Self-doubts? What are they? Where do they come from? What makes them so tricky to overcome? And what might be a way to keep moving towards your goals? How can we overcome them? Is that even possible?

That is a lot of questions to start with. So, where do I begin?

I believe we all have self-doubts — some more, some less, depending on the situation and the task.

There is a wonderful graph that depicts the comfort, growth, and the panic zone of learning to deal with new situations. And of course, where we are at is completely unique and individual for each one of us. It is also dynamic, depending on how we choose to lead our lives and how we are intentionally growing ourselves.

So, when do the self-doubts come in?

It usually creeps in at the border of our comfort zone. It starts with small phrases in our heads such as, “Are you sure you want the responsibility for this new project? Is it possible to learn another language? Aren’t you a bit too old for that?”

At first, they are quite small and then, the more you approach the panic zone, meaning the more you push the speed at which you’re learning and evolving, the bigger these doubts become. As in, “I cannot do this. I have never done anything like this before nor has anyone in my family, so, who am I to even think of this? I am in no way good/qualified/experienced/old/XYZ enough to be doing this.”

In yoga and a few other schools of thought, self-doubts are the voices of the ego, of our fears, and of our limbic system that wants to keep us safe. And that is all just perfectly normal.

It’s very human to be scared of the unknown, of social ostracism, of rejection, etc. However, listening to those voices and acting accordingly also keeps us in our current box. It’s the sum of all strategies that got us to where we are now but will keep us from growing further if we don’t look at them.

And to be fair, not looking at them might work for a while. You can still achieve a lot of your goals while being scared and doubtful à la “fake it ‘til you make it.” Nonetheless, in the long run, this is proven to be very stressful and detrimental to your holistic wellbeing.

One thrown-around strategy of “dealing” with those thoughts would be to rationalize them, picture the worst-case scenario, and thereby get rid of the associated fear. What I have found though is that, like in a computer game, once you’re done with one level, the next levels just get progressively harder to play.

So, it seems like those voices keep changing and growing with you, and there is always one more fear or self-doubt popping up the further you get along. And it might seem like you can never really overcome the deep underlying issue of the doubts itself.

To be honest, to me personally, this thought of just continuing to question and rationalize them felt very sad and strenuous. Hence, I went looking for a new and potentially kinder solution, and what I found was incredibly effective.

I discovered a framework that makes all the difference. Imagine our self-doubts that keep saying, “You are not good enough,” like our most ancient and animalistic parts of us that just want to protect our most vulnerable sides – so basically, like very vicious, big, hairy dogs that are also loyal as hell but start barking at every new movement or person in your life.

Wow. To be honest, that’s kind of cool. I’ve wanted a dog for a long time. No, in earnest, it made it so much easier for me to then ask “Hey, what do you need to be quiet and feel like you’ve fulfilled your job, doggy?”

The answer that came was surprisingly simple: Just some tender loving care and reassurance. Some easy, “Hey, you are seen, heard, and valued for what you do for me. Thank you, you can go now. I can deal with this.”

With this, I realized that maybe it isn’t about overcoming them at all, but about giving them our fullest and curious attention and loving them until death do us part (in whatever way that may come about).

So, in conclusion, I hope you’ve got some fresh ideas out of this or even new 4-legged friends that you get to cuddle!