I am sure we have all been in a position where we have been working hard to accomplish something; you invest hours and hours into reaching a goal, finishing a project, studying for an exam… only to find that as you are nearing the finish line you start to question yourself.
You start to wonder: am I good enough, smart enough, will people listen to or like me…
Self-doubt creeps into the back of your mind and you start to question yourself. You start to lose confidence in your ability to carry through to your goal.
In order to be successful one needs to believe that they have the ability, knowledge, and strength to accomplish the goals that are set before them. This is not easy as there are many obstacles that lie in front of us on our road to success and we don’t need to be creating our own.
If self-confidence is one of the keys to success, then self-doubt is the destroyer.
Where is it that self-doubt comes from?
Self-doubt stems from our past experiences. Quite possibly we have faced failure in the past and we question our own ability to be successful now. Or, perhaps we have been told by others in the past that we weren’t good enough to get something done. In either case, self-doubt is usually a learned emotion.
If we can remember back to when we were children or if we look at children around us, we can see fearlessness. We are fearless and think we can accomplish anything until we are told and learn to believe that we can’t. We are told that we might fail even before we try something.
Self-doubt is the fear of failure. Self-doubt is the feeling that we don’t have what it takes to accomplish our goal.
Okay, now for a shocking revelation…. failure is, as much as no one likes to fail, the key to success. There probably have been more failures in the history of mankind that there have been successes. But the people who have overcome failure are the ones that have the confidence that if they keep trying their persistence will overcome any failures.
Thomas Edison said "I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work."
Winston Churchill said "Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm."
Had these people given into self-doubt and not continued striving for success, we might not have had the light bulb as soon as we did nor would we have had one of the key people who were instrumental in bringing an end to World War II.
But it is not only these people or others like them that we can take inspiration from in our battle with self-doubt, we can also find stories about successes over self-doubt in the bible.
In Exodus 6, God was trying to use Moses to free the Israelites from their captors and the following happened:
“Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country." But Moses said to the LORD, "If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?" Exodus 6:9-12
Moses’ self-doubt came about from his past experience trying to talk to the Israelites. The Israelites didn’t listen to him. So relying on this experience, he doubted anyone else would listen to him. But God told Moses to go and talk to the Pharaoh and Moses followed God’s command. After Moses’ visit with the Pharaoh, the Israelites were freed.
What if Moses had given into his self-doubt?
We need to learn to accept that self-doubt may come into our lives and try to derail us from accomplishing our goals. We also need to learn to overcome these doubts and continue to work towards what we think is the right course of action. Just as Moses proved to himself that God would give him the strength and courage to standup to the Pharaoh, we need to be confident that God will give us the strength and courage to overcome any doubts we might have about our ability to succeed.