Since we've been working with a few people to help them with their goals for some upcoming running events (race a new distance, achieve a Personal Best time or even run their very first race!) there's been a lot of conversation around "can I do it?"; "did I train enough?" or "will I do well?" I also get these type of questions and concerns when talking with first time clients wanting to start an exercise program.
We all have them. They can hit us any time - self doubts. Sometimes, when we don't stop them soon enough, we can self sabotage or scare ourselves into a fear that stops us from going forward. That's why it's equally important to "train your brain" as well as your body.
Self doubt is like a thief, it actually steals the possibilities from your life. It makes your experience of being alive much less rich because you don't take risks. It takes away your desire to achieve anything much of value. It lessens the joy you could have had from living a fuller life and leaves you unhappy and poorer in spirit.
So, how do we stop self-doubt from sabotaging our goals and ambitions? I wanted to share with you some of what worked for me when I was training for various events (running, paddling, MOMAR) and also share with you some of what the experts in the field of 'mind training', and other athletes who have encountered doubts, have previously expressed.
Here are a few techniques and tips to help prepare you for the next time a negative, self-doubt, thought appears:
First... Believe in Yourself
Want to know something, a fact you may have forgotten because no one's told you for a while? You ARE a unique and talented person with the potential to be successful. I know, it sounds cheesy. But, it also happens to be a reality. Accepting this as a statement of truth is the foundation of beating self doubt. Believe it and believe in you!
Don't Ignore It
The first step in defeating self doubt is not to ignore it or pretend it will go away. It's impossible to defeat a problem unless you acknowledge it exists and bring it out into the open. Instead, we need to face our self doubt full on and see it for what it is - a form of fear to be conquered. It's only by recognizing this fear that we can get on with what needs to be done, in spite of it.
The most effective antidote to self doubt is to take action. That might sound obvious, but it isn't easy to do when you don't believe in your abilities. The solution to this is to devise a plan on how you'll reach your goal. The key is in the preparation: you might need to study and learn further information or train and practice with a new skill. By preparing yourself, when self doubt appears you can be reassured that: "I'm ready for this moment. I can do it".
When you do start off on the journey to achieving your goal, take small steps to ease yourself in. Remember, as the saying goes "Rome wasn't built in a day" so don't take on too much or expect immediate results. As you do start seeing results, your confidence will increase and you can then tackle larger parts of your plan. Nothing breeds confidence like a little success!
Appreciate Your Accomplishments
Whenever I'm confronted with self doubt, one tactic that helps me is to devote some time and space to reflect on the things I've already achieved and succeeded at. I let the positive memories play around in my mind until my mood changes and I start feeling better. These don't have to be on a grand scale to matter - those little 'wins' count too.
Keep a Record of Achievement
It's useful to have a ready supply of 'feel good' reminders at hand. Try keeping a diary or journal in which you write down a list of all the things you achieve on a daily basis. Looking back over this will help you keep track of what you can do, rather than highlighting what you didn't do.
Surround Yourself With Supporters
It often helps to discuss your fears and doubts with people you're close to. Other folk are much more likely to be objective about your feelings and their advice and encouragement can help cut through your insecurities.
Join a group fitness class (Hint: we suggest one of OUR CLASSES) where you'll be welcomed by a group of friendly, like-minded people.
Stop Being So Hard on Yourself
Finally, here's the bottom line, you're only human. So, you're bound to fail at some things and succeed at others. We all make mistakes. Accept it and don't be too hard on yourself. Instead of being knocked down by them, use those mistakes to guide you to improve next time you try. Learn to forgive yourself for failing and don't replay your mistakes over and over in your mind. This is a waste of time and simply serves to keep you trapped in the frustrating cycle of self doubt. Instead, become your own best cheerleader!
You can't avoid self doubt as it's a natural reaction to pursuing your dreams and stretching beyond the limits of the life you're accustomed to. But, self doubt shouldn't be the reason to stop trying to live as fully, healthy and as breathtakingly as you can.
Next time you come face-to-face with self doubt, recognize it and take a few minutes to readjust your focus using the tips and techniques suggested above. Then, you can stare it down and still have the confidence to move onwards to achieving your goals.
Return To Top