Updated: Nov 18, 2019
Doubt is a natural human emotion. When we are uncertain or nervous about something, it signals our brain to be careful. It warns us of potential danger.
In some cases, this is helpful. For example, in primitive times, our ancestors might have doubted that they could successfully kill tigers alone. This is probably a healthy doubt. If they ignored reality and tried anyways, they might have succeeded, but more likely, they would have been the tiger's dinner.
Thankfully, we no longer have to worry about being eaten by tigers. If you do, you should probably see someone about that...
Anyways, our doubts are often much more dangerous. We doubt ourselves, our abilities, and our potential. Most often, this is neither helpful or healthy.
I'm not sure I can get a high enough mark.
I'm not sure I'm qualified enough.
I'm not sure if I can; I've never done it before.
It nags at us and can be all-consuming. It manifests in many different ways, and creeps in softly and slowly when we are not paying attention.
I'm not saying it's all bad. Again, doubt is natural, and having a certain level is helpful. It's usually a good thing to be unsure going into new things. It cautions us when we travel into uncharted territory. It keeps us humble.
However, it gets unhealthy when it prevents us from taking any action at all.
I'm not sure if I will get this job, so I won't even apply
I'm not sure I can run a 5k, so I won't run at all
I'm not sure if I can commit to three hours, so I will do nothing
I see this manifest ALL. THE. TIME. With everything. From jobs, to grades, to extra-curriculars, to social situations, we are afraid to even try.
I know this exists because I've been there too. It sucks. That feeling of not being sure if you're good enough, smart enough, qualified enough, talented enough, experienced enough...? That's our inner bully, and it weighs us down like a heavy blanket.
When we let our inner bullies sit and fester, we are giving them prime real estate in the most important space: our thoughts. We are letting it live there, rent-free!
Stop letting it happen! The next time you hear that inner bully knocking on the door and trying to break-in to your thoughts, I want you to stand up to it. You can listen to it's elevator pitch, but ultimately, you need to decide that your confidence is stronger than your doubt.
Ask Yourself This
The next time you're in a situation when you aren't sure if you can do something, ask yourself this one question: What if?
What if __________? (and fill in the blank)
What if I could do it?
What would it look like if I got the job?
How would it feel if I ran the 5k?
What if I could make 3 hours, or even 2?
If it opens doors. If it is an opportunity. Asking "What if?" gives ourselves permission to TRY.
In the wise words of Canadian hockey icon and Tim Horton's cup model Wayne Gretsky, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
What's the worst thing that can happen?
This isn't me saying,"When you don't believe you can do something, just tell yourself you can and it will fix everything". That's very optimistic, but neither helpful or realistic. Sometimes when we go for things, they don't work out - and that's okay.
But, you need to try. Whether this a goal related to your fitness, career, health, routines, finances, relationships, or something else entirely, I want you to go for it.
Seriously, what's the worst that could happen? It doesn't work out. That is okay. Often the perceived failure is much, much worse than if we were to actually fail. Plus, we learn way more from failures than from our wins.
Ask yourself, what if I succeed? Think about how much your life will improve. Now, take the steps necessary to make sure you do.
But, if we don't even try? We don't give ourselves the chance to win OR to learn. I don't know about you, but I would rather take a 50% chance on winning than a 100% chance on nothing.
Whatever it is that you've been waiting to start, stop doubting yourself. Stop thinking that it will be easier tomorrow. Stop making excuses. The best time to start was a year ago. The next best time is today.
So, go! Get out there! Don't let your doubts stop you from applying for the job, lacing up the running shoes, or committing some of your time. You ARE capable of achieving big things!
I can't wait to watch you try, and I'll be right here cheering you on - regardless of whether you win or learn.