Growth

Seven Ways to Kick Chronic Self-Doubt in the Face

Everyone doubts themselves now and then. A moderate dose of doubt can be good for a person, as long as it doesn’t take over. However, the effects of growing up in an environment (i.e. school) whose infrastructure is in direct conflict with the way many an ADD brain works, make it not uncommon for ADDers to doubt their abilities and suffer low self-esteem because of these doubts.

The problem lies in the fact that many ADDers have come to conclusions about themselves that are not as true as they believe them to be. They may see themselves as stupid, incompetent or incapable of learning. They may believe themselves to be obnoxious, unruly, or just plain bad. These kinds of labels do nothing to help an ADDer “perform” better, and in fact can be debilitating. Never mind the fact that they are just plain wrong.

The problem is, these negative self-beliefs have become so ingrained by the time a person reaches adulthood, it feels impossible to shake them. It is at these times that you must go to war with your negative self. The steps to fighting it aren’t easy, but then again – neither is feeling bad about yourself.

 

1. Declare war

Decide right now that you will no longer submit to totalitarian rule and plan your coup against the “authority” that tells you can’t do it:

 

Until you declare outright war, you will never be sovereign from a limiting view of yourself. (Click to tweet)

 

2. Name your opponent

Imagine self-doubt (substitute self-loathing, self-criticism, low confidence) as a tangible opponent. Give it a face, a body and a name if possible. What would it look like or sound like? I see mine as Goliath, much larger and uglier than me, his arms are big and his voice is booming but he is Neanderthal-esque. He’s a brute but an idiot. I can be smarter than him. Know who it is you are fighting.

 

3. Get in the ring

Your opponent expects you to back down. Surprise him with hand-to-hand combat. This starts with a decision that no matter what that inner voice of treason tells you, you will swing your bat at every ball. Start by simply saying “No, I will not listen to you.”

 

 

4. Bring out the big guns

Daily affirmations and letters of gratitude may help when you’re feeling a bit low on yourself, but when your self-esteem has launched a full-blown assaultive, you need heavy artillery to win the battle. Decide that with each blow that inner voice delivers, you will throw a bigger punch. Bigger punches come in three different forms:

A. The lefthook: Undermine self-doubt by focusing on every piece of evidence that contradicts it, no matter how small that piece of evidence may seem. This means tit for tat. If you notice self-doubt telling you can’t do something or aren’t good enough, then you must deliberately look for evidence that says you can and are good enough. Every piece of evidence counts. If, at the beginning, your mind can’t focus on what’s good about you, then try a reverse tactic – focus on why your negative views are wrong.

B. The uppercut: If you can’t generate your own evidence, turn to others who can. What would your closest family member or best friend say about the negative thought you are having about yourself? If you can, seek out their advice directly. If the people in your life don’t know how to be supportive, think about what a trusted expert in the field of ADD or someone else you admire might say.

C. The low blow: Find the Achilles heal. Every point of view is just a view, a negative one is no more correct than a positive one. It only feels like it is because you have learned to judge yourself against faulty standards that tell you that you are wrong or not good enough. Find holes in the standards that fuel your low opinion of yourself. Are the standards too black and white? Do you apply these standards only to yourself and not other people? Do your views neglect key pieces of information? Is there another way of looking at things?

 

5. Change your tactics

In “How David Beats Goliath”, Malcolm Gladwell points out that the underdog actually has a bigger advantage than the titan when he employs unconventional tactics. David brought Goliath down with one stone. Think carefully about one thing in your life you could change. That thing might be the stone to throw your self-doubt off its feet. You may need to start doing something small that will give you even one more ounce confidence. Ounces added to ounces make up gallons, eventually. Think of yourself as a learner, rather than a master. Failure is okay, because each failure teaches you something. After all, “an ounce of action is worth a ton of theory. Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions.”(Ralph Waldo Emerson).

 

 

6. Strengthen your defenses

Get busy, surround yourself with things that make you feel good. Banish negative thoughts with the one thing they can’t argue with: the law of averages says that repeated efforts are those most likely to bring about success. Give yourself every opportunity to succeed starting with small efforts. Don’t allow that voice to negate your efforts by telling you small successes don’t count. Lots of little things contribute to the big picture.

7. Declare victory, but keep your guard up

Self-doubt never goes away completely, but you can quiet it significantly by closing the door on it, and being mindful when it starts to creep up again. Watch for it, but don’t let it in the door. A bouncer at a nightclub has the authority to decided who does or doesn’t get into the club. If someone looks like they are up for causing a bit of trouble, a bouncer doesn’t let him in and then wait to see if he’ll cause trouble. He knows it’s much easier to keep a trouble maker out in the first place than to try and get him out later. Guard your mind like a bouncer.

The war on chronic self-doubt can be an epic one, but the more battles you win, the more you stand the chance of claiming victory and ending the war.

The most important thing is that you never give up.

Share you strategies for overcoming self-doubt in the comments below!

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3 comments on “Seven Ways to Kick Chronic Self-Doubt in the Face

  1. Thank you for your post on “The Art of War”-Self-Doubt. It is phenomenal!!! It is so useful whether one has ADD or not. The Art of War truly does provide a strategy to nip self-doubt before it has a chance to load its ammunition. I also appreciate the creative perspective. It is an excellent metaphor. Thank you again.

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