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Self-doubt is generally viewed as a negative quality that we try to avoid or “grow” away from. Our culture tends to idealize cool confidence and an unshakeable focus. These are traits that are admirable in others and may seem to lead to positive results, but when gone to an extreme confidence may be seen as ignorant or arrogant. The same goes for self-doubt. Let’s take a look at how self-doubt can be used as a powerful tool to help us make better decisions instead of running away from it.

Considering the Upside of Self-Doubt

Self-doubt can be used in a creative and constructive way. Confidence leads us to action, and self-doubt leads us to prepare. When our self-doubt is brought in balance and not at the extreme of exacerbating our anxieties that make us feel stuck, it can be the force that pushes us to think and reflect on better options. Is there a way I can do this better? Is this the right thing to do? If it’s the right thing, is it still good to do it? Self-doubt makes us face the hard questions and instead of running away from it, chastising ourselves for it, or allowing fear to consume us. However, we can do even greater things when we listen and work with it.

Self-doubt makes us vigilant

When self-doubt arises, we can use it to process what is wrong. Something about this decision or plan is making us worry about something. Rather than allowing it to be a definitive feeling of “this is not right”, we need to ask ourselves what is not right. Are my fears getting the better of me, or is there something I really need to be watching out for right now? Self-doubt can make us vigilant to real issues that we are missing or inform us on how to make more effective or better decisions.

Self-doubt can lead to self-awareness

Not only can self-doubt be a signal for, ‘something’s not quite right’, it can be a sign for us to slow down and take a step back. I am not comfortable with this situation or decision, but others are. What does this tell me about myself? It can be a moment for you to reflect if this action or plan genuinely represents who you want to be. It may be the right action or an effective one, but does it live out the value you care about?

Self-doubt builds our self-confidence

Without something to be afraid of, we don’t need bravery to overcome. Fear provides us the opportunity to prove to ourselves what we are capable of and self-doubt can give us the information we need to plan to overcome. Our confidence can be built not only on hopeful beliefs that we can do it, but it can be built on the lived experience of overcoming our fears. Listen to the self-doubt as long as you can without becoming overwhelmed, and learn what are the things you need to do to prepare to take on the task and be successful.

In its extremes, the fear that self-doubt triggers can be crippling and overwhelming. If we are able to bring it into balance and notice it for what it really is, we can embrace it rather than run from it. We can use that fear to guide us and propel us to action instead of giving in to it and being stagnant. Self-doubt can be hard to listen to and the voice may be louder than the others in our head. If you’re looking for help in sorting through your self-doubt and fears, I can help you along that journey. Reach out and we can work toward bringing some peace about your doubts so they can be powerful tools instead of something you run away from.

Written by therapist Daniel Pak

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