The demons of self-doubt come for all of us. Sometimes seemingly out of nowhere. Sometimes slowly over time. They creep into our consciousness and often freeze our best plans for living.
Maybe it was something that happened at work or in your personal life. If you are a lawyer, perhaps an unanticipated bad result. Or for others, a project, exam or another event that didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. Maybe it’s in your finances or romantic life.
Then the negative self-talk begins. “Am I good enough?” “Did I handle that situation the right way?” “Was I my best?” Or often, “Why does this keep happening to me?”
Doubt is often just fear masquerading under a different name.
Certainly, self-awareness and self-reflection are important attributes of emotional health. We need to be aware of and understand ourselves – our best attributes and those areas of our lives where we think we can improve.
However ruminating only on the areas where we feel discordant and unhappy, where we question ourselves and where we are afraid, will slowly cause us to doubt our own abilities. Self-examination becomes self-criticism, anxiety and, sadly for many, can become self-loathing and depression.
Watching someone you care about drift into that space – perhaps a friend or family member or a colleague at work – where they don’t feel they can do anything right, is painful.
That person may also be someone you know intimately – you.
So how do we move away from self-doubt, which can rob us of our ability to take action, to a place of positive action and belief in ourselves?
The first step is to deliberately change our focus each day, even for a short period of time. We have to interrupt the negative script running in our mind.
Look, no matter how bad things seem, there is always something that’s going right. It may be something small, but it’s there. And once you identify that, you will see the path to other things that are going well.
Taking even five minutes daily to reframe and refocus causes our mind to pay attention, not to what’s going wrong, but to what’s going right.
And that allows us to contextualize the inevitable bumps of life as part of living, rather than to see them in catastrophic terms and bigger than they are.
We all have self-doubt. Life is hard. Sometimes it’s very hard.
But five short minutes to reframe and reset, to force our mind to refocus on what we do well, on what’s going right, no matter how small it may seem, is one key to moving through those times when the demons come, and they come for all of us.
If you are battling the demons, this week, join me in taking just five minutes to reset and reframe. Let’s make a list of what is going well. Write those things down. And think about how those small things make you feel. How it feels to know that there are those glimmers of good.
After five minutes you will want more. And, importantly, you will have created a new, positive time and space just for you. And that in and of itself is a good thing in life.