Last weekend, I was invited for a podcast interview.
A day before, the host sent me the questions and told me he’d like to talk about topics like self-worth and confidence, especially with regards to women.
He also told me I was the first female guest even though he already interviewed more than 20 people. He would have a hard time finding female speakers because he doesn’t know where to look for them and how to approach them. So he believed women have less confidence, less self-worth, and less belief in themselves.
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Honestly, I don’t know the statistics. I don’t know if and how much more confident men are compared to women.
However, what I know is that no matter male or female, many people are struggling with self-doubt and insufficient self-worth.
We put too much value on what others say, get discouraged way too quickly and start doubting ourselves instead of questioning others’ opinions.
Yet, in my perception, that’s not a problem solely dedicated to women, so many men also struggle to believe in themselves. We are all in this together, and doubting ourselves from time to time is normal, but it’s not necessary.
Life is so much more fun once we believe in ourselves and our abilities instead of doubting our greatness all the time.
Building strong confidence and getting rid of self-doubt doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process, but there is a lot you can do to accelerate the process:
1. Accept the self-doubt
Without accepting your self-doubt and all the negative emotions you feel, you can’t beat it.
Acceptance is the first yet most important step when it comes to getting rid of bad habits.
By suppressing our emotions, we allow them to become bigger and take control of our lives. When we accept them, we make the first step to removing them.
Accepting your self-doubt doesn’t mean that you confront yourself with negativity and start feeling miserable.
On the contrary, once you accept the doubts, you can cope with them much easier. You can even start talking to them as if there were a part of your body:
Hey little doubt, I know you are here. I respect you but I am stronger than you and I won’t let you control my life.
It sounds weird, I know, but it helps.
Every time I feel negative emotions like fear or envy, I take a deep breath and tell myself that I am stronger and better than what I feel at that moment.
2. Do you really doubt yourself?
..or do you believe what others say?
Sometimes, our self-doubts don’t even belong to ourselves. We actually trust our abilities, and we know what we are capable of, but we get insecure due to others’ opinions.
Real confidence means you are not attached to what others say or think about you.
It means you can deal with negative responses and different opinions.
Sometimes, we start doubting ourselves because of the judgment of a family member, friend, or coworker.
That’s a pity because it’s your life. Others don’t wear your shoes, they don’t walk your path, and they will probably never fully understand you.
Before you start beating your self-doubt, find out if it’s really your thoughts.
Maybe, you just need to get rid of a few people who regularly tear you down?
Don’t let others’ opinions control your life. Make sure that you are the only person in the drivers’ seat of your destiny.
In her book “Top Five Regrets of the Dying”, Bronnie Ware summarized the five biggest regrets of people who are close to death. One of those five statements is:
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I know, death is something we hardly want to talk about, yet, there is a lot we can learn from people who already spent a lifetime living.
In the end, there is not much that is relevant, it’s the memories we make, the love we share, and the happiness we spread throughout our years.
3. Change the voice in your head
Above, I already mentioned talking to your doubts. I know that it sounds weird, but again: it works.
Accepting your self-doubts and learning to deal with them is much more effective than suppressing them. Once you accept the negative voice in your head, you can change it.
If you feel confusion and disbelief, tell yourself that it’s okay. Insecurities are not a bad thing per se. They can even be lifesavers. We just need to know how to deal with them.
Every time you sense a negative thought, stop for a minute. Take a deep breath and let the tension go away. Don’t try to avoid doubts, embrace them. You are stronger than your doubts. You don’t need to be afraid. Just appreciate them and softly change the voice in your head.
Sometimes, when we take a deep breath and stop for a minute, we already realize that our insecurities weren’t valid.
Take your time. When you sense negative emotions, don’t rush yourself. Once you feel calm and relaxed, start shifting your thoughts from the negative to the positive. Think of all your prior accomplishments, focus on your future goals, and surround yourself with people who you love.
4. Admit your flaws
Not having self-doubts doesn’t mean being flawless. On the contrary, emotionally stable people know their strengths but also their weaknesses very well. They know they don’t have to be good at anything and openly share their imperfection.
If you meet a person who continually talks about his strengths and all his amazing achievements, you can be pretty sure he actually lacks confidence and is probably hiding his insecurities behind all his words.
Being genuinely confident and strong means knowing yourself very well, including your weaknesses.
Make sure to practice self-reflection, be aware of your strengths, but also accept your flaws.
Once you openly admit your imperfections, you can look for ways on how to compensate them. For example, you can get help from others who are better than you in a particular field.
5. Question your own criticism
Whenever you find yourself talking poorly about yourself, be your own critic.
Ask yourself whether your self-doubt makes sense at all. Is all the criticism valid, or are you too hard on yourself?
Would you ever talk poorly to someone who you love? Telling him he is not good enough or he would not make it?
Too often, we upset ourselves by being too harsh and counterproductive. We don’t appreciate our strengths and wins but instead focus on a few little mistakes.
Think of the last time you talked poorly about yourself. Would you let anyone else speak to you like that? Would you let anyone else discourage you and doubt all your greatness?
I hope not.
And you shouldn’t do so either.
Be your own biggest cheerleader.
If you don’t trust yourself, why would others do so?
6. Appreciate your successes
Whenever we doubt ourselves, we don’t see the positive anymore.
Yet, most of our lives are full of beautiful moments and successes we can be proud of. However, it’s our job to highlight these moments, even if we feel bad.
It’s your job to feature your strengths, highlights, and all your successes.
Whenever you find yourself in doubt, focus on the bright side. Keep remembering all your achievements and what you’ve accomplished so far.
If you struggle to do so, start a success journal.
At the end of every day, take notes on your achievements. Even if it’s just a tiny to-do, appreciate yourself for accomplishing it.
Again: Nobody will cheer on you if you don’t do so. Doubting yourself is the door-opener for anybody else to question you as well.
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