Wow, self doubt is a powerful thing. It can eat up your free time and spoil your accomplishments. It’s the internal troll (in both the traditional and colloquial sense) that lives under your mental bridge.
I wonder what it’s like to be a person without it; who doesn’t have a voice saying “you can’t do it” and “you know nothing”, constantly. A person like that would have so many advantages.
Millennials get a bad name for being gratuitously told we are special by everyone: our parents, teachers, coaches (participation trophies for all!). Why then, are so many of us suffering from pointless feelings of anxiety, self-doubt and imposter syndrome?
Recently, I talked to a good friend who practices alternative therapies like reiki and healing touch. I said that I was having trouble keeping my negative self-talk from overwhelming me, lately. She explained to me that people who have developed coping mechanisms in their early lives to deal with anxiety and mental health issues often find those mechanisms lose effectiveness by their early thirties.
Excusez-moi? Are you telling me my brain is getting tricksier over time in its self-sabotaging mission to make me feel bad about myself? Not cool.
It got me thinking about the inverse of negative self-talk: positive affirmations. Not the annoying kind, but the scientifically proven, sports psychology kind. Yes, I took sports psychology as an elective in undergrad, because it was offered online and I could do it in my pajamas. Bizarrely, what I learned in that course has come back to me now as a lifeline for my recent self-doubt.
Basically, what you say to yourself, both internally and aloud, has been shown to impact your performance. I’m not saying you can talk yourself into the NBA (also not saying you can’t, you do you, man!), but flipping the script into positives instead of negatives will make you feel better. Maybe not perfect, but better.
I’ve been working on it. When my brain says, “you can’t”, I’m trying to say (out loud as long as no one’s around to think I’m a wing nut), “I absolutely can, and here’s why”. There’s lots of evidence of me being able to succeed for my brain to draw on – if it really wants to get into the argument.
It’s easy to let self-doubt get the better of you. Especially if your coping mechanisms are losing their edge. If that’s happening, remember what you’ve learned (even if you half-learned it while watching the OC and eating ramen) because you never know what will help you regain your confidence.