You might be in a new job or leadership role, or have made a major mistake, or have recently lost a job, or be entering the workforce for the first time or after a long break. Let’s face it: Almost everyone has serious moments of self-doubt at some point in his or her career.
Self-doubt can hurt you both personally and professionally, making you may feel inadequate, overwhelmed, and insecure when it creeps in. But the bottom line is that it is your own personal battle.
Research confirms that self-doubt cans seriously impair your performance at work. When you experience bad self-doubt, you simply don’t do the things you need to do, are scared to try new activities, and lose the motivation to perform. It prompts defensive actions to avoid failure that can limit your growth and change. Self-doubt can make you sabotage your chances at success also.
You need to learn to use your doubt and get beyond it. Research indicates that self-doubt handled correctly can actually offer opportunities for personal growth, change, and improved confidence. In a February 2012 Forbes article, Geri Sengel profiled the journey of Dareth Colburn, the founder of USABride, who as a single mother, unemployed and $30,000 in debt, was full of self-doubt. Colburn started her business by setting goals and listening to self-empowerment tapes. USABride now has $3 million in revenue, and Colburn is now aiming to reach $5 million.
How do you get past self-doubt in the workplace?
1. Recognize that it is not unique to you. Many workplace situations trigger self-doubt. Remember that you’re not alone in having such feelings. A study of managers by the European Institute for Leadership and Management revealed that 50% of female managers and 31% of male managers admitted to experiencing self-doubt.
2. Question your doubt. Faulty patterns of thinking about yourself can be very harmful. As the psychologist Martin Seligman suggests, you should test your doubts. Ask, are they realistic, or are you overreacting? Keep a diary of your feelings, and evaluate all beliefs that may be unhelpful. When you experience self-doubt, spend time reflecting on its causes. Argue against it, and challenge your beliefs. According to Seligman, that may change your negative reactions and lead to a positive reframing of the situation.
3. Seek out advice, support, and mentorship from others. Nothing can help alleviate self-doubt better than seeking advice and coaching from others. Research has found that warmth, coaching, and positive support from others can directly reduce self-doubt. When your personal uncertainty becomes extreme, seek out professional help.
4. Relax and distract yourself. Sometimes simply relaxing or finding other activities can draw you away from negativism and refocus your attention on the positive aspects of a situation. Also, suppress negative thoughts by telling yourself to stop and immediately beginning to focus on more positive thoughts and images.
5. Engage in self-talk and imagery. Talk to yourself. Many athletes do so to improve their performance. You are your own best champion. Put positive scripts in your head: “I can do this.”
6. Set specific goals. Goals provide direction. You can set goals for desired outcomes as well as for overcoming obstacles. In her book Succeed, Heidi Grant Halvorson notes that it is important to embrace positive thinking about how you will specifically achieve a goal. Put in the time, planning, and effort you need to move ahead. And, just as important, be persistent, even in the face of obstacles and self-doubt.
7. Face your fears. Fear can create a sense that a challenge is insurmountable. It often presents itself as a fight-or-flight response, which can be paralyzing. In such a situation, ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen. Turn your energy to fighting, instead of flying, and say yes to things you may be avoiding. Sometimes you simply need to give a thing a try to overcome the fear that holds you back.
Self-doubt can be your biggest enemy in the workplace, so learning how to manage it is crucial for career success. Read more…