“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.”
It is not uncommon in the life of a normal person to wake up one fine morning and feel as if the walls are closing in on him/her. Questions, that might’ve seemed restricted to self-help books, start popping up randomly in one’s mind- “Am I worth the task?”, “Can I complete the job?”, “There are people better than me for what I’m trying…”, and so on. That life is full of vicissitudes is something that the mind fails to perceive under such circumstances. Speaking from a personal point of view, such visitations of doubt have not been alien to me either.
What causes these doubts, why they make these sudden visitations, etc have numerous answers- expectations of loved ones, competition among peers, standards set down by elder brothers or sisters (or even close friends), the societal perspective to almost anything and everything we do…and there are many! But, like most motivational speakers say, life begins at the close of a door. Don’t let doggy-doubts and foggy-fears be the party poopers in your life! Even though it is difficult to lay down a stringent path for overcoming self-doubt, the following few steps will go a long way in keeping distress at bay.
10. TUNE IN TO HEALTHY MUSIC AND INDULGE IN MEDITATION/EXERCISE
Although this might sound like a clichéd mechanism, trust me, it helps immensely. A good, rejuvenating tune early in the morning or late at night (before hitting the bed) gives the right amount of positive energy to one’s thoughts. I mean, which person’s spirits wouldn’t be lifted after 3-4 minutes of country music or light rock? The Beatles, John Denver, Bon Jovi (among many others) have plenty of tracks to keep you in the right mood all day long! Also, never slight the power of meditation. If music is food, meditation (or any sort of physical exercise) is the roughage- it keeps your mind and body in perfect sync with one another. Lethargy breeds negativity and the perfect way to get rid of it is to work it out. A whole-hearted 30-minute session is good enough to charge you up for a day!
9. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR DOUBT AND TURN IT INTO A WEAPON
Sounds gibberish? Not quite. Like fear, doubt, when recognized and channeled, can be used to one’s advantage. A classic example of this is the Argentine national team, more so in the case of Lionel Messi. After WC 2010 and the dismal show by the Argentines, Lionel Messi, along with the entire team, was criticized for failing to live up to the expectations worldwide. The “best player in the world” tag seemed to have gone for a toss. But Messi, despite any doubts that might’ve crept in, responded on the field. He shattered the record for the most number of goals in a calendar year (in 2012 with 91 goals) and led Argentina to the WC finals in 2014. And although they couldn’t win it, it showed the grit of Messi’s character.
8. RECORD YOUR THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS IN A DIARY/JOURNAL
The habit of writing a diary at the close of a day serves not only to record the moments, but is also an exercise in introspection. Express your emotions, show your gratitude, let your resentments out, focus on your loved ones and curb your demons. You may not feel a mammoth change in a day or two but, given the time, perusing what you wrote (at a later date) will surely make you more self-aware and you will find yourself developing the correct outlook; as Cicero had rightly put it, “Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself”!
7. IDENTIFY YOUR CLOSEST FRIENDS AND SOCIALIZE MORE
The greatest inspiration in one’s life can come from, apart from family (of course), one’s friends. And when I say friends I don’t mean the fawning kind for whom the greatest link of friendship is posting pictures together or gossiping about useless stuff. People who have been there for you through the thickest of times, people who have seen the uglier side of you and love you in spite of that, people who have known you inside out are people who you can call your closest friends. No human being can survive as an island in society- man was cut out as a social animal and remains so till he breathes his last. Socializing with more people and identifying like-minded peers can go a long way in boosting one’s morale.
6. BRING YOURSELF TO PLANET EARTH
I don’t quite mean that for astronauts in particular! Ahem…jokes apart, as it is advisable not to “build sand castles in the air” it is equally advisable not to drown in the pits of self-pity. Undermining oneself was never and will never be the key to greater good. The moment you find yourself being pulled into the depths of desolation, go out! Have fun, do silly stuff, crash a party… The key to staying positive involves remaining latched on to the present from the present.
5. FORGET ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE MIGHT THINK
Society did not bring you into this world, your parents did. Society did not nurture you, your parents did. Society did not make a man out of you, your parents, teachers and friends did. It is high time that you let go of the shackles that society wrongly believes it can put on you. The only thing you owe society is becoming a good human being; and as long as you aren’t going berserk with a gun in your hand, you’re doing more than fine. To care about every single thing every other person might have to say, you will have to become a thousand parts of yourself thereby dragging yourself back to what this article is strongly advising against!
4. FIND THAT ONE PERSON WHO CAN TRULY LOVE YOU
I don’t mean to preach about the upsides of having a girlfriend, but it helps incredibly to have a person in your life with who you can be at your best, worst, quirkiest, weirdest, most random self. Every person needs to feel treasured and every person needs to feel that he/she matters in someone else’s life like few other things might. And when you find yourself lost in a maze, when you feel things are falling out of place, the reassuring words and presence of that one person will be enough to jolt you back into action and behave as if nothing ever went wrong.
3. DO NOT TAKE ANGRY WORDS TO HEART
Friends, family, teachers…they all have a purpose in your life and that is to see you become the man/woman that you aspire to be. As with the absence of friction walking would’ve been impossible, similarly every meaningful relationship is also associated with a fair deal of friction. But when this friction turns to heat and angry words fly amok, be wise enough to understand that none of it is meant. It might seem like an easier-said-than-done paradigm at the moment, but once you give it a thought you’ll realize that your parents, friends or teachers intentionally hurting you would make as much sense as a horse laying eggs.
2. GIVE YOURSELF THE MUCH NEEDED BREAK
The constant pressure of trying to live up to the expectations and standards that you wish to achieve can certainly take a toll on the body and mind. If allowed to go unchecked, Lord forbid, it can take a toll on your sanity as well. No human being was ever designed to slog it out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You need a break if you feel overburdened and quite rightly deserve it as well! Go out for a movie, hang out over a drink, catch a game of soccer…let go of those incessantly hounding doubts!
1. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF WITH OTHER PEOPLE
The moment you start racking your head over what others are doing, or how they are doing it better than you are will be the moment your doubts have you by the leash. Your feeling of inadequacy, which is inevitable if you compare yourself to other people, will serve only to break the wall of your confidence. While it is perfectly fine to derive inspiration from other people’s achievements, it is absolutely out of place to allow yourself to be bogged down by it. As Shakespeare had rightly said, “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt”. Always realize that what makes you feel good and happy is what determines your success irrespective of how different it might be from someone else’s deeds.
What is of prime importance, and is to be remembered at all times, is that we are not perfect. Although heard and said in almost every second place, it is important to realize that “to err is human” and to forgive, divine. And that includes forgiving oneself. Doubt must beget faith and it is faith that will serve as the weapon to dispel doubts and fears.