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Self-doubt, What is It?

Every time I want to write an article, I catch myself debating wether I should or shouldn't write. There is one voice in my head telling me that maybe no one is interested in what I want to say, that there's too much information online anyway, that it will be hard to structure the content or that I'm just not the social-media type. In one word: I am questioning my own writing competence.

I have identified this voice as my self-doubt. And I have also noticed that from time to time she is present in other parts of my life: in my relationships, in practising sports, in my work.

Most of the time, once I became aware of my doubting voice, it has actually helped me expand my knowledge, look for new solutions, get things done. But sometimes, this voice held me back from what I would have liked to do, "convinced" me it is pointless to try. Which wouldn't necessarily be such a bad thing in small amounts. But I think, in the long run, too many doubting thoughts can undermine our self-esteem and prevent us from achieving our goals.

Through individual therapy, I could identify those experiences that made me doubt myself. I've been able to do many things that I wouldn't have done otherwise. Yet from time to time, I still have reminiscences of my past doubting voice that keep me from doing what I want. So I've decided to become even more aware of this voice and stop believing that all that she says is the truth.

No one is perfect and to expect that from ourselves is unrealistic.

Self-doubt doesn't come out of the blue. It is shaped by experiences in our personal history and how we've interpreted them. Whether it was our parents' divorce, unstable housing, critical parents or teachers, comparisons to other children or friends, bullying...we have formed an opinion of ourselves that we, unfortunately, as adults, forgot to up-date, forgot to be critical and ask ourselves, "is this really so?" Self-doubt can also arise, if as children, our caregiver discouraged us to make our own decisions. We didn't have the chance to practise our decision-making skills.

Psychotherapy is certainly one way we can learn to better identify and manage our doubt. We can learn to take back the control over our decisions and actions. But for that, it is important to be self-conscious, to want change, and of course, to take the first step in that direction.

And here's my challenge for you: how about this week you write on a piece of paper how many times you wanted to do something, but doubt stopped you? Whether it's communicating something important to you, doing what you really want to do, or taking a small decision. Identify the situation and the message you told yourself that kept you from doing what you wanted. This is a good start in unrevealing your self-doubting voice.

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