Breaking the cycle of Self-doubt

Delyse Ledgard, RCCTrauma

anger, self-doubt

Are you often paralyzed by self-doubt?

This seems to be a common struggle for so many people I work with, stifling their ability to make decisions and pursue goals in their lives.

Being uncertain or having doubts is normal and healthy.  Life is full of mystery and impermanence – it would be unrealistic to not have doubt.  Some would say that to be certain about everything might reflect a defense against insecurity and fear of loss of control.   When we doubt ourselves, we keep questioning and examining our perceptions and assumptions.  This is a good thing as we strive to grow and improve our lives.

However, I want to talk about those times we become paralyzed by self-doubt.  When we feel mired in questioning our actions, motivations, and belief that there is a ‘right’ action to take.  If only we could find out what it is.  However, we can’t seem to trust ourselves to come to a conclusion.

We get ourselves into a double bind that can become a habit.

Goes like this …

I want to know what I want to do or express an opinion, make a request, etc.  I question every possibility (don’t have enough information, don’t know whether it is right, acceptable, or guarantees me a certain outcome).

The more I question the more I am unsure and nothing seems ‘right’.  I spiral into obsessively searching for the ‘right’ answer, often becoming more confused the more I think about it or try and ‘rationalize’ my way out of it.

If I can’t trust myself, then it stands to reason that I need someone else to tell me what to do.  I ask friends and perceived experts for the direction I need.

Here’s the crux of it.

The more you end up asking others for the ‘answers’ to your decisions and actions the more you are going to doubt yourself This is because it is like asking someone in Hungary to tell you what it is like in Vancouver.  You are going to get an answer that tells you what it is like in Hungary !!

This will likely be at odds with you and increase the disconnection between you and your actions.  More confusion and self-doubt!  And so goes the cycle of self-doubt.

So how do we get out of this?

  • If you need information.  Limit yourself to a couple of expert sources.  Try to resist asking all your friends for opinions.
  • Use friends you know you can trust to support you no matter what you choose, or what your opinion is. Use them to validate you and to tell you if you are way off base with something.  AND THAT IS ALL.
  • Learn what your patterns are and how you keep in this cycle.  When we know what our habits are that keep us stuck we can start to learn different ones.
  • Listen to your body.  It is the best indicator of what you are comfortable with or not.  Get to know those signals and sensations in response to what you like and don’t like.  The answers to what is right for us more often reside in our bodies, not in our minds.
  • Understand there are no right answers.
  • Take risks to make mistakes – they are great teachers.  I know it is scary!
  • It takes practice, so practice breaking these habits.
  • Work through this internal struggle with the support of a therapist