Self doubt feels like a constant presence, doesn't it? I mean it. Is. EVERYWHERE!
Like when you want to try a new hobby and that little voice tells you, you won't be any good at it. Or when you're finally given that big project at work—offered a chance to show your boss your stuff—there's a little voice in your head that likes to ruin it for you.
And there's a whole slew of things that voice/your brain can pick from, isn't there? Like that one time, in fifth grade, when you totally froze while you gave your first speech. Or that other time, at your first job, when you totally screwed up the register and your boss had to come bail you out in front of customers. You're just a constant failure, aren't you?
But here's the thing: We all wrestle with self doubt. That blogger you admire? She's got self doubt. The small business owner you wish you could be like? He's got self doubt too. You just don't see it. You see what everyone wants you to see. Because we like to put up a brave front. In fact, we've almost been trained by society to show nothing other than our most competent selves. We do it in business. We do it on social media. We do it at networking events.
And that has merit.
But it also has consequences.
Because when all you see is happiness and success and achievement, you start to believe that that's how the rest of the world is processing. Meanwhile, you have mornings where you can barely work up the willpower to take a shower. Which obviously means you're behind the imaginary curve of life because LOOK at all the THINGS that other people are DOING! What are you doing with your life?! And that's when the self doubt starts to kick in. Who do you think you are? What makes you so great?
The good news is that everyone is just as lost as you are. In some way or another. But they're really good at hiding it—unless the right person comes along and asks the right question at the right time. Which is slightly comforting.
Here's my trick: Whenever I feel the self doubt creeping into the corners of my mind, I try to press pause. And in asking myself why this feeling is cropping up and what is the best way to fight it, I'm usually able to discover that it's all a trick of the brain. Because my brain wants to protect me at all costs. It doesn't want me to feel like a total loser.
And I'm thankful for that.
But sometimes, I need to cut the cord.
It's kind of like the tipping point going from childhood into adulthood, right? When you leave for college, your parents still say things or do things to try to keep you safe—but at some point their advice carries less weight. And you do for yourself what you think is best even though they may be screaming that the exact opposite of what you're doing is actually the better decision.
My brain is terrified of the unknown. And it will do its best to guide me toward the safe, toward the known, toward the obvious. So it resorts to self doubt. Because sometimes that's all it has to stop me. And it does stop me. Almost like it can shame me into doing what will keep me safe.
But here's what you have to ask yourself when this happens to you: Is denying yourself an experience, an opportunity, or a memory the safest route?
But not always.
So the next time self doubt rears its head, be sure to tell your overactive imagination thanks—and push through to the other side.
Your brave front is optional.
Allison Janda is a self-published author. She has three dogs, one of which acts more like a cat.