“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” – Honore de Balzac
We aren’t born into this world doubting ourselves. We learn to do it. Often in childhood. And it begins with a single planted seed. That seed is often one incidence that makes us feel ‘less than’ or not good enough.
And with that seed, the inner doubt begins to sprout.
And unless that doubt is tended to, it will continue to sprout into a full-fledged weed. A weed of doubt that controls how we show up in this world. Even years later.
My first memory of a planted seed was when I was about seven or eight. I was standing with my classmates in gym class. It was a hockey day. Possibly my least favorite sport next to dodgeball. There were two appointed captains. And they had the job of picking their teams.
I stood in that line-up with my heart racing.
My only thought was – “Please don’t let me be last.”
The line continued to get shorter, and I was still standing there. I remember wanting to run out of the gym and be anywhere but there.
I looked over, and the only two left were myself and one other student named Liza. I could feel the butterflies going wild in my stomach. I then heard my name called. I let out a quiet sigh of relief. I felt my heart slow as I began to walk towards the team. I was about a quarter of the way there when the captain said, “Not you; I said, Liza.”
And there it was, I was the last pick.
It was at that moment I felt my self-worth crumble.
To be honest, I doubt that was the first and last time I experienced being the last pick, but for some particular reason, it was this time that stuck in my mind for years to come.
You see as a child we can’t process these incidences as we can as an adult.
As an adult, we can rationalize and say…
“I was picked last because hockey isn’t a strength of mine. However, I have other strengths where I’m sure I would be the frontrunner.”
But as a child, we internalize this as,
“I’m not good enough.” “I’m less than everyone else.” “I’m not worthy.”
And even years later, when we think we’ve moved on from that one incidence. Those same thoughts of not being good enough are playing in the background. In our subconscious calling the shots. Making us doubt our abilities. And clouding our judgment of what we are capable of.
These ‘seed planting’ incidences can come in many forms.
And it really doesn’t matter how insignificant it may seem to others. Even something as brief as a comment made by a parent, teacher or friend can plant a seed that sticks with us for years.
How to Understand the Doubt that’s Holding You Back
Throughout my childhood and adolescents, there were multiple seeds of doubt planted. By my late teens, early twenties I had an overgrowth of weeds. I had never tended to the doubts, and now they had taken over.
They were calling the shots in my life. They were paralyzing me from going after what I wanted.
By my early twenties, I realized I had the internal dialogue of someone who felt ‘less than’. This became apparent when I looked at friends and peers going off to university and figured that wasn’t an option for me.
But why wasn’t it? Well, the only reason it wasn’t an option was that I was telling myself it wasn’t. I had doubted myself so long that I didn’t even question the doubts. I just took them as a matter of fact.
It wasn’t until my mid-twenties after the birth of my daughter that I started to question those doubts. Something had switched inside me. I guess I figured if I could grow a child inside me and give birth to her, then I could do just about anything.
I worked on changing the internal dialogue and started to believe in my capabilities. I went to college and then university and graduated both with honors. I was the same person I was years ago. The only difference was the weeds of doubt had now been tamed, and the real me had a chance to blossom.
Four Ways To Release The Doubts Holding You Back
Ask Yourself Open-Ended Questions When we doubt ourselves, it’s usually because we’ve been thinking the same limiting thought over and over. It’s easy to think the same thought without ever questioning it.But when we do question it, this allows our mind to come up with reasons why those doubts aren’t true.Questions such as: How am I already an expert at this?Why am I capable of this? How can I make this happen? Asking the right questions will unlock the answers already within you. I recommend grabbing your favorite pen and journal and writing out at least five to ten answers to your questions.
Prove to yourself why you are capable.
2. Look At Past Accomplishments For Proof
It’s quite easy to think you’re not capable of something you’ve never done before. A powerful way to overcome this form of doubt is to look at past accomplishments.
What have you accomplished in your life that you are proud of? If you are alive right now and reading this, then you have accomplished things in your life. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is. If you’ve accomplished one thing, you can accomplish more.
The people involved in planting the seed are often completely oblivious to the effect it had on you. Being able to forgive them and forgive yourself is not only healing but also an effective method to let go of the ‘possibly painful’ emotions wrapped up in past incident.
4. Take action
If not tended to, doubt can consume us. It can paralyze us from taking the actions needed to achieve the goals we desire.Taking action and proving to yourself you can do it, is one of the fastest ways to release those doubts for good. This may require you to put on your confidence pants and get to work. But it will be well worth it when it’s you who is calling the shots and not the doubt.
It’s important to understand that the seeds of many of our doubts are
decades old. And even if they’re full-fledged weeds now, we don’t have to hold on to them any longer. They can always be dug up and replaced with new seeds. Seeds of confidence. Seeds of faith. Seeds of love.