Breaking the cycle of Self-doubt

Delyse Ledgard, RCCTrauma

anger, self-doubt

Are you paralyzed by self-doubt?

Self-doubt can become a habit that prevents us from making decisions, knowing our desires, or connecting with our experiences. This post addresses the impact of self-doubt and ways you can begin to reduce doubt around making decisions.

This seems to be a common struggle for so many people 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 being certain about everything might reflect a defence 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, we can 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 commit to a conclusion.

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

How this habit of self-doubt can take us over.

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

The more we question the more we are unsure and nothing seems ‘right’.  We start to spiral obsessively searching for the ‘right’ answer, often becoming more confused the more we think about it or try and ‘rationalize’ our 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.

How asking for opinions doesn’t help.

When we keep asking others for the ‘answers’ to make decisions and actions, this can increase our self-doubt. Especially if we get competing opinions. People have lots of different perspectives that are meaningful to them. It is easy to feel that this is not quite right because there may be a part of you that senses it doesn’t fit for you. However, rather than listen to what feels right for us our self-doubt will often question this.

More confusion and self-doubt!  And so goes the cycle of self-doubt.

So how do move out of the self-doubt cycle?

  • 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 only tell you if they think 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