Hacks, Habits & Habit-Hacks

Education, Encouragement, Experiences

Navigating self-doubt & knowing what you want

I was interviewed on a podcast recently about self-doubt. More specifically, what hacks and tips did I recommend to held people navigate self-doubt. On the one hand, I love being on podcasts – so naturally, I wanted to say yes. BUT hacks? Tips? That stumped me. How can I offer value here without pissing everyone off by basically saying, “Thanks for having me, but I don’t think there IS a hack.” If there were, I’d have a billion dollar business called BUST Your FEAR, a private jet with a cool name like Cruzin’ and could send Oprah beautiful floral arrangements…because I would have her address. So, for the next few minutes, I’m going to share here part of what I talked about in the interview, how can we approach navigating self-doubt in a meaningful way AND an exercise that I have used with clients that can be helpful too.

Where does self-doubt come from?

From the time we’re born, we’re looking to the world (the people who raised us) to tell us how we feel.

  • I fell down and look to mom to see if I’m scared
  • I’m about to touch something shiny and look to dad to see if it’s okay, and no matter how much I feel like I should’t I really want to touch the shiny thing
  • I did something new and exciting and look to someone who loves me to be excited with me

This is natural, common and is experienced by every living person. What changes is:

  • How people respond to us
  • How they’re feeling when they respond
  • Culture
  • Gender
  • Safety & Stability

As we’re looking to the world to tell us how to be in it, we’re also moving through our life with our own needs, feelings and desires. We’re hungry, we’re tired, we’re bored, etc. And sometimes, depending on our situation, we begin to contort our feelings to fit the needs of our environment. We do this to belong, to be included and in many cases to create safety.

When self-doubt becomes confusing.

Self-doubt becomes confusing when our feelings and needs shift to fit the needs of our environment over and over again, and then someone asks you “What do you want?” To eat, to watch, to be when you grow up?… What. Do. You. Want. If you’ve spent years practicing being what everyone wants you to be, it would be INCREDIBLY confusing to consider your own needs, let alone answer the damn question.

What’s the hack?

We doubt ourselves when we lose trust in ourselves or trust in our ability. So, “the tip” – re-learn how to trust yourself. Blech, right? Gross. Gross, gross, gross. That’s not quick. That’s not sexy. And it really won’t POP on a billboard. And, and, and…it’s mostly (I mean always but don’t like to say always) true.

What’s the habit-hack?

If there was a place to start it would be here – let your inner world, match your outside world. When you feel something, find a way to acknowledge the truth of what you’re feeling, even if it’s only to yourself in a journal. If something in your environment doesn’t feel good to you – from the temperature in your bedroom to the way your partner speaks to you – find a way to acknowledge that too. A baby step could be telling yourself how you really feel in your own mind. A bigger leap might be sitting down and having a real conversation.

What’s a step that you can take for more clarity?

One of my favorites is to “Widow shop joy.” Window shopping is light, pleasurable, and not necessary like running errands or back to school shopping. And that’s how you want to approach this exercise. Light, breezy and utterly without pressure.

As you move through your day, simply notice anything that feels good, makes your smile, or lights you up. One example for me is my very first sip of coffee in the morning. It’s hot (but not too hot bc I’m kind of a weeny when it comes to temperature), I’ve been smelling my husband make the coffee so I’m already anticipating it with pleasure, and it’s not cold from forgetting it somewhere in the rush of the morning.

Maybe you make your list in a note on your phone, maybe you write it in a journal or maybe you just make a mental note. It’s all fine. * Remember – window shopping.

Overtime you’ll amass your own special list. It might look like:

  • Taking my dog for a walk
  • The high-five my boss gave me
  • The sweet heart the barista drew on my coffee cup
  • The cool air in the evening

Then, when you’re feeling a little adventurous or energized, go back to your list and use as many adjectives as you can to describe WHY you like what you like. How it feels and why it’s special. After a while you’ll start to get a sense of the feelings that light you up. And THIS is the secret sauce. The real Habit-Hack. You’re practicing paying attention to what feels good in your brain and body.

When we’re confused or feel stuck, sometimes the problem isn’t knowing what we don’t want. It’s knowing what we do.

Looking for more support?

You can listen to the podcast Don’t Cut Your Own Bangs HERE. Or, on iTunes & Spotify.

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