Sort the self-doubt spiral
Most of us have doubts about ourselves fairly regularly - it is part of the human condition!
We question our identity, image, capabilities, purpose - you name it.
However, when these feelings start to take over and we feel like impostors in a world where everyone else has got it together (impostor syndrome to give it a name) - we are in danger of going into downward spirals. But what kind of spiral?
When you doubt yourself which self-doubt spiral do you fall down?
Do you increasingly:
- Conform or
Any one of these self-doubt responses will mess with your ability to be a confident, authentic and curious communicator - not a good thing to mess with if you want to engage with your team members and clients and make good stuff happen!
By the way - this is not just about spirals, it is also about viscious circles - very artistic!
“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” ~ William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
Let’s start with unwrapping ‘self-doubt’ - what are the symptoms and possible causes.
Self-doubt - causes
Here are a few culprits:
- Belief formed in younger years - that has become frozen
- A past 'failure/error' that had consequences - and the feeling has stayed with you
- Too much praise/not enough praise!
- Sensitivity about appearance/difference - something that you feel 'alienates' you in some way
- Gas lighting - someone at work/out of work who enjoys making you doubt your sanity.
Self-doubt - symptoms
This is where the spirals and circles come in.
Self-doubt Viscious Circle
Without necessarily even realising what is going on - you could find yourself going down any one of these spirals - and getting stuck in this viscous circle of feeling leading to action leading to response from others - leading to feelings etc etc
Self-doubt - knock-on effects
Now to your response - which spiral and viscious circle do you get dizzy in (not in a good way)?
Worth thinking about - and worth asking WHY when you feel it happening?
Withdraw - you will fail to take up opportunities - avoid people even.
Conform - you accept things which are not aligned with your values and beliefs.
and as a result of either of these behaviours - you become a pressure cooker - and we know what happens if you don't let the steam out slowing from a pressure cooker!
This is why I suggest that another effect of self-doubt is that you
Whilst this might be the less obvious response to self-doubt - I am living proof of the self-doubt/rebel spiral!
Here’s a self-disclosing story to illustrate what I mean.
It doesn’t show me in a good light - but hey - it was a long time ago (this is the advantage of being old!)
A short story
I was 23 years old and found myself randomly working in an estate agents in a suburb of Bournemouth. I was in the midst of personal chaos - but that is another story!
I enjoyed some aspects of the job - the nosy part of seeing inside houses and meeting people. However - I didn’t enjoy working with a control-freak assistant manager who did everything in his power to stop be doing the bits I enjoyed!
So there I am doing my Saturday shift - just me and him in the office. Needless to say he is doing all the fun stuff and I am sorting through index cards (olden days).
I can’t quite remember what the tipping point was - however there was one. What I do remember is shouting a lot and making a dramatic exit - slamming the door behind me. This was drama enough - but what really made for a full-on hollywood movie was the glass shattering and flying out of the door (nobody was harmed in the making of this tantrum).
Moral - never make dramatic slamming exits when the door is glass.
I believe that my true self was a capable young woman. I also know that my self-confidence was drowned in a mess of self-doubt as a result of …. well - let’s not go into my life story just now!
Instead of the strong part of me displaying itself in some clever conflict management and people skills - it blew up in one almighty act of rebellion! ‘That’s it - had enough - I’m leaving’ - slam.
Do not dismiss the ‘rebel’ response to self-doubt. It needs addressing just as much as the withdraw and conform spirals.
How to avoid the spirals and viscious circles?
- Spot the triggers
- Get rational about your emotions.
Actually - I am going to leave it at that - because once you stop and spot - you will enter a whole new world -- one where self-doubt will never completely disappear but will be called out for what it really is - a product of your own mind and therefore something you can take to task.
(NB: I am not dismissing it as a silly thing that is easy to sort - I absolutely know this is not the case. I also know that for some it goes a lot deeper and needs other interventions.)