Self-Improvement Through Self-Doubt

Self-Improvement Through Self-Doubt
contrast different bright human watercolor painting design

One of the most powerful things we experience is seeking to improve ourselves. We can surely reboot or start over completely, though that does take much, much longer time.  I do believe we can turn a situation or shortcoming around in a much shorter timeframe, if we are committed to change and learn faster.  If we find ourselves troubled by our own actions, or our human failings are glaringly obvious, a courageous look inward can be a great motivator for change. Fair warning: change isn’t always comfortable. In fact, if it is comfortable, it’s not change!

Self-defeating actions can become like a pebble in our shoe — it may bother us a bit in the beginning but if we don’t address it we will soon feel full-on pain that we could have avoided. We have to pay attention to recurring actions that bring negative outcomes just like we would a pebble in our shoe. If we don’t pay attention to it, it becomes a problem. This is where self-doubt serves a purpose. It makes us aware of our own self-defeating actions.

While self-doubt has its merits, it’s equally important to not fall too deeply into the self-doubt trap. We can bring on an “overabundance of self-awareness” when we begin looking at our shortcomings. While it may seem like self-awareness is good in any amount for personal growth, we can develop a burdensome feeling of over-responsibility. We should focus our efforts on change as a habit. We must also learn to prioritize and not get into self-admonishment. We must focus on our progress.

Self-admonishment can be tricky to identify when we are mired in the behavior. It can present itself as negative self-talk hidden behind “constructive criticism.” Blatant self-critique, such as “I’m ugly” may be obviously detrimental, but a day filled with “what ifs” can quietly — and significantly — rattle our self-esteem. Negative self-talk isn’t always obvious. Simple statements to ourselves like “I wish I’d gotten to work earlier,” “I wish I were creative” or “I wish I had scored higher on the exam” tend to pile up and weigh on us. If you aren’t sure whether or not your self-talk is negative, try a simple test I use. Ask yourself: “Would I say this to a child?” Additionally, we often question our behaviors and qualities in response to witnessing others who have those qualities. Now we are not only mired in quiet self-critique, we are comparing ourselves to others, a double whammy on our self-esteem. We set ourselves up to fall short in our minds time and time again.

There are benefits to self-doubt. Appropriate amounts of self-doubt motivate us to improve our lives and can create a positive trickle-down effect. When we are motivated to improve our lives, we can. With faith in ourselves, a little trust, a lot of patience and acceptance that our journey is our own, we can indeed improve our lives — and possibly the lives of those around us.