A friend introduced me to Yoga with Adriene and I have been practicing yoga daily with her since the start of the year. This morning I did Yoga for Self-Doubt and it got me thinking how there are different paths into building self-confidence and taming self-doubt. Some are physical, some are mental and some are spiritual.
All of us have experienced self-doubt at one point or another and probably we all experience it more than we let on. Whether seemingly big or small circumstances, self-doubt can keep you from living a life of your own choosing. Sometimes you don’t even realize that self-doubt is what is making you uncomfortable. Other times self-doubt can create such great anxiety and be so overwhelming that we develop techniques to avoid rather than grapple with it.
Not surprising, avoidance never really helps with any emotion, including feelings of self-doubt. As the saying goes, the only way to the other side is through it, and that is applicable to self-doubt. And it is inevitable that things come up in life unexpectedly that might throw you into a bout of self-doubt. So the more you prepare in advance, so to speak, the better you will be able to deal with whatever you encounter. That’s where practice comes into play.
How does building a practice help? As I discussed in The Benefit Of Routine when you practice activities or behaviors often enough, they become automatic and something that you can easily draw upon when you are in a difficult situation. For instance, perhaps you are having self-doubt about negotiating a job offer or promotion. If you have been practicing building your self-confidence and understanding that your self-doubt is understandable but not insurmountable, you can draw upon your practice to calm yourself and get prepared before going into the negotiation. Perhaps your practice includes some movement, breathing and affirmations. (And don’t forget tactical methods like creating documentation of your accomplishments and skills that support your goal—in this case—the new job position.) You will be more adept at accessing your self-confidence boosting skills if you practice in times when you aren’t faced with overwhelming circumstances.
Creating a daily practice of self-supportive activities is a wonderful way to build your skills of dealing with self-doubt and anxiety. Here are some ideas to get you started. Create a plan that is customized to activities that you enjoy and then change them around if you find that some activities seem to work better for you than others. The goal again, isn’t to dance around the self-doubt. The goal is to notice the self-doubt, be curious about it, and practice different ways of exploring it with your body, mind and spirit.
Body: You might not have thought about this before, but most emotions can be located in your body. Where to do feel the sense of self-doubt in your body? Allow yourself to explore the sensations in your body. Engage in some breathing techniques, stretching or aerobic activities to allow your body to release tension. Dance or move and bring in some joy into your body. Practice yoga and other strength builders to explore feeling strong and capable.
Mind: I believe that you can create your own experience of life by aligning your thoughts with the outcomes that you desire. Visualization of positive outcomes and affirmations are wonderful approaches to practice first thing in the morning each day to remind yourself that you have tremendous mental power.
Spirit: Meditation and mindfulness techniques are very helpful for getting to know yourself and becoming aware of your mind-states. Practice recognizing your self-doubt when it arises and allow yourself to just be with that experience. Because, as with most every emotion, this too shall pass. With practice you will build less resistance and a stronger understanding that strong feelings are real but don’t have to keep you bound.
Finally, trust yourself. Trust that you are a capable human being, able to handle self-doubt when it arises. Undoubtedly you have many past difficult experiences and yet you are here today. Trust that you will continue to navigate difficult moments of self-doubt. Building practices to calm your self-doubt strengthens your capacity to engage with the world in a way that is true to you and supportive of your own personal path.