Self-Doubt is Debilitating
True story - 20 years ago I didn’t feel worthy of a $25,000.00 salary!
After 9 years of raising our daughters, I began the difficult task to return to the workforce, was turned down for every job I applied to and told my skills were ‘out-of-date’.
It felt horrible to be rejected, but what was worse was how I felt about myself. I remember sobbing to my husband ‘Who will ever pay ME $25,000 (the going rate) after being out of the workforce; all I am is a stay-at-home Mom!’
For us, it was the right decision for me to leave work to raise our family. Yet the shame of being seen as just a ‘housewife', made me feel so inferior to others. Just imagine how little confidence I had and what I projected to would-be employers?
It took me years to recognize that these doubt-filled feelings of being inadequate and 'less than' others were born from a broken internal monologue and low self-worth.
I didn't believe in myself.
Many people struggle with self-doubt or inferiority to others; you hear it in the stories they tell. It usually sounds like this: ‘I am not old enough’, ‘I’m too old’, ‘I don’t have enough experience’, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I don’t have the credentials, ‘No one see’s me as a leader’, ‘ I’m a new immigrant'. Unfortunately, just like me, these are also the beliefs that hold them back.
Since our society is hardwired to compare, compete, and judge how we stack up to one another it shouldn't be surprising we are hard on ourselves. But the stories we tell our self are usually cruel - filled with negative assumptions, judgements and even boldface lies!
The good news is, also like me, not only can you overcome the stories and lies you've been telling yourself, but also re-write your future to be filled with success!
Steps to Overcome Self-Doubt
Here are five steps I use to overcome self sabotaging doubt, improve self worth and plot the path to success.
Step One - Become Aware Of Your Story
First, notice the negative story you say. What does your rhetoric sound like? Really listen to those words. Better yet, catch yourself saying it aloud to someone else. What shame or inferiority are you carrying around? Can you hear it? If not, the people who know you well will already know it, so just ask them!
These negative stories show up as the excuses you use whenever you consider an opportunity but don’t pursue it! What is holding you back?
For me, it was "I'm just a housewife, who would hire me?"
What is yours?
Step Two - Check the Facts
I can confidently say that most of the internal chatter you tell yourself are lies! Time to do some fact checking.
• What evidence - actual data and facts - do you have to support the negative story you keep saying?
• What assumptions and beliefs you are holding onto?
• What are you afraid of? Is it real or perceived?
• Ask yourself ‘how do I know this is true’ or 'would that be an issue for anyone else?'
Then check yourself...am I jumping to conclusions or minimizing my strengths?
Step Three - Look in the Mirror
Reflect. Make a long list of your strengths and what makes you uniquely you! Think about what assets you've been told you have. Consider how you accomplish tasks, what are your stand-out qualities, or the strong points that have carried you through your life.
Brainstorm the list with others to identify all gifts and traits you bring to the world. These are your truths, and your super powers!
There is only one YOU and each of us have different attributes. Often negative self-doubt overlooks your greatness and focuses on the wrong characteristics! I can pretty much guarantee you were short-changing yourself.
Step Four - Reframe the Story
Change how you speak about yourself. Use the unique skills do you possess. Reframe by reviewing those attributes and how they positively impact others.
Redefine your experience - what you have spoken down about could well be a positive adventure or mountain you climbed! Reinvent that narrative - think about what it says about your character.
Create a new script then practice using it. Focus on finding the jewels that benefit or provide value to others.
Example: Here was my truth ...reframed:
• Raised two highly independent, well adjusted girls
• Obtained my CHRM and CHRP through night studies
• Operated two successful home-based businesses evenings and weekend
• Worked part-time as a teachers assistant for 4 years in a nursery school, as well as completing their Pay Equity plan
• Led hundreds of volunteers in fundraising activities for three different schools
• Served at two different schools as School Council President
My unique skills (never actually 'out of date'):
• Change leader
• Very Resourceful
Far from the 'housewife' I kept calling myself - in fact, I had great foundational skills that would benefit an ever-changing environment, I learn and adapt while helping others grow! I just needed to reframe what I was telling myself to find these gems!
Step Five - Be Your Best Friend
Learn to love who you are. Have faith and trust in your own abilities. I say "be your own best friend."
Many people find positive affirmations to be helpful to quiet their internal critic and self-doubt. Take the reframing you discover and build positive affirmations to replace the BS as it surfaces, just like a best friend would say to you! Best friends would not talk to you the way you’ve been talking to yourself.
You're damn good - now tell yourself that regularly! Learn to toot your own horn. Best friends find opportunities to lift you up!
Put your list on sticky notes where you can see them and practice saying them out loud to really hear them. Best friends help you stay in touch with reality.
Know That You’re Not Alone
You don’t have to be out of the workforce for 9 years like me to struggle with self-doubt. Yet, so many people toil with these feelings. Few really stare down their deepest doubts.
The good news is once you tune into to a more accurate view of yourself you’ll soon realize that there is nothing that can stop you from moving forward. NOTHING!
You have plenty of talents and skills to offer and the more you 'own' your own greatness, the more you can overcome that negative voice to succeed!
If you are struggling to move forward, find support so it doesn’t take you as long as me! Close friends, family or mentors can help you discover what makes you great.
If you prefer to go it alone, I have a self-discovery tool you are welcome to use to help you get started (no email needed, it is a pdf to save).
Or reach out to me when you’re ready to hire a trusted coach and adviser to push you past any of your perceived limitations!
Not only have I been there myself but I’ve also helped countless people break through to accomplish their dream goals; I’d be honoured to help you too!
There is just no doubt about it, YOU are absolutely worthy of much more!
Elaine Adamson is a leadership consultant with Dots Leadership Solutions Inc. A natural dot connector. Passionate about coaching team effectiveness and leadership development she shares over 25+ years of real-life tips and tricks that really work!
Elaine believes you can discover and leverage strengths to forge a strong team dynamic despite business challenges or organizational change.