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Self Doubt: A Disease that Doesn’t Discriminate!

Self Doubt: A Disease that Doesn’t Discriminate!

    What if…

    What if I forget the words when I stand up there? What if I go completely blank? What if I totally suck? What if I look or sound stupid?  What if they hate me? What if I’m not pretty enough? Cool enough? Smart enough? Qualified enough? Experienced enough? Talented enough? Thin enough? What if they see through my act? What if they discover what I’m really like? What if they find out about my issues? Or my history? What if the course is too difficult for me? What if I do what Craig suggests and it doesn’t work? Or what if it does work and then I lose motivation and focus? Surely I’m too old to start something new anyway? Or too inexperienced to establish my own business? Perhaps I’m past learning new things and developing new skills? Surely I won’t fit in, will I? What if I get all excited – like I always do – and then fail again? What if I disappoint people again? Hmm, perhaps I need a little more time to plan and think about this.

    Which is code for “I’m too scared to do anything, so I’ll do nothing”.

    Again.

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    A Disease

    Self doubt; it’s a disease that doesn’t discriminate. It affects our mind, our emotions and even our physiology. It’s multi-dimensional and if you let it, it will destroy your opportunities, waste your potential, ruin your relationships, infect your thinking, crush your hope and at its worst, ruin your life. It’s not concerned with race, religion, age, skin colour, past achievements, social standing, sex, talent, IQ or bank balance and it knows where you live.

    Knock, Knock…

    For many of us, self doubt comes knocking on our door every day. Sometimes it will give an apologetic, sorry-to-bother-you kind of tap, and on other occasions it will almost smash the door down with it’s incessant and violent banging. More often than not, it will arrive disguised as something much more noble like concern, logic or reason but in reality, it’s none of those things. It’s just fear in a different outfit. Self-doubt with a little make-up and a pretty dress. Don’t be fooled; she’s a bitch and despite the charade, she doesn’t care about you at all.

    Fear by Another Name

    That’s all self doubt is by the way; one of the many faces of fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of public humiliation, fear of getting uncomfortable, fear of the unknown, fear of poverty, fear of isolation and even fear of success. Like all forms of fear, self-doubt is essentially self-created and perpetuated because it can only exist in our head. In order for it to survive, we must give it a place to live. And we do.

    In the pursuit of our best life, our challenge is not to overcome self-doubt but rather, to manage it. To recognise it for what it is (a form of fear), to feel it, acknowledge it and then do what we need to do (to reach our goals), DESPITE it.

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    “Recognising, feeling and acknowledging self-doubt, does not mean being controlled or determined by it.”

    The Human Experience

    Of course, over time we will find a way to turn down the volume (of the banging on the door), but a life totally devoid of self-doubt is an unrealistic goal. People who succeed (no matter what the endeavour) invariably find a way to do what they need to do, despite their self-doubt. They are aware of it and they are challenged by it, but they are not controlled or determined by it. Self doubt is universal and it is an unavoidable part of the human experience. For life. None of us are exempt. If you doubt yourself often, don’t feel weak or flawed, feel human. Feel alive. Feel normal. If self-doubt is a sign of weakness then I’m a big pussy.

    The questions we should ask ourselves in relation to this chat are not:

    “Do I ever experience self-doubt?”

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    But rather:

    1. “What impact do I allow self-doubt to have on my decisions, behaviours and results?”

    and…

    2. “Do I manage it, or does it manage me?”

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    If you came here today looking for a solution, then walk to the bathroom and look in the mirror; there’s your solution. Even if you don’t know it or feel like it, let me tell you that no book, blog, idea, program, CD, DVD or guru will change you. No, that’s your job. Those resources (that’s all they are) can stimulate, inspire, educate, challenge, provoke and encourage you, but only you can change your current reality and only you can build your best life. That’s why this website is not a solution but rather a humble resource.

    Do what you need to and stop looking for the magic pill.

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    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

    Do You Make These 10 Common Mistakes Before Weighing Yourself? If your Childhood Sucked – It’s Time to Stop Blaming Your Parents! Exploring Relationships with the Single Weirdo Education Should be More than Academic Basics How to Stop Being an Over-Thinker

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

    The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

    Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    How to Self-Taught Effectively

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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