It has been months since I stuck a post-it with the words self-doubt written on it on my mirror. It was to remind me that I need to write something on the topic. I would see it every time I passed by but either would never find the time or the inspiration I needed to write on the topic. I am not sure what caused me to put it there. It may have been a thought or a particular situation that sparked an idea at the time. Neither do I remember at this point, what that thought or situation would have been. Maybe it was simply the recognition that I often struggle with self-doubt.
Self-doubt is often thought to be the same as low self-esteem, but it isn’t. Self-esteem has to do with your overall beliefs about yourself, including beliefs about your self-worth; how much you value and like yourself. Self-doubt on the other hand can be defined as uncertainty regarding one or more aspects of yourself.
Self-doubt can cause us to question our abilities, our gifts and our purpose. Can I really do it? Is this what I am really meant to do? Am I good enough? There are so many others better than me! Dare I say that when we doubt ourselves, when we doubt our abilities and our gifts, we doubt God. He has placed within us our gifts, our talents, our strengths, desires and passions; all of it!
What have you been dreaming of doing? What have you been holding back from attempting? What lies have you been telling yourself about your capabilities? What have you been holding out on the world? God has placed that dream, that passion within you for a reason. I have learned that you don’t have to be perfect to start. Once you begin, you grow, you become better and more refined.
Self-doubt partners with fear to prevent us from walking in our purpose. This is a trick of the devil, who is trying at every turn to derail us and ultimately to destroy us. “The greatest tragedy in life is not death but a life lived without purpose”, says Dr. Myles Munroe. Don’t let the devil rob you of your purpose. “Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you…For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2Tim 1:6-7 NKJV). Like Paul I encourage you, stir up your gift! It was given to you for a reason and a purpose.
I like that Paul also points out that God has given us sound mind. Our mind, influenced by the devil and our circumstances can act as our enemy, enabling self-doubt and fear. One writer refers to our mind as a battlefield and tells us that the devil works to set up strongholds in our minds, arguing with us and offering theories and reasonings. But God wants us to have a sound mind. Solomon advises in the Proverbs. “be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts (Prov. 4:23, GNT). When we give in to self-doubt not only are we allowing the devil to defeat us but we are calling God a liar. For he has said that you can do all things through HIM and He gives you strength! (Phil 4:13)
So how do you overcome self-doubt? I can only share with you a few tips that work for me:
- Saturate your mind with the Word of God – the promises that speak to you directly and give you encouragement.
- Surround yourself with persons who will encourage you and lift you up and avoid the negative people and naysayers. I have been blessed with a few people in my life who consistently encourage me and who believe in me even when I do not believe in myself; people who see greatness in me and call it out of me. If by chance you don’t already have such people in your life, pray that God places such people in your life. Then turn around and do the same for someone else.
- Don’t compare yourself to others – this is a dangerous habit in so many ways; it can cripple you. It is Theodore Roosevelt who said, “comparison is the thief of joy.” I remember when a friend may compliment me on something I have written, I would say, “yeah but I am not as good as xxxx” or I wish I could do it like xxxx. It is good to admire, respect and seek to learn from others but don’t let that discount your own ability and rob you of your joy.
- Practice remembrance and thankfulness – recall past accomplishments or a particular situation when you overcame your fear and self-doubt. Give thanks for that and allow it to empower you.
- Take action – this is very important. Nothing energizes and motivates like taking that first step toward a goal or dream. Whatever you have been doubting yourself about, take that first action step. It may be as simple as a telephone call or an email or writing the first paragraph of that story, or in my case that first blog-post.😊
- Don’t expect perfection – I had to put this in; because if you are anything like me, you don’t ever want to fail and you need things to turn out perfect all the time. But it won’t, because that just is not how life works. Accept that and don’t let the need for perfection keep you trapped in an abyss of self-doubt and fear.
I leave you today with one of my favorite quotes by Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world…We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Psst, before you go remember this one thing; you have got greatness within you! 😊