How to Let Go of Self-Doubt

I’ve been reflecting on my clients and on many folks whom I know. I’ve noticed that many people struggle with self-doubt and lack of confidence even though they are clearly smart, capable, creative, and resourceful.

The theme of self-doubt emerges repeatedly. I see it all around me. Self-doubt can lead to all manner of symptoms: lack of confidence, anxiety, depression, insomnia, under-earning, over spending, weight gain, diminished creativity, relational conflict, isolation, distraction, and much more. Can you relate? I see folks who are brilliant, shining lights who hide that light. They suffer as a result and the rest of the world misses out on their brilliance.

Looking back, I can see how true it has been for me, too. I call myself a late bloomer because I lacked confidence for so much of my life. Shame and anxiety were crippling at times. I was capable, smart, and resourceful all along, yet, I continually doubted myself. I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t believe I was OK. Until recent years.

My mama was a bright light who faded out over the years and I believe so much of that was because of her self-doubt. I think her fading light has been a huge motivator for me to figure out this self-doubt issue.

I see it in other folks, too. They have a multitude of gifts to offer the world but hold back because of self-doubt. Hiding, dimming their light. So many live unfulfilled lives devoid of the deep meaning they desire and are capable of living. Do you experience this? I understand. I’ve lived it.

When I reflect on how I have been able to move through the self-doubt, two things come to mind. One, I have always had someone come alongside me to offer guidance. Someone who believed in me. Someone who saw my light and reflected it back to me. Not perfectly, mind you, but enough for me to catch a glimpse of my true essence. I do this for my clients. I reflect back to them the light I see in them. I reflect back to them their brilliance. It’s easy to do because it’s so clear to me.

Two, I have come to understand how we create our realities. I used to think that life happened to me and I had to manage, conquer, control, avoid, or suffer it. Boy, did I suffer. Now, I understand that at our essence, we are whole. We’re OK! As Pema Chodron says, you are the sky, everything else is just the weather.

I also understand that we create our reality via our thinking. We cannot control our thoughts but we can turn our attention away from them or towards them. The thoughts we buy into, we feel, thereby creating our reality. I bought into the self-doubt thoughts and they defined my life for decades. I totally experienced it as if I were it. That’s how this human system is designed. We feel what we think. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Self-doubt is a thought we buy into. Innocently. By buying into it, it feels incredibly real, as it is supposed to feel. When we regard it as real, we find all kinds of “proof” that it is true. My “proof”? Bankruptcy, foreclosure, struggles with alcohol, failed relationships, and more. These things appeared to support my self-doubt. In truth, these things were not proof that I wasn’t capable, rather they were the result of me buying into self-doubt. I acted or didn’t act from a place of self-doubt rather than from a place of clarity, wellbeing, and wisdom, all of which are innate.

There is always a new thought on the horizon. We get to choose which thoughts we will feed and which we will leave alone. If we leave them alone, they will pass. Neuroscience shows the truth of this. When we trend a neural pathway repeatedly, it becomes all the more ingrained. The minute we stop treading it, it grows over.

This is fantastic news! I no longer have to buy into my thoughts of self-doubt. When I don’t buy into them, the self-doubt pathway grows over just as an untrod path in the woods grows over. I don’t have to take thoughts of self-doubt personally or seriously anymore and neither do you. It’s not that we won’t have them, it’s that we no longer have to entertain them. They are no longer the enemy, rather, they are neutral, no longer having power over us.

How does this work practically? Well, let’s say you’ve come up with an idea that you’ve never attempted before or you’re facing an extremely challenging situation. It feels completely out of your wheel house. Without the understanding that your true essence is whole and that you create your reality via your thinking, you may begin to worry that you won’t be OK. You might begin to attach to the thoughts that tell you you’re not capable, that you’re not smart enough to find your way, that others won’t understand, that you will surely fail. Your thinking revs up. I'm sure you know exactly what I mean. You begin spinning stories. Your thinking exponentially multiplies and you may find yourself utterly overwhelmed and paralyzed as a result.

When you understand that your wellbeing is innate and cannot be harmed, you are more likely to try new things and to find your way through challenging situations with more ease. When you allow your thinking to settle down, you have more clarity to move forward. You are no longer afraid to experiment. You feel more confidence. But even if you do feel fear, you don’t take it as seriously and personally. It becomes neutral. You’re clear, settled. If you're not, you know to wait. Once settled, you can see your next step when you need it. Always.

You get to experiment. You get to create. You get to give your gifts. You can trust your resilience, resourcefulness, and wellbeing. They've been there all along.

I'd love to hear how it is for you. Leave a comment in box below. I'd be delighted.

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