular, this is where I have noticed self-doubt creep in the most.
You know that feeling, when you have a presentation coming up and you don’t feel quite prepared. Or you have an important meeting with a senior stakeholder, and you’re nervous about how it will go. Or the sense of dread at an upcoming deadline, and you are unsure if you have what it takes to get through the work.
These are the instances of self-doubt that make the job even harder to get done.
I have been there. I have also mentored people who have been there.
So, how have I got through this? What advice have I shared with the people I have mentored?
It may seem ultra-simple when I write this down, but practising it will take effort and energy to achieve.
I want you to back yourself!
You have gotten through so much already. You have proven yourself over and over again. There’s so many accomplishments you have achieved in your career and life journey so far.
This is proof that you have what it takes.
Yes, it may be a new experience. But, you have already been through new experiences.
Yes, it may need a new skill. But guess what? You have already developed many skills in your career and throughout life. We might be born with some ingrained talents, but they become strengths over time when we practice them, through new experiences. And through these experiences, we develop new skills.
Yes, it may be really difficult. You might be putting yourself out there, and may be concerned that you’ll face rejection, or embarrassment or failure. But unless you try, then you will never be able to get through to the other side to look back and go, ‘wow, I did that’.
And I know you have done that so many times before — looking back at something that once seemed insurmountable, tough, complex. But you got through it.
So, this message is quite simple, but so powerful…
Trust in your ability and your strengths and your qualities.
Once you have summoned some self-belief, then take action.
Taking action is what builds our confidence. We can have self-belief up to a point, and then it is through the taking action piece that builds our confidence.
Inaction breeds a lack of confidence. Ironically, it is the lack of confidence and self-doubt that holds us back. And then the cycle repeats. We must break this cycle. It is our duty to ourselves.
Moving into our courage zone is where we find our potential. So, we need to take action, and step out of our comfort zone, and into the courage zone, and do the thing!
We know we can.
If we believe we can’t then we can’t — or at the very least we will make it incredibly hard for ourselves to ever try.
We know we can.
We trust in our ability. It is time to take action.
Once we have taken the action, completed the task, delivered the presentation, finished the confrontational meeting, we can celebrate our success.
Too often in life we get through something difficult, only to then think about facing up to our next difficult challenge.
It is so important that we pause and acknowledge our successes.
Reflection is a great way to reinforce our accomplishments and learn any extra lessons to be had through the process.
The questions we need to ask ourselves are:
- What worked well?
- What didn’t? (And why?)
- What can we do better next time?
Taking a few moments to acknowledge what we’ve done and understand how we can be even better into the future will boost our confidence. It gives us a map for future reference of how to get it done — starting with backing ourselves.
Getting through the challenge and taking action builds our confidence. The reflection piece is the icing on the cake. It reinforces trust in our ability and increases our knowledge for next time.
Smile, knowing that you have grown and proven again that you are a capable and skilled individual.
Why Overcoming Self-Doubt is So Important
Work may be where I notice self-doubt the most, because there are often clear deadlines, milestones and responsibilities to meet.
However, where self-doubt is even more sinister is when it affects our ability to realise our true potential and live the life we desire.
This is because there is not necessarily a timeline, or someone managing the results of our life’s dreams. There’s not as much pressure or impetus to overcome the self-doubt. Well, certainly there’s not as much external pressure. The pressure is most likely to come from how we feel about our achievements and progress towards our life’s goals.
Either way, work or life, overcoming our self-doubt is a skill we need to practice to build our confidence and live to our potential.
Reflecting and Acknowledging
These are the steps we must take to replace self-doubt with self-confidence.
And it is not just a one-off. These are steps we can take over and over again to strengthen our confidence muscles and memory.
This momentum will help us the next time we face a difficult challenge. And the one after that.
Before we know it, we will be living our life confidently, living to our potential.