“You can’t do that; you’re not good enough; you don’t deserve to be successful.” It’s the same old saying that repeats like a broken record player in my head. And it’s a negative thought stream that many people will have experienced at some point in their life.
But what can you do to stamp out these evil little words?
Over the course of the past year and a half, my quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 has also turned into a quest to prove that self-doubt isn’t going to get me down or hold me back from completing this and other adventures along the way. So the obvious question is: How the hell am I going to do that?
Well I’ve spent a lot of this year navel gazing and trying to understand the rollercoaster of thoughts and feelings that have streamed through my head. And the more I have analysed them the more I have become aware of their negativity – they aren’t just thoughts and feelings; they are ‘negative’ thoughts and feelings.
It might sound like common sense, but it’s actually quite a big deal. I mean, how often are you really aware that you’ve had a negative thought? How often do you put yourself down, dis your looks, call yourself stupid or an idiot? When it happens we don’t always realise it. I certainly didn’t.
And this is my point. Being aware of the self-doubt thoughts that are stopping me from achieving my goals is the first step to moving through the gnarly jungle of negativity that appears to block my way.
So I’ve been consciously trying to listen to my inner conversations to gauge how they are flowing. When a thought or a feeling pops up in relation to my quest – generally it seems to be: “What the F are you doing? Really? You really think you can do that?” – I am trying to stop the thought process, focus on the thought and be aware that it’s negative.
The more I’ve done this, I’ve found the more aware I have become of the negative thoughts, as and when they happen – which is sort of scary when I consider the sorts of thoughts I seem to have (seriously this girl has some hang-ups – sheesh). And slowly I think it’s starting to make me aware of the negative things I go on to verbalise and my physical responses.
This isn’t a cure and it’s certainly a work in progress.
I could frame this negatively – I could say I’m useless because I’m not getting over this fast enough – but being aware of this trap means I’m hopefully stopping some of these bad thoughts in their tracks. And that in itself is a good thought. Yay!
7 thoughts on “How to conquer self-doubt: Awareness”
You have stumbled upon a not very well know fact: that negativity becomes a habit, a comfort blanket that you retreat to. It developes into negative hyperbole and acquires capital letters and exclamation marks. (“What F are you doing?! Really?!! You Really think you can do That?!!!”) It stifles creativity and spontaneity. It extends past your own self negativity to others: “He ALWAYS drops his toast and honey crumbs on the floor and he NEVER cleans them up!!” Then relationships suffer.
Negativity is a way of not facing up to things you are scared of. You are right, it has to be nipped in the bud. While beliefs and feelings are valid in that they affect you very much, beliefs are not facts. Negativity is a belief but it is not a FACT. Part of dealing with negative feelings is to deal in FACTS.
When I am beset with negativity I write down the negative belief I have – to use your example: “I’m useless because I’m not getting over this fast enough.” Then I rewrite that as a positive sentence. So I could write: ‘This taking ages and I would like to get on top of it faster.’ The first sentence is a dead end. I am useless. End of story. The second sentence opens the door to some creative thinking and a positive outcome.
It is hard work, but I think you are really onto it.
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