The Benefits of Self-Doubt

July 25, 2016

by Ravi Raman

Even the biggest and brightest vision can lose radiance in the face of self-doubt. Where does self-doubt come from? Self-doubt emerges from fear. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of what others will think. Fear of lacking the skill and tenacity to achieve your goal.

After all, if you are supremely confident of your capacity to accomplish something you care deeply about, then you will not have doubt. The catch is, without some degree of fear or hesitation to overcome, confidence can never truly build. It’s a classic chicken and egg problem. Confidence comes from, in large part, the experience of overcoming scary things and moving past fear.

Self-doubts grow larger when we forget, even momentarily, the purpose behind what we are doing. It’s magnified when we care more about what others will think that what we want. It casts shadows upon our dreams when we allow our erroneous assumptions about what might mess up our plans to overwhelm our usually calm and rational mind. When our purpose is firm and our assumptions minimal, self-doubt will still be there, but it will be kept in its place.

When you receive a vaccine, you are injected with a weak strain of a virus, to support the development of resistance to something much more severe that you might encounter down the road. Likewise, self-doubt is a process by which you can see opportunities for failure ahead of time, but also the possibilities for confronting and defeating them. Self-doubt inoculates you against the things that might derail you later on.

Have you ever noticed that when you doubt yourself, you automatically think of all the little things you need to do to accomplish your goal? You become cautious and careful. Doubt promotes a run-down of your mental checklist to ensure that everything is taken care of. It produces a greater sense caring about what you are doing and the skills you can apply to get the job done.

Self-doubt is a necessary part of personal growth and achievement. Without it, we would make all sorts of unforced errors in the pursuit of our goals. We would parade around supremely confident, but lacking humility and the personal growth that comes from self-awareness. The choice we have, however, is to approach the barrier of self-doubt as an opportunity for learning, reflection, and improvement; and not as a dream killer.

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