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Kick Out Self-Doubt – Evict Your Inner Critic and Become Your Own Best Coach

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Many of us, when we start thinking about our dreams, can go from being filled with hope one second, to being wracked with doubt the next. Fear of failure inhibits us. The thinking goes like this: “If I try and fail, that will be crushing; it will take away the comfort I get from thinking that I could live the dream one day.” 

Before long, that thought becomes a habit, and as a result, many people prefer to travel with hope without action, than to have their hopes dashed by trying and failing.

Is that you? Does the illusion of safety where you are, drive your self-doubt every time that you want to achieve a goal, or set yourself a new challenge? Are your visions of achievement quickly erased by your internal negativity? Does self-doubt reside in your mind like a squatter, destroying the life you want to build?

If so, it is long past time for an eviction notice. It’s time to kick out your self-doubt. Your worst enemy, your inner doubt, is disguised as a concerned, friendly, roommate. You can now reclaim the space; with the help of some powerful techniques, you can become your own best coach and go on to flourish.

Here are 12 powerful techniques to silence the inner critic and work towards becoming your own best coach.

Each of us is responsible for our own thoughts. We are not responsible for the random firing of thoughts that emerge in our brain. We are responsible for those thoughts that we choose to stay with.

1. Identify the negative voice

You can recognise the self-doubt by its set phrases. 

  • “I can’t.”
  • “I’m not good enough.”
  • “I’m too old/young.”
  • “I don’t have the skills/knowledge/connections/money.”
  • “It never works out for me.”
  • “I’m going to fail.”
  • “Even if I succeed, it’s just not worth it.”
  • “What will people think?”

2. Challenge the negative narrative

Self-doubt whispers in the shadows and destroys self-confidence, ambition and aspiration. Drag self-doubt into the light and robustly question its claims. Ask it for evidence, for proof, for anything beyond its flimsy negativity. Usually, such voices crumble under critical examination. 

3. Reframe the doomsaying dialogue

Turn “I can’t” into “I can figure out how,” or “I’m learning.” 

Swap “What if I fail?” for “How do I succeed?” Replace “Why me?” with “This is my chance to grow.” Flip the script and kick out self-doubt.

4. Celebrate small wins

Every step forward is a victory. Every attempt at progress is a win. Acknowledge your progress, no matter how seemingly insignificant. A completed article, a mastered skill, a conquered fear – these are all trophies deserving of a celebration.

5. Build a support squad

Surround yourself with supporters who believe in you and your dreams. Seek out mentors, friends, or online communities, who radiate positivity and encourage your growth. Build your social capital so that you don’t have to fight alone.

6. Practise self-compassion

When you stumble, treat yourself with kindness. Everyone makes mistakes; they’re stepping stones, not stumbling blocks. Forgive yourself, learn, and get back on track.

7. Visualise your success

Close your eyes and paint in your mind a vivid picture of your dreams coming true. Feel the thrill of achievement, the warmth of validation, and the joy of reaching your goals. Let this mental movie fuel your motivation. Play the movie often!

8. Aim for progress, not perfection

The journey is more important than the destination. Enjoy the messy beauty of learning and celebrate the incremental improvements that pave your path to success.

9. Keep away from comparison traps

Comparing ourselves to others is less than wise. Scrolling through other people’s highlight reels on social media is a recipe for self-doubt. 

Most people want the world to see them at their best, and that is what much of social media is about. If you see their best as the whole picture and don’t know of their inner struggles, you may make comparisons that demoralise you. 

Everyone has their own struggles and journeys. Focus on your own path. If you must look at the best possible parts of the lives of others, let them inspire you, not diminish you.

10. Silence the “shoulds”

“Should-urbating” is extremely self-destructive. Inner voices that say, “I should be further along by now,” or “I should be doing better,” are very demoralising. By replacing the “shoulds” with more empowering phrases, such as: “I am working towards my goals,” “I am doing my best,” and “My skills and knowledge grow every day,” you can reclaim your morale and inner peace, boost your motivation, and make success more likely.

11. Practise gratitude

Think often of all the good in your life. Gratitude can start early in the day. If you wake up, that’s something to appreciate. If you move your arms and don’t feel the wooden walls of a coffin, that’s even better! 

Gratitude shifts your perspective to the positives in your life, and weakens the grip of negative self-doubt. A thankful heart leaves little room for self-doubting negativity.

12. Believe in yourself

Most of us underplay our potential for achievement. We are all capable of amazing things. ‘You have the power to move closer to the life you dream of.’ Repeat this as a mantra, write it on your mirror, and whisper it to your reflection. Let self-belief drown out the whispers of doubt.

Kicking out self-doubt is an ongoing journey, not a destination. There will be times when it creeps back in, because of a human tendency known as “negative drift”. When we let down our guard, the mind tends to move towards negativity and self-doubt. To quote the title of a book by John and Peter McWilliams, “You can’t afford the luxury of a negative thought.”

You are now equipped with some tools to evict negativity and self-doubt each time they appear. 

Using the techniques shared here, you can empower yourself; you can work towards being your own best coach. 

What steps will you take to evict self-doubt? What mental habits will you form to make self-doubt a part of your past?

Professor Nigel MacLennan runs the performance coaching practice PsyPerform.


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