We all go there - some of us more than others. Self doubt is one of humanity’s biggest handbrakes, holding back the vitality and success of so many beautiful intentions. To have an ego, or sense of ‘I-ness’, is to have an image and a sense of separation, and for nearly everyone self-criticism rears its head at some point in their lives.
1. Identify your blockage
Perhaps doubt is more commonly related to a certain area of your life - for example, you feel confident in your career, but when it comes to relationships, your wobbly self-worth leads you to ride the struggle bus over and over again. Perhaps you criticize the way you look, or question your ability to express your talent. Perhaps you simply find it hard to make decisions in general. Once you’ve identified your triggers, notice the thought patterns that signal a diving into this critical place. There may be a series of thoughts that spiral downwards. There may be physical sensations associated with a feeling of shame, such as heat in the face, tightness in the chest or a beating heart. You may find yourself reacting with certain behaviors, such as defensiveness, reclusiveness, or addictive patterns.
Ask yourself: What are my biggest challenges to being empowered? Allow your brainstorm to reveal the patterns and themes of your self doubt. It may come in the shape of identifying the moment or event that blocked you (“ever since my teacher told me I was bad at art, I’ve never felt able to draw”) or recognizing a repetitive pattern (“each time I come up with a new idea, the fear of failure creeps in and ruins it”). Once you’ve identified your main themes, the awareness will allow you to spot it when it arises… and you are able to come up with a direct solution to reforming those mental patterns.
Do you ever find yourself shrinking away from what you really want to say, or holding yourself back from living out an idea? Do you change masks or personalities depending on the people you are around? Do you put off taking that next step until you do more, be more, take that next course or lose that next five pounds? Showing up and being willing to be fully seen, as we are, is a basic fear that can lie hidden in our subconscious and cause us to shape-shift, cover up, avoid or simply hide who we truly are. It asks us to allow vulnerability - a state we are often too scared to let ourselves into. Every time we hold back, we are subtly telling ourselves that the real ‘us’ is not good enough for the situation we are in.
True success lies in a relentless self-belief, an inner fire that does not waste time and energy worrying about what people think but rather radiates from a place of inner contentment, trusting that oneself and one’s message is valuable and unique. When self doubt hits, practice showing your whole self and erasing all questioning or worry about what others think. Universal popularity doesn’t exist. If you wait to get to a point where everything is perfect before you reveal it, it will remain hidden forever.
Where does your power lie? What have you done that’s worked? What makes you shine? Often, a state of self-doubt leads us to forget the magic that is inside us. Taking time to write down the aspects of ourselves that we are grateful for can remind us of the powerful being that we are.
Wake up with a gratitude list every morning to remind yourself of the blessings that surround you. Write a letter of thanks to yourself, and sign it “and I forgive you for everything else,” then read it to yourself in a meaningful space. Create affirmations to help you realize what you already have, and repeat them. The most important thing here is to love yourself, for when you are your best friend, you bloom.
4. Love your Imperfections
Our society is inherently geared towards perfectionism - the idea that presenting a false, perfect self to the world is a sign of success and strength. If I look perfect, act perfect, know everything about what I am talking about, I will be accepted and loved. Sound familiar? Wonder why life feels empty and unfulfilling?
When you accept yourself and allow your imperfections to co-exist with your strengths, you become “real” in the view of the world. The work of social researcher Brene Brown goes into depth about the need for full acceptance of ourselves - ultimately leading to the recognition that we are worthy of love and belonging - no matter what.
“When we can let go of what other people think and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness—the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging.”
-- Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
We all have our tools to shift the energy of doubt and fear. Half the problem of a low sense of worthiness is in maintaining a state of equilibrium. We tend to get stuck in spirals of emotion that, unchecked, can take us down a road to smallness. Catch the pattern as it is happening however, and it is more than possible to reform the habit.
To do this, make a list of all the things that help you to reset. It could be having a hot shower, going to a yoga class, running, reading a book, seeing a friend, meditation, or your favorite hobby. It could be connected to gratitude or recognition, and it could come in the form of a systematic approach to your mental habits. Whatever the tools are, use them. Don’t let your vibration continue to descend - a change of state or space is essential to keep the energy moving through and away.
6. Try something new
The incredible progress of humankind is largely down to our awe-dropping abilities to create. We thrive when we are able to adapt and be resourceful to what is in front of us in the moment. To create is to make something new, and with something new often comes doubt or even fear.
Creativity doesn’t need to mean art or music. It could come in the form of a new walk to work, a new system for your work, or a project or venture started from the heart. You could sign up for a class and educate yourself on something you love, or while away an afternoon with art, music or free writing. How often are you in a state of creativity? How much of your day is routine? Break out of the comfort zone, for it is there that the magic resides.
Being grounded is key to keeping our center, especially when the mind is on the run. Remember that thoughts of self-doubt arise in the ego-mind, which is based on experience, habit, social conditioning and day to day emotion. It changes all the time. Placing our trust in the mind is like building a house in the sand… the tides of time will always roll over what seems so real in the moment.
When the mind takes over, come back to the breath. Take a break from whatever you are doing that is causing the destructive thoughts, go out to nature, come back to your practice, and this moment. From the perspective of Now, we are only infinite. We are perfectly imperfect manifestations of Divine Energy. Come to oneness and remember… you are whole, beautiful and an essential piece of the oneness we all exist in.
8. See your highest Self
What would life look like if you were living at your full potential? What would it feel like to be free of doubt, shame and fear? How would it feel to live a life where you knew… just knew what it felt like to shine everywhere you went?
Close your eyes and sit quietly, listening to your breath. Ask yourself these questions and allow an image to filter down through your consciousness. This is your highest Self, the expression of you that is at its most evolved existence. Fix the image in your mind, a vision of You, shining, expansive and calm. Call on this image in times of doubt and let the true You emerge through the emotions.
Jiya is passionate about helping others and herself find empowerment, particularly through creative expression, identifying challenges and fulfilling their full potential. A founder of international organization Kula Collective, Jiya will be offering an empowerment-based retreat in January on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.