Self-Improvement Through Self-Doubt

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.