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Silencing Self Doubt

We all have that little voice in our head that, from time to time, puts doubt in our mind.

Am I good enough to do this? Will I be successful in this field? If you are not careful it can become a real presence in your life that is constantly trying to undermine your confidence. So, when thoughts of doubt creep in, how do we get rid of it?

There are a few key principles that keep me staying positive, focused and confident that I’d like to share:

  • You cannot always control your circumstances or what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it.

  • Happiness is often a choice. I choose to be thankful for my circumstances no matter what they are because they could be worse.

  • If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

  • Someone is going to be successful; it might as well be you.

  • My faith is an important part of my self confidence. I know that God is in control and has great things planned for me. That thought alone keeps me positive. Two of my favorite bible verses along these lines are:

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Romans 8:31

“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”

You have to decide that you are not going to succumb to self-doubt and choose to hold your head up high. You’ve heard the term, “Fake it ‘til you make it?” That’s good advice in most situations and it does help with confidence.

While I have several examples of this in my own life, one example is when I was 19 years old, a college freshman and was being sued for causing a car accident. But the kicker was, I wasn’t in a car accident. How is that possible? Yes, it's a strange story. I witnessed a man and his young son run into a retaining wall on a residential street and I stopped to see if they were okay and call the police. He didn't want to call the police and they were fine, but his car was certainly damaged. Like a naive “good Samaritan,” I gave him my information if I could be of any help in the future. Not long after that, I received a notice that I was being sued as the cause of the accident. When I explained this to my parents, they wished me well in handling it. They were both running their own businesses and figured I could deal with this. So I was on my own. I couldn’t afford an attorney, so I decided that I would represent myself in court.

And that’s exactly what I did. I channeled my best attorney impression from the variety of crime movies I had watched and I was bold in the courtroom. I made sure that everyone knew exactly what happened using graphics and pleading my case. This wasn’t the time for self-doubt. I had a court case to win and money was on the line. In fact, I even put the guy's son on the stand and told him to remember he was under oath and that he might go to jail if he lies in the courtroom. Well, that brought him to tears and he confessed it wasn't my fault and that his dad had told him to lie about it. I thought that the truth would surely set me free. And thankfully, in this case, it did. I walked out of that courtroom, going head-to-head with a veteran attorney representing the plaintiff, and I beat him. This 19-year-old college freshman beat both of them! That was a huge boost of self-confidence. In fact, my dad asked me if I wanted to consider being an attorney after that and I decided it just wasn't for me. But I was grateful for the unique experience.

(You can listen to the full story here on the Goal Posts Podcast).

I realize silencing self-doubt is sometimes easier said than done. And, while women are increasingly prevalent in the workforce, even making up more of the students in higher education than men, the statistics show that women are less likely to have confidence in their performance. As women, we need to work on suppressing that negative voice in our heads that says we’re not good enough. If your performance records show that you are capable and successful, then why should you continue to doubt that?

In a recent article by The Atlantic, it explains that “in studies, men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both. Their performances do not differ in quality.” This creates what they call a “confidence gap.” Another illustration of this confidence gap is the fact that men are 4 times more likely to negotiate their salary than women are. This demonstrates further how women are doubting their work, and even their work’s monetary value.

In another article, it is suggests that women are afraid of what’s called the Imposter Syndrome, which describes as “a mixture of anxiety and a persistent inability to recognize one’s own success, this syndrome can be crippling, destroying the careers and lives of its most chronic sufferers.” This can serious; if we let self-doubt overwhelm us to the point of jeopardizing our careers, then it’s apparent that we have a real problem to deal with.

Why share this with you? This is a topic that my team (all young females) felt was very prevalent with today’s young professional women. It's a real struggle for many. This data shows that you are not alone if you’re experiencing self-doubt in some way. It is normal. However, just because it’s normal, it doesn’t mean you have to continue to allow it to have a role in your life. We have a responsibility to ourselves to stop the self-doubt and choose to succeed. Now that you’ve recognized it, it’s time to move forward.

Imagine your life without or, at least, with less self-doubt. You’ll be unstoppable! You need to believe in yourself. I hope you will take this information and be encouraged to know you are not alone and decide to silence any self-doubt. Next time, when those negative thoughts pop up, I hope you will refer to the key principles I listed above to give you peace and encouragement to move forward.

Well, that’s all I have for now.


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