Defeating the Doubt Gremlins

“No matter how successful you are, you will still have the voice of doubt running around. You’ve got to shut her up, because she is not accurate.” – Honoree Corder

I love this quote, and I struggle with it at the same time. I mean, what if I CAN’T shut her up?? What the heck do I do then? I bump into this in between my own two ears, and my clients do, too. 

Doubt says “I don’t know if I can do this.”

The insidious nature of doubt is that it often begins as just a tiny trickle. There’s a teensy bit of it that creeps in, and over time it grows and grows, carving deeper grooves and allowing for more doubt to come through. Next thing you know, bam! Those doubt gremlins have a wayyyyyy louder voice in your head than you actually want them to.

For those times when I can’t quite get that voice of doubt to shut it completely, I do this:

  • Start by becoming aware of your doubts. For one day, pay close attention to what’s going through your head, particularly as it relates to goals you want to achieve. Keep a tally of every time a doubting thought pops up. You don’t have to do anything else, just keep track. At the end of the day, check out how many times this feeling of doubt trickled in. 
  • Next, I write down all the things that doubtful voice is saying, and then I go through them one by one, asking, “Is this true? Is it really true? Do I want to continue thinking it?”
  • I often find I’m ready to discard the majority of the thoughts, and then it becomes a matter of reminding myself I no longer want to continue thinking those thoughts! I will often choose a phrase to help me remember just that when they crop up. Some of my favorites are:
    • Nope!
    • Not thinking that way today
    • I hear you, and I discard you
    • Not today, Satan! (I like to use that when I’m REALLY frustrated & it’s a particularly “sticky” thought)
  • For ones that do bear some further investigation, this is where I grab my journal or call up my own coach. What’s really behind each thought? Is there truth there? Are there action steps I need to take? Moving this onto paper or out of my mouth helps me make sure I’m doing the processing necessary to move past these thoughts or at least figure out how to work with them and what I can learn from them.
  • Lastly, I’ve also found it helpful to generate some “companion thoughts” to add to the mix when these little doubt gremlins rear their heads. This means that I recognize the negative or doubtful thought, and then I quickly add in a “companion thought” that goes along with it. So, yes, I may be thinking “No one will ever want me to speak to their group!”, and then I can also add in, “I’ve been asked to speak before, and I trust I have good messaging.” It’s not so much about getting rid of the doubt-based thought, but it’s also adding info into the other side of the equation. 

This work helps me build some awareness of what’s happening in my mindset. No self-judgment, no attaching meaning to any of this, just pure awareness. While these exercises won’t make any of those doubtful thoughts go away immediately, they will give you some ways to deal with them. And maybe even banish them for good! 

- Nicole



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