Harnessing The Power Of Self-Doubt

January 29, 2020

Worried sad man has many questions looking down
Emmanuel Feranmi

Have you ever felt like you're not enough? Have you ever felt like everyone is doing so much better and you're just stuck in a place? Or have you ever felt like you're a fraud and you'll soon be found out?

Well, if you have, you're not alone. Some of the biggest and most successful people have felt what you're feeling. In fact Charles Bukowski once said "Bad writers tend to have the self-confidence, while the good ones tend to have self-doubt.” So self-doubt isn't uncommon, and it doesn't mean that you're not enough.

In fact, one of the first things you should know about self-doubt is that it is normal, and it is really common. Another thing you should know about self-doubt is something that not a lot of people know, but is true. The truth is that self-doubt can work in your favor. Once you own it, there are no limits to what you can achieve by reflecting on your self-doubt and what it means for you.

Is Self-Esteem The Same As Self Doubt?

There is the tendency of people to conflate these two terms. After all, their meanings are closely related and when one is present, the other always finds a way.  It is true that low self-esteem often leads to self-doubt and self-doubt can lead to low self-esteem, but this doesn't mean that they are the same.

Self-doubt is more about questioning your decisions, not your abilities. Low self-esteem, however, is more about questioning your self worth and abilities.

For entrepreneurs who are just starting out, self-doubt can be a really big problem. Why? Following your dreams of being an entrepreneur may require that you quit your job and make some "crazy" sacrifices. Self-doubt ensures that you wouldn't know the best way to go about this, or whether to go about it at all.

The questioning phase can take an ungodly amount of time, and I've met people with great ideas who never took a decision because they simply didn't trust themselves to do the right thing. But I've also met people who used that time of questioning to polish their ideas over and over again. Because they weren't particularly sure of what they were doing, they took time to think through all the hazy parts of their ideas and made concrete decisions. In business, it is easy to be cocky If you think you have an amazing plan. However, a sprinkle of self doubt ensures that you're not cocky. It makes sure that you don't underestimate any aspect of your business and that you actually think things through.

Self-doubt makes you push yourself. Importantly, self-doubt is a price you pay for expansion. Every time you get a new idea, or get a new inspiration in how to execute a new task, self-doubt comes with it. The questions that self-doubt brings ensures that you are not carried away, and remain grounded in realities.

Why Should You Not Be Scared Of Self-doubt? I'll Give You Four Reasons

Before embracing the gospel of self-doubt, you need to ensure that your feeling of self-doubt doesn't degenerate into panic. As long as you manage self-doubt, you can use it as an hot air balloon to reach new heights.

You Won't Chase Shadows

The first problem of dreamers is that they tend to dream often. If you get ten ideas, only two or three will be viable. Self-doubt can help you find these two or three viable ideas. How? If you question your ideas extensively, you're bound to discover the weak ones and the strong ones. You'll discard the ones in need of discarding and chase the concrete ones, not shadows.

You'll Know If You Need Help

It is easy to be cocky, but self-doubt keeps you grounded. When something gets out of hand, self-doubt ensures that you're grounded enough to know that you need help.

You'll Consider Several Plans

Overconfidence can be our bane sometimes. But a healthy level of self-doubt means that you always have a backup plan. If you're not entirely sure with plan A, you'll have plan B. If you're not entirely sure of plan B, you'll have plan C and so forth. This ensures that you have different plans for different situations and will be able to follow them if the need arises.

You'll Simply Work Better

Doubts typically just make us rethink our plans and ideas over and over again. Looking at our plans over and over again, and never leaving it because we deem it perfect means that we are unlikely to skip details. Actively trying to find faults in our plans means that if there is one, we will be more than likely to find it.

Self-Doubt Is The New Self-Awareness

To be successful, we need to repeatedly test our limits. And testing our limits means knowing the extent of our capacity. This can be painful at times, as we all like to think we're super people.

But we aren't. More often that not, we come up with ideas that are not viable and plans that might not work. A sufficient level of doubt helps us to avoid the trap of overconfidence, and this leads to us being aware of our strengths, and most importantly, of our Limitations.

"At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people we will become.” says Leo Babauta, and he couldn't have been any closer to the truth.

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