One of the most common challenges that I’ve seen in the self employed industry, overcoming self doubt. People call it the imposter syndrome, lack of self confidence, negative self talk, etc. Doubting yourself while trying to market yourself is quite difficult, as you can imagine. So let’s talk about it.
Sometimes self doubt comes from past conditioning. Someone in your past has somehow made you believe that you’re not good enough or not worth it. You may not immediately remember when or where it happened, or who influenced you to think that way, but usually if we dig deep enough, we’ll find that one incident, that one interaction, that made you lose confidence in yourself. If you never really take time to review your life, you may actually start owning that belief that you’re not good enough. Initially it may have been someone’s opinion, but you start to believe it… you start to make it yours.
Over time, a vicious cycle is formed. Because you believe you’re not good enough, you remember failures more than successes. You choose to dismiss positive beliefs and identify with negative ones. When you succeed, you say, “I’M JUST LUCKY,” and when you fail, you say, “THAT’S WHO I AM.” And because you radiate an energy of self doubt and insecurity, other like-minded weak people start to be attracted to you. Birds of a feather flock together. You re-affirm each other and defend each other against positive people. Your little self doubt bubble is formed. Strong positive people get tired listening to you and they move away. As you move through different phases in your life, these weak people become not only your friends, but your spouse, your business partners, etc. It becomes harder for you to succeed in life and business, because you drag each other down. Neither of you can stand independently or inter-dependently, so you live dependent of each other… leaning on each other for security… feeling needy and frequently tumbling back into bad habits. And because it’s hard to achieve anything in this type of environment, your belief that you are truly a failure is re-affirmed. You start forming a certain life pattern. For some people, their self doubt has made them repeat the same mistakes over and over again. It could be repeatedly attracting the wrong life partners, making the same mistakes in business, or building habits that harms your physical or mental health. And this is how the vicious cycle spirals you down into an endless negative abyss.
The first step to overcoming self doubt is to be aware of it, how it started, and whose voice it actually is. And if it’s not originally your voice, stop owning it. Let me just tell you about a client and let’s just call her Sarah:
Sarah had a happy childhood until she went to boarding school, where in an effort to exert discipline, her teachers frequently made her feel that she was not good enough. She grew up with that belief and attracted a husband that abused her. Each time he did that, he told her she was not good enough. She was strong enough to end the relationship, and met a commmunity that boosted her confidence. For a while, her business soared and she achieved amazing quantifiable results. She then got into another relationship, where she was made to feel like she was not good enough. Her business tumbled and when I met her, she was again in self doubt. She rejected good business ideas and procrastinated on activities that she knew would be good for her business. So basically, her self doubt was manifested in self sabotage. Although she had ended her second relationship, her self doubt still had power over her. So what was the awareness that helped her snap out of it?
Her self doubt did not come from her. It came first from her teachers, then her 2 husbands. She was TOLD that she wasn’t good enough. But the fact is, she was good enough. She had proven with hard facts that she could achieve amazing results in her business. But she didn’t yet know how to differentiate between the voices of the past and the hard facts of her achievement. So I asked her, “When you say you’re not good enough, whose voice is it actually? Do you really believe it’s your voice, or are you just repeating what your teacher and husbands told you?” She started to be aware of the difference, but she couldn’t verbalise it in an answer yet. So I asked her another question, “Did you really achieve those amazing results? Was that a fact or an opinion?” She answered that one quickly and easily, “Oh, it was a fact. I mean, my revenue shot up. So it really happened.” I continued, “Was it just one time, or did you do it consistently?” She answered the latter. So I repeated my first question, “So when you say you’re not good enough, whose voice is it actually? Do you really believe it’s your voice, or are you just repeating what your teacher and husbands told you?” This time, she was ready to answer, “It was their voice, not mine.” I sealed it with, “Facts don’t lie. Opinions, however, are debatable.”
A belief is like a tabletop. It needs legs to stand. And legs of a belief is proof. If you’ve been listening to negative opinions, focusing on your failures, and discounting your achievements, then you’ve been using the wrong legs to support the wrong beliefs. So if you want to shift to a new belief, you need to collect new proof that you are indeed good enough. What are the facts? Be fair to yourself. Look at the achievements, not just the mistakes. Take the lessons from your mistakes as your learning point… that’s the beauty of making mistakes; you win a lesson.
There are many other reasons and interventions to help people overcome self doubt. Obviously, it’s hard to capture them all here. If you found this helpful, please share it with your community. You never know who’s hiding their potential in the self doubt closet. They may look alright, but they’re screaming for help. Maybe this will shine some light.
If you want to connect or talk to me about how to overcome self doubt and grow your business to its potential, book a discovery call here.