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Jude's avatar

How do you talk yourself out of "self-doubt"?

Asked by Jude (32134points) February 3rd, 2011

I have had this problem for years. When I decide to tackle something, be it school or a new job, I am all gun-ho at the beginning; very positive before I dig into it, but, fail to follow through.

I doubt my abilities.

The crazy thing is, once I have actually tackled things, I do really, really well.

How do I get over the hump of self-doubt?

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31 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Fake it til you make it, and, bend to the curve.
It takes a good 2–3 months to become comfortable and proficiant for most people in a new situation or profession.

Look at it as a diet. If you need to lose 20 lbs. you are not going to see big results for the first month or so.

Be alert to self sabbotage, look at your inner motives, feelings, are you afraid of success deep down?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Walk up to a mirror, look into your eyes, and say“I can kick ass”. Because you can. I have faith in you.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Coloma & @Adirondackwannabe are exactly right!
Just doooo it! :)
Punching bags are a good thing for those less than graceful monents XD

gorgeousgal3's avatar

It is what it is. I will be fine and things will turn out for the best.

Summum's avatar

You have view of yourself that says that you will not finish it. Where did that come from? That view is causing you to react to everything like you will not finish it. Let it be and create a new way of doing things with a view that you do finish things.

Jude's avatar

I am thinking about changing careers. I would love to be an RN. Here, you have to go for your B. Sc (bachelor of science), which I have no doubt that I’ll do fine. I already have my BA and B. ED (bachelor of education). I do well with kids (teach), but, am wondering how I would handle nursing.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Jude I don’t see you having any trouble with the education requirements or the empathy with patients, bedside manner etc. What about the rest of the job?

Jude's avatar

I can handle the squeamish and am definitely hardworking (driven). Yes, to empathy and compassion.

Silly doubt.

tranquilsea's avatar

I take small steps and just do it no matter what I feel at any particular moment. I also know that negative self-talk is a remnant from my childhood that wasn’t applicable then and certainly isn’t applicable now.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Some doubt is healthy. It’s what keeps us from venturing into the animal enclosures at the zoo or from doing stupid things. Just balance it out with a little confidence.

wundayatta's avatar

There are a hundred different kinds of nursing jobs. You know you’ll do well in school. So you know you’ll be able to get one of those jobs. Health care is an expanding sector of the economy in the US. Lots of jobs are opening. There aren’t even enough nurses so we have to import them from other countries. You’ll probably be hired before you even finish school. There are a lot of things to worry about, but this isn’t one of them.

marinelife's avatar

If you really want to tackle the problem of self-doubt, you have to slow down and hear your inner dialogue. A good resource for doing that is the book Self Parenting bu Dr. Jon Pollard.

Once you are aware of your inner dialogue, you can begin to change it with affirmations. Carefully crafted to be positive, written down and repeated daily aloud (very important).

Jude's avatar

“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.” – Kahlil Gibran

thorninmud's avatar

The apprehension and all of that playing out of negative hypotheticals that goes on in the head is a normal function of the brain, the product of millions of years of adaptation. It’s your brain trying to keep you out of trouble by making sure you consider all the awful things that could happen.

As important as that input is, if it’s given disproportionate weight as we make our way in the world, it condemns us to a life of timid half-measures and mediocrity. I find it helpful to treat this inner voice of apprehension as if it were the voice of an overprotective mother trying to discourage me from living the bold life that I really want to live. Seeing it that way rouses my feelings of rebellion against that over-weaning voice of caution. I don’t want my life to be dictated by that stultifying “safeness”, dammit!

Remember all those times you tuned your parents out when they offered all that well-meaning but unwanted advice? You knew that there was a chance they were right, but you had a right to live a vibrant and daring life, even if it meant making the occasional mistake. Well, you can take the same stance toward that voice of self-doubt.

cockswain's avatar

Basically tell myself I should be ashamed of my fear and doubt, and it usually just goes away.

This is something a lot of guys call “sacking up.”

Jude's avatar

Just looking back at my university marks. I kicked ass in Bio and Chem.

Austinlad's avatar

I know that you-can’t-do-it voice in my head very, very well. These days, I just tell it FU and plunge ahead. It takes practice, though.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I do that too but then I remember that I always do this to myself and that I always end up feeling better just a bit later and that I’ve been here before and I can make it again. Every time I enter a new degree program, I think ‘oh my gosh, everyone is so much more experienced, so smart, etc’ but within weeks, I realize I’m in the right place, nobody is better than me and I’m doing okay.

Ron_C's avatar

I doubt that you can. You can, however, do a couple things that you know that you do well. The feeling of accomplishment, for me, is usually enough to overcome the self doubt.

Talking to youself won’t help.

tinyfaery's avatar

If you truly are a self-doubter then just doubt your doubt. ;)

You and I are very similar in this respect. I, too, am embarking on a new phase of my life and I very apprehensive about it. I just take one day at a time. You can do it!

Jude's avatar

@psychocandy I think that you and I are a lot alike in many ways.

Thanks!

Ladymia69's avatar

Press the ignore button on the doubt and dive in!

Bellatrix's avatar

Jude – that is called being human. I think we all have that nagging little voice that tells us “you are so shit at this” and the like. I find myself going over things I have said in meetings or the like and thinking “oh god – why did I say that?... they will think…” Truth is I suspect most people are so busy dealing with their own self doubt they don’t give much a shit that I stuffed up. However – one of the strategies I do have for dealing with that evil – self doubting voice is to ask myself – will anyone remember I said/did this in a year or even a month or even a week? I ask myself would I remember if it was someone else? In 99.99999 cases the answer is no. We are all mostly pretty self-absorbed so what seems like a terrible thing we have done that everyone noticed – has often passed without anyone really giving a jot.

As to performance anxiety – can I do this? Am I clever enough? I see mature aged students regularly at the beginning of their degree and they say “I don’t think I am clever enough to do this” and the like. My philosophy is we are all learners on this beautiful green planet. Allow yourself a few stuff ups. That’s how we learn. Never let those stuff-ups stop you from trying though. With my students I remind them that when they started in their first job – or parenting their first child – or their first day at school – they didn’t know the rules – the procedures or pretty much anything about what they were doing. They learned though. Step by step they learned. And so will we as we try to do new or challenging things. We only fail when we throw in the towel.

Jude's avatar

“We only fail when we throw in the towel.”

Yes.

everephebe's avatar

Humbly I offer you these two quotes:

“Write drunk; edit sober.” ~Ernest Hemingway

Be Drunk
by Charles Baudelaire
translated by Louis Simpson

You have to be always drunk. That’s all there is to it—it’s the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.

But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.

And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: “It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”

Jude's avatar

Yeah, continuously be drunk and then accidentally stab somebody in the eye while I’m trying to put an IV in. ;-)

everephebe's avatar

Jude dude, ya missed the point, something you don’t want to do with an IV in hand. ;D

Jude's avatar

@everephebe I’m having some brew.. I’m a little slow on the uptake ce soir.

everephebe's avatar

“But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.”

What I mean and indeed what I think Baudelaire means, is be full and filled with something. Be alive without you inhibitions. When I quoted those two I didn’t mean to suggest that you imbibe your way through life, just that you take it on head first as if you were drunk. Boldly, amused, unafraid. We must do what we feel passionate about, and be recklessly passionate. Love what you do, not how well you do it. Don’t doubt yourself or your work. Express your love for what you are doing, not your feelings about the quality of work you are doing. To become good at anything it takes practice.

Well stab at it. You are going to fail plenty, but don’t fail to learn from your failures. Failing is great, so long as you learn.

Don’t ever be afraid to fail. The universe is just too damn big, for you to make any deal of your own failures. Learn, live, move on.

That feeling of doubt just shows you how much thought and care you’re putting into something. Put it to work, let your doubts challenge you to succeed. And you will.

Jude's avatar

Well said. Thank-you.

Jeruba's avatar

I usually just plow ahead in spite of it. I can’t stop the doubts, and they can’t stop me. I just try not to let them show. And once I’m in, doing it (whatever it is), that generally takes care of them.

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