How far will you let self-doubt derail you?

At some point in our careers we have all experienced self-doubt and unmet expectations. For example:

  • My boss didn't praise me after my presentation.
  • Why didn't I speak up at the meeting?
  • Should I have said something different to my co-worker? Is he/she mad at me?
  • Are my quarterly work objectives unreasonable? Should I speak to my boss about them?
  • Did I choose the right program of study?
  • Should I have done that?

Self-doubt and unmet expectations elicit a wide range of emotional responses. Maybe you've swept your thoughts and feelings under a rug or you are at the point of analysis-paralysis. I try to encourage you not to judge yourself no matter where you are on this spectrum of doubt. I know this is easier said than done since we tend to be our own worst critics. I know this all too well. In some situations I have very high expectations of myself. Those around me know that I'll beat myself down, drag myself in the mud, pick myself up and then drag myself in the mud again until I snap out it. When this happens, I am emotionally drained. What I have realized is how my negative thought patterns have cost me unnecessary time, energy, and stress. Thankfully, with the support of my family and friends I have learned to get out of my own way and trust myself more.    

Chew on the following steps to help you regulate your thoughts:

  1. Describe your emotions.
  2. Identify what is triggering your emotions and behaviours.
  3. Outline the worst case scenario and put things into perspective. How will this matter tomorrow, a month, six months, or one year from today?
  4. Determine what you have learned. What insights have you gained?
  5. Decide how you'll move forward in a positive and productive manner. 

Try to give yourself time to properly reflect. Writing down my thoughts and seeing it on paper has really helped me to put things into perspective. I also have reminders of what my strengths are in my agenda. These positive notes act as great reminders to help neutralize my negative thoughts.

It is inevitable that we will continue to experience some degree of self-doubt and unmet expectations in the future. How we manage our reactions and what we learn from each experience is what matters. I am a strong believer that there are always insights to be learned from each moment, which will help you grow and embrace your next encounter with renewed confidence. 

ACTION: Set aside time (any amount to start) to reflect, recognize, and acknowledge your emotions and triggers by writing them down. This will help you to identify your thought patterns, refine THEM, and course correct to move forward.