self doubt overcoming simple stepsSelf-Doubt can be a Dream-killer. Here's my approach to stop doubts dictating my life

There have been many times in the last 6 years when I've struggled with self-doubt, and it's a battle that everyone fights to some degree.

For me, there were always so many reasons to listen to the voice of doubt, so many convincing arguments, so many examples of past failure to rob my confidence. And by the age of forty-two I was well acquainted with the twists and turns of life, the challenges, the highs and the lows.

It's not that I hadn't had any success in life.  It's not that I failed at everything I put my hand to. In fact I was quite proud of some of my accomplishments.  But the self-doubts still rippled away at the edge of my reason, always pulling me back down to earth, always giving me a reason not to aim higher.

And try as I might, I could not seem to get free.  No matter how many positive thinking books I read, the teachings always seemed to provide only momentary relief, and I realized I needed more than that. I needed to learn to overcome the doubt once and for all.

Do I have What it Takes?

That's the real issue here. Do I have what it takes?

I can imagine a new life free from the daily grind, doing the things I love to do, not having to worry about finances, living in that luxury house, driving that luxury car.  But do I have what it takes to get there?

I could waste many hours looking at myself in the mirror and wondering if I really have it in me to make it.

It all seems so big, so distant, so way beyond my reach.  It's only for the superstars, it's only for the one who has it all together.

Stop Comparing

It's all to easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with others.  Comparison is such a powerful force it's used in marketing all the time - usually to make us feel inadequate or lacking in some way.

"Comparison the thief of joy." President Theodore Roosevelt 

Comparison can lead to jealousy, dismay, even hatred.  We can look at someone who is living the life we want, and then look at ourselves and see a big list of reasons why we could never get there, we could never be like that.

If we are to live to the fullest and discover what it means to really have purpose and direction in our lives then we can't live someone else's life. President Theodore Roosevelt had it right when he called comparison the thief of joy.

We must remember that no-one is born running. Once upon a time I couldn't walk. There was a time when I couldn't do math. Reading & writing were skills I learned at school. Interesting that in those early days doubts don't come into our minds. In fact, nothing seems impossible when we are young. Let's learn from that.

Building on Small Steps

I'm so glad that my school-teachers understood that I had to grow up to reach my full potential.  In my first years of school I wasn't asked to pass any exams at all.  I was simply expected to learn and do, little by little.

It's a principle that we have to take on board if self-doubt is going to be truly overcome.

I recently started to take note of my lack of fitness.  You know, late 40's, bit of excess weight round the middle, bit creaky in the joints. My wife will happily Zumba for hours, or work out to ballet fitness videos on Youtube, but then she is a bit younger than me.

I could get all hung up on the way I look and start to compare myself to other men my age, like Daniel Craig. Pointless. I am not going to aim that high.  Not right now. I have to start somewhere near the bottom of the ladder since I don't tend to do much more than walking, so any exercise to increase my fitness level or lose some belly-fat needs to be fairly gentle to begin with.

As we already established, I don't have what it takes, compared to some others.  Not at the moment, anyway. But I can get better, little by little.

To overcome the doubts in this area I have to be realistic. I'm not aiming for amazing abs, I don't want to run a marathon. For now I just want to feel fitter in general and reduce some flab. It's a short-term, doable goal.

I wrote more about short-term goals in this article.

This is my simple formula for overcoming self-doubt: start small.  Small steps, small goals, little changes.

  1. Stop comparing yourself with others
  2. Admit that you need to grow and develop
  3. Take small steps each day to carry you forward

Have a great week, and remember...

Small changes, powered by big intentions, are going to get awesome results.

Craig Pennell