I think most of us do it from time-to-time; allow those debilitating thoughts of self-doubt to creep through our minds. "Who am I to take this on?" or "I'm not smart enough to do this." Thoughts like these run through the minds of even the most brilliant individuals. Do you ever experience this? I sure do! So, here are some exercises that I use in my coaching practice as an antidote to this poisonous obstruction to productivity and inner-peace.
When you encounter limiting thoughts that lead to self-doubt, take a moment to acknowledge what you are experiencing. Think about the individual phrases moving through your head and write them down. Let's say the thought du jour is "I'm not smart enough to pull this off." (You'd be amazed at how many brilliant and successful people have this tape running in the background.) You will have two columns on your sheet of paper. In one of them write your thought, "I'm Not Smart Enough." Now under that header write down 10 things, that's right --10 things that you've achieved in the last year that required a rather intelligent thought process to pull off. Don't be shy about it. Have you scored great grades in a difficult class? Have you helped clients/customers solve a problem? Have you helped your child process some difficult experiences? Come on, how do you use that amazing brain in your head? Oh, you have more than 10? — Great! Keep writing. Now go back up to the header name and change it to "I AM Smart!"
Next, compose an email to AT LEAST three people who know you fairly well. When I did this, I told these people I was looking at some angles for marketing my business as a coach. I asked them to list 3-5 things that they believe I do well. What do they see in me that makes me a good coach? Well, if their responses weren't a boost to the ego, then nothing could be! No one stopped at 3 things and good wasn't an adjective any of them used. They used words like, amazing, rare, astounding — well, you get the picture. Now add a second column next to "I AM Smart" and call it "How Others See Me." Copy and paste, or write those phrases and adjectives into this column. Wow, how's this picture shaping up?
One more exercise — and it's not easy for some; list 100 of your top qualities. Be honest with yourself — in other words, don't short-change yourself! One word at a time, how would you describe yourself to the world? Good stuff only because that's all that counts here. Do you make people laugh? Is integrity an important value? Are you a good friend? Are you witty or creative? Come on, you can do it — 100 things! If you have to list 10-15 a day, and it takes a while, that's fine — take your time, the end result is the same. And if you absolutely can’t come up with one hundred things, well, things get trickier. Your next step is to enlist the support of two friends who will sit you down and recite your qualities. Ouch! I know, this is not easy to experience – I’ve been there! Make sure to record this conversation so that you can add that long list to your own.
Good job! Now, review the whole picture. Read your lists before you go to bed so that your conscious and subconscious mind can embrace all these wonderful things about you. Refer to these lists when you're feeling self-doubt. Keep in touch with the reality of your genius by reading and re-reading all this great stuff. Accept it — this is the real you. The other is self-sabotage and fear that is only as real as you allow it to be.