How To Overcome Self Doubt

Girl relaxing in a wheat-field.

I spoke to a business owner the other day that offers a service in complementary health therapy.

She‘s so passionate about what she does and how she helps her clients and she really knows her stuff.

I was fascinated listening to her talk about the body, energy levels, pollutants and toxins we’re surrounded by, how we unknowingly create blockages within and the innovative way she treats pain and heals her clients.

I said to her “wow, more people need to know about this, and you!” and asked how she was marketing herself, which was mostly through networking. I talked to her about the power of social media, creating written content, video content and talked to her about ways in which she could get more visible to share her message.

She immediately said “I couldn’t do that”. Then she shared with me her worry that people would criticise her – the way she looked, what she said, what she was promoting – she talked about industry ‘experts’ that would look down on her and finally said that she didn’t have the confidence to do anything like that.

When we started talking more about confidence, she then said she was too busy and the real reason was that she just didn’t have the time. She was fully booked and didn’t have the capacity for new clients.

This is how we mask our insecurities and self-doubt, with excuses.

They won’t look like excuses to you – they’ll look totally and utterly real and compelling and if anyone calls you out on them, you’ll most likely get offended.

But in fact, excuses are mostly just a shield, that protects a made-up idea that something bad will happen to us if we put ourselves ‘out there’, or that we’re not good enough.

Self-doubt is a common action killer when it comes to building your own business. These are some of my own excuses I’ve used in the past to stop me from self promoting and growing my business:

• I need a website first or FB business page;

• I need to have business cards/letterhead/logo design/marketing collateral sorted

• I need to have a niche

• I need to have my invoicing system set up

I see these toxic weeds in many conversations I have with business owners – I can spot them a mile off – mostly because I’ve used them all! They prevent us from playing big and building our businesses efficiently, effectively and joyfully. But all weeds can be dealt with and here’s my 3 step process for Overcoming the Excuse Trap, created from self doubt.

1. Awareness is the first step. Getting honest with yourself, recognising the excuse and seeing it for what it really is. A self-protection mechanism for a thought construct that’s not serving you.

2. Time to get real with yourself. What is the dominant thought that is the reason for the excuse? What are you telling yourself? (Spoiler alert: it’s usually something negative like – ‘who do you think you are’, or ‘what if I fail’, or ‘what if I make a fool of myself/let others down’). Once you’ve identified the thought, write it down.

There’s a psychological benefit to getting thoughts out of your head and on to paper.

For a start, we have 40-60,000 thoughts a day – that makes for a very busy mind. So writing thoughts down, alleviates the mental ‘thought baggage’ and when your mind is clear and settled, it’s more likely fresh ideas, insights and realisations can ‘pop up’ for you.

Additionally, with your thought written down for you to see, you can start to logically assess the validity of that thought.

3. Once your thought is out on paper, look at what you’ve written down and ask yourself, ‘is this true’?

For a thought to be ‘true’, it needs to be accurate without variation every time. Therefore, you want to look for examples where you have proved that thought wrong…just once, is all you need, to know that the thought is not true or accurate.

It’s not fact. For example, if the thought is, ‘I’m not good enough to do that’, look to examples of where you have done it before.

If as a coach, you’re looking to get your first client, so you haven’t necessarily had a paid client yet, look to the coaching conversations you’ve had in the past that have helped others. Look to the many successes you’ve had leading up to the decision to become a coach. They’re there. There’s always examples of your successes.

William James – known as the Father of American psychology, said “If you wish to upset the law that all crows are black, you mustn’t seek to show that no crows are; it is enough if you prove one single crow to be white.”

What he meant there was you only need one example of when ‘you’ve been good enough’, to disprove the negative thought and put it to bed in your mind forever.

Once you’ve been through that process, then the very next thing you need to do is take an action toward the goal you’re wanting to achieve.

For example, with the business owner I had the discussion with, she is now doing regular Facebook Lives after we went through this process together. She was nervous, of course but after the first one was out the way, she realised it wasn’t as bad as she’d imagined!

The number 1 thing that stops us from taking action most of the time, is our thinking and action always speaks louder than thoughts!

About The Author:

Claire Sewell, owner of SwellCoach, based in London, helps female business owners overcome self-doubt, so they can sell with certainty and build their business and income more boldly and brilliantly. She’s a Kiwi, a foodie and a comedy buff.

For questions or comments you can DM her on LinkedIn, or email her:

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