Tell self-doubt to leave!

This is a subject matter rather close to home but I feel it is important to draw on my personal experiences when writing. 

Self-doubt often accompanies a lack of confidence. It forces one to question themselves; their thoughts, actions, capabilities and interaction with others. Those who self-doubt tend to over think and worry unnecessarily.

Those with self-doubt are likely to feel inferior to others and be reluctant to put themselves forward for opportunities believing someone else is probably better suited.

I remember being in the last year of primary school – a long long time ago. Our topic for the term was “fires”. We studied, received visits from the local fire brigade and watched videos on how quickly fires escalate. It totally freaked me out. For at least the next year, on going to bed at night, I took all plugs out of sockets in the kitchen. On jumping into bed I questioned whether I had truly taken them all out so I jumped up to take a second look. Of course I had!

As a teenager I constantly doubted myself.  I went over conversations in my mind. I worried about how I came across to others. My thoughts included;

“Was my quietness annoying to others?”
“Why do I struggle to speak to people especially in large groups?”
“What was it about me that made me appear strange/awkward?”
“Why can I not be like everyone else?”

Whilst I excelled in English and History, I needed to work much harder in Maths and French. Some of my peers were fluent in French and excelled in tests and exams. I just could not get the hang of it.  I wondered why I could not grasp learning another language or pick up algebra. I began to question my learning abilities. I remember entering my maths class and seeing “What is z when y is 7 trillion by 4 trillion?” I felt like telling the teacher I am not enjoying this journey and would he mind if I got off!

I am an ordered person who likes everything in its place. So much so that I check and check again. On occasions, I have driven my car, parked up and locked up without much thought. When walking away from my car I wonder if I locked up or put the handbrake on. These are actions I take automatically so it just does not register. In case you are wondering I have walked back to my car to find I have locked up AND put the handbrake on. I felt such a ninny!

See below for a few tips to reducing self-doubt

1. Where does your self-doubt stem from – always go back to the root.

2. If you are a “checker” ask a family member to check the back window is locked/laptop is switched off. You are more likely to take their word for it and the responsibility is no longer yours but theirs.

Have you suffered with self-doubt?
What methods did you use to overcome this?
Were you able to identify the root of the problem?


Stop settling for less

Why do ‘we’ as in people in general, settle? Comfort, fear of the unknown, self-doubt, lack of confidence, laziness? I am sure there are many more reasons which I will not list today.

Settling means we are aiming too low, at the point at which we can do it with our eyes closed.  Settling means we are aiming for less than we deserve. As the saying goes if you expect less you will receive less.  Why should a person have less than they desire? If it were your friend or family member I guarantee you would encourage them to punch above their weight and not below it. Yet how often do we go for less and talk ourselves out of what we really do want.

We all have the ability to learn, granted some faster than others. Whilst one person will apply for a job knowing they do not meet all the criteria, another will only apply for jobs in which they meet every single one. Person A probably has the intention of learning the skills required in advance and on the job. Person B is not confident enough to put themselves in a position where they have to learn new skills.

What if they are too slow?
What if their colleagues discover they are less informed than they showed at interview and on the application?
What if they fail?

What they should be asking is;

What if I soar?

In relationships including platonic friendships, one can choose to settle for less by not addressing issues when they arise and for tolerating unreasonable behaviour.  I have been in this position and over time my eyes opened to the fact that I deserve to be in the company of those who add to my life and have my best interests at heart. In turn, I am the same with others. Whether a friend or family member, as an adult you have the right to decide who you wish to be in your life.  When one believes their feelings, opinions and general well-being does not matter they are likely to undervalue themselves. This then manifests itself in the dynamics of their relationships – usually “all give” and “no take”.

Tips to stop settling;
1. Be honest with what you desire – there is no need to discuss with anyone just write it down
2. Be willing to learn whether on the job or self-taught (so many free online courses)
3. Aim higher – if you are sitting an exam or test aim for the maximum score
4. Set yourself goals and identify the time frame in which you will meet them.

So whether you want to finally pass your driving test, learn to speak in Italian or move up to a more senior role take an action today which will bring you closer to achieving this.

Can you think back to a period in your life when you settled?
What encouraged you to come out of your comfort zone?
What would you advise someone who has a tendency to settle with less?

You are enough

In life we can feel we are not good enough because of our current circumstances, words others have spoken over us or simply having a constant “glass half empty” mindset.  We are wired so differently, some of us are thick skinned and can easily let negative feelings slide off of our backs, others can sit and churn over these feelings for weeks, months or even years.

It is our responsibility to fight, yes fight off the feeling that we are not good enough, that we do not belong, that we do not enhance or bring anything to the table.  It is damaging to our self image and personal development.  It can mean we do very little whilst maintaining a “what is the point” attitude or way too much in the hope of someday arriving at the point when we feel we are finally enough.

I have definitely felt I was not good enough at various stages of my life due to a number of factors; the most prominent two being, having an absent father and being verbally bullied in secondary school.  As a child and teenager I often wondered why my father chose not to play a part in my life. It made me feel inadequate, rejected and misplaced in society.  I wrongly assumed I was not special and therefore did not expect to be treated as such.  I wondered why a few of my peers gave me nicknames and enjoyed humiliating me in class. I was a shy, awkward looking teenager who steered away from large groups at school and instead hung out with one or two friends.  I blossomed late (17/18) and looking back was definitely not the epitome of “cool”.  For years I carried guilt, shame and an extreme inferiority complex. 

One day, I cannot recall when (I was definitely a Christian though), I made a decision to like myself. It probably sounds bizarre but throughout my teenage years and early twenties, I did not like who I was, what I looked like, the fact that I was shy and an introvert.  When one does not like themselves they tend to overdo everything in the hope of feeling they are just as “good”, “special” and “important” as another. In my case, I did not require recognition from others but from myself; I craved to have the feeling of waking up and going to sleep knowing I was enough. You see, the battle was happening in my mind not with anyone else.

It is fine to strive for progression in our lives but not because we believe this is what will make or define us.  We must avoid the temptation of living a life of constantly proving ourselves to ourselves.  It is exhausting and soul destrying.

How can you begin to accept yourself?

1. Think about your motives. What drives you?
2.  Think about what you enjoy doing and take this up as a hobby.
3. Treat yourself once a week – a new book, gadget, nail polish, coffee and cake in a “nice” tea shop.
4. Surround yourself with people who encourage and inspire you and in turn with those you can inspire and encourage. It is a two way street – we should aim to give and not only to receive.

Have you ever battled with not being enough?
How did you overcome this, perhaps you are still on the journey?
What advice would you give to someone facing this challenge?


Do “it” with boldness!

I have no idea who the man is in the photograph above. What I do know is he is walking with an air of confidence and boldness. His bright orange trousers suggests he has enough confidence to carry them off. I can imagine him walking into a room and completly owning it.

As part of the praise and worship team in my church, I recall a training session I attended some years ago. The voice coach, a wonderful woman with years of singing experience, advised us to sing out in boldness especially when we are leading a song.  She also added it is not the end of the world if you start on a wrong note if you do it boldly. I distinctively remember thinking if I made an error I would prefer it to be done discretely – clearly too conscious of how I looked to others.

I have watched many a music rehearsals, some online with secular singers and others in person with worship leaders. I have noticed when they start on the wrong note, they accept this and simply ask the musicians to start from the top with great confidence. No shame, no blame, no embarrassment.

Whatever we do in life whether in our careers, hobbies or church ministry; we should do it with boldness. Nobody gets it right all of the time but when we step out in boldness, we assure others they can trust and rely on us. If we appear unsure of ourselves, others will be unsure of us. If we openly doubt ourselves, others will doubt us.

Whilst we may not feel bold at particular times in our lives, we should aim to act bold. Nobody will know about the nerves and anxiety you have before giving a speech/presentation – not unless you plan on telling them and why would you?

I have found, the more you act bold, the more you will feel bold. If you are approached to take up a project, give a talk, though you may have fears this should not hold you back. If you are not keen on interviews, apply for several jobs of interest in order to enhance your interviewing skills.  If at the very least you are not appointed to the role, you now have a little more interviewing experience than before. Do not underestimate the lasting impression of a firm, genuine handshake. Let people know they have met with you.

A few tips to stepping out in boldness:

1. Say yes and learn how to later
2. Practice your skill at home
3. Remind yourself you are not and never will be perfect
4. Learn to laugh at yourself

Are you bold?
Was it self taught or have you always had this trait?
What advice would you give to others who struggle to act with boldness?