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Overcoming Self-doubt

By: Nanju Francisco

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’

Then, by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”  ~Vincent van Gogh

Have you ever experienced being excited about doing something, only to hear that “voice of doubt” within you, telling you the last minute that you cannot do it? If so, don’t despair. You were not the only one who was discouraged by this “negative voice” in the past that allowed “doubt” to ruin your plans. In fact, all of us, experience “self-doubt” from time to time which—if we allow it to conquer us—will overtake our lives and in the process ruin our chances of succeeding and reaching our goals in life.

Self-doubt is the biggest “success killer” there is, and if you let it control your life, you are definitely heading toward failure. It can rob you of motivation, excitement and inspiration to do something that you like or love and therefore prevent you from getting what you want in life and becoming successful.  

The good news is, you can overcome self-doubt by doing the best you can to silence that negative voice within you. How? 

  1. Decide to face your fear —The best way to silence the voice of doubt is to decide that you are willing to face whatever it is saying to you like: “You will not succeed; you cannot do it; you are too old; you are not good enough, etc.” If you face your fear and ignore that “negative voice”, you will be surprised to learn that you can actually do what you thought before was impossible. For instance, if the voice was saying: “You are too old for this,” you must decide to ignore that voice and remember that a lot of older people had accomplished more things than their younger counterparts. Age is just a number. It should not stop you from reaching your goals.

  2. Do exactly what the negative voice is telling you to avoid—Yes, you read it right. When in doubt, just do it. Just like the statement of Vincent Van Gogh above, “by all means, do it and the voice will be silenced.” For example, I always had this fear of dying in a car accident. So, I listened to that voice of doubt, telling me that I could not and should not drive a car in order to avoid being killed on the road. For many years, I was afraid of even thinking of enrolling in a driving school. Finally, I told myself that even if I knew how to drive, if it was my time to go, then nothing could stop it. So I decided to ignore that voice telling me that I could not learn how to drive and that I would kill myself if I ever got behind the steering wheel. So I gathered all my courage and enrolled in a driving school. I found out that I actually enjoyed driving and it helped me overcome my fear of driving on the road. And after silencing that voice, I finally got my driver’s license at one take!

  3. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes—No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes so don’t kick yourself if you make a mistake along the way while trying to overcome that “voice of self-doubt.” Forgive yourself if you did not accomplish what you had set out to do. Be patient with yourself and try to understand that you are a normal human being, prone to committing mistakes but also have to ability to correct them and improve in the process. The most important thing is, you are advancing toward your goals and overcoming your fear. As the old adage puts it: “Try and try until you succeed.” 

  4. Avoid negative people –Sad to say, instead of encouraging you and giving you support, negative people would only “drag” you down and reinforce your self-doubt. If you hang out with them, the tendency is you will absorb their “negative vibes” and become negative yourself. There is truth in the saying: “Birds of the same feather flock together.”  So the best thing to do is to avoid these type of people for your own good. Associate with “positive people” to learn what makes them successful and get good advice from them to help you reach your goals and dreams. 

  5. Stay focused—No matter how impossible the job at hand or the goal is, you must stay focused. The more you stay focused on your goal, the closer you get to reaching it. This is a great way to develop persistence and patience, as well as self-confidence. Once you have developed these important traits, there will be no room to entertain that “voice of self-doubt” anymore. 

Remember, if you ever come across that “voice of doubt” again, the best way to silence it is to take action, just do it and not allow yourself to listen and to entertain it. By doing so, you will become a stronger and better person and have the ability to overcome whatever challenges the future might have in store for you. If you persist in overcoming your self-doubt, then your efforts will be rewarded in the end.