Is Self-Doubt Holding You Back?
I’m pretty hard on myself sometimes, but I think we all are. I recently had the opportunity to be the speaker at my networking group and decided upon this as my topic. I knew I was in need of a pep-talk and knew some others could too.
We are our toughest critics. Especially when owning a business, our self-criticism increases 10-fold. If something goes wrong, it’s all on you. It’s hard not to be hard on yourself!
While sometimes self-criticism is constructive, most often it’s holding us back. Our inner doubts and negative self-talk are not benefiting us in any way.
You might be surprised by how much your negative thoughts are affecting you. You might be more surprised when you consider how much more you could achieve just by being a little nicer to yourself.
Cut Yourself Some Slack!
While researching for my presentation/pep talk, I found the following pointers in an article on healthyplace.com – “Stop Being Too Hard on Yourself” by Fay Agathangelou1. This list hits all the points made in other articles on the topic, but I love how Agathangelou categorized the principals. These are the main points from the articles with my own addendums on each.
HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
We are only human. Yes, that includes you. No one is exempt from flaws, failures, or mistakes. We are all unique, and that’s a good thing! If you stay positive, stay committed, and have a plan to meet a realistic goal, you will get there. Maybe not as quickly as you’d like, but you will get there!
LOOK FOR THE LESSON IN EVERYTHING
Whether you’ve received criticism, failed in some way or made a major mistake, learn something from it and move on. The greatest lessons in life are learned by mistakes!
“It’s undeniable that mistakes reveal new insights and aha! moments that success can never match.” – Susie Moore2
CHALLENGE YOUR INNER CRITIC
The way you think of yourself and talk to yourself affects you more than what anyone else can think or say. From this article, “negative thoughts distort your reality. There’s nothing to be gained from criticising yourself over and over again. Stop dwelling on your mistakes. It’s a waste of energy, it’s disempowering and it will keep you stuck. Challenge the negativity and focus your energy on moving forward.”1
Whether or not something specific has happened that’s got you down, we can all benefit from focusing more on the positive things in life. Throughout my research, I came across a few good suggestions.
- Celebrate the small wins! Make a “Done List” instead of just a “To Do List”. Being able to see that you are accomplishing things is motivating. This includes the small day-to-day things, like having sent an email to a prospect or reading a good article. Seeing your progress each day reminds you of your successes and prevents you from feeling discouraged.3
- Practice gratitude. Start a gratitude list or journal, write letters of gratitude to those who’ve inspired you, and just take time to stop and smell the roses. Recognizing the positives and being grateful helps you “check yourself” and remember what really matters most.
- Make a vision board or set aside time to envision your future as you’d like to see it. Some strongly believe that this practice helps to bring your vision to life. Whether it’s some kind of cosmic energy or just priming your subconscious, no one knows. Whatever it is, there have been amazing success stories using future visualization. Hey, it certainly can’t hurt!
PUT IT IN PERSPECTIVE
Is your life or mistake really as catastrophic as you think, and will it matter in, say, 10 years from now? It can help to talk to someone you trust.1
Use affirmations. For example “I am not perfect but I am learning and growing.” or “I did my best with what I knew at the time.”1
TREAT YOURSELF AS A BEST FRIEND
Why should we be any nicer to people we love than we are to ourselves? We shouldn’t be! We should be nicer to ourselves than anyone. You might even need to ask yourself sometimes “what would I tell my best friend right now?” and then tell it to yourself!
There’s more to being a “good friend” than just talking though. Treating yourself like someone you love means taking care of yourself from the inside out. Go to the doctor at least every year or two and get checked for vitamin deficiencies (which are way more common than you’d think). I started eating much healthier after I had a child because I was suddenly buying more nutritious food out of love and concern for my son. Food is the fuel your brain and body runs on. So yes, you too need to eat your veggies before you get up from the table!
If you’re a business owner, you’re probably already a pretty “mentally strong” person, we just need to be reminded sometimes. Another article I highly recommend reading is “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” by Amy Morin. This was the empowerment-icing on the cake for me. It called out that little bad voice in my head and slapped it right across the face.
The article was originally posted on Lifehacks and went viral. It was shared by Inc, Forbes, Psychology Today, and every news site, gaining so much popularity that Morin went on to author a best selling book under the same name.
The life experiences and tragedies Amy Morin endured before writing this piece demonstrates the mental fortitude that can be achieved by anyone, no matter your circumstances. Here’s an article on Amy Morin from the Washington Post that tells her story and what drove her to write this piece.
- “Stop Being Too Hard on Yourself”, Fay Agathangelou, https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2015/08/stop-being-too-hard-on-yourself/
- “The 6 Best Things About Making a Mistake”, Susie Moore,
- “Entrepreneurs, Here’s Why It’s Time to Stop Being so Hard on Yourself”, Tiffany Yu, http://fortune.com/2015/12/29/entrepreneurs-success-startup/
- “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do”, Amy Morin, https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/13-things-mentally-strong-people-dont.html