How to Work Through Self-Doubt and Transform Your Mindset

September 12, 2018

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As an entrepreneur,, one of the common experiences we are faced with is self-doubt. On any given day, the tendency to ask one’s self “can I do this?” or “am I qualified for this?” can stem from the most mundane to the most complicated of tasks. 


This oscillation between “I can do it” and“No I don’t think so” is deeply ingrained in our mindsets. Much of what we think we understand of our personality comes from our mindset and this can either propel us towards or prevent us from fulfilling our potential.


In the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, she emphasized how having a fixed mindset can hold us back. When we see our intelligence and our learning as “fixed” we tend to: 


  • Avoid challenges
  • Give up easily 
  • See our efforts as futile 
  • Can’t handle criticism 
  • Feel threatened and insecure with the success of others 


How do we flip this narrative? 

How can we face self-doubt that stems from our fixed mindset? 


Our mindsets exist on a continuum from fixed to growth, and ideally we’d like to stay tuned to growth mindsets that allow us to: 

  • Embrace challenges
  • Persist in the face of setbacks
  • See effort as a part of mastery 
  • Learn from criticism
  • Find lessons and inspiration from the experience of others. 


“There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” -Carol Dweck 


Here are simple techniques to get you practicing and embracing a growth mindset: 


A. Awareness- pay attention to your self-talk. What are the common statements that you say about yourself, the way you learn, or the way you do your work? Identifying your responses to these is the first step in addressing your self-doubt and the fixed mindset that is triggering it. To remain in a growth zone, we must identify and work with these triggers. 


Awareness also means being honest with the mindset that you have at that moment. Admitting that you have a fixed mindset around a specific situation gives you the space to acknowledge there is something that can be done about it.


B. Harness the Power of Yet- instead of saying “I can’t do this!” add the word yet and notice how this immediately shifts your perception and how you address the situation. Make it a habit of adding “YET” and this deliberate practice can help you overcome self-doubt triggers.


C. Embrace failing forward- Failure is a word that is often associated with self-doubt. The big tendency for us to play small, keep in our comfort zones, and avoid risks stem from our fear of failure.


In her two decades of research, Dweck discovered that the view you choose to embrace for yourself deeply affects how you live your life. It also affects whether you become who you want to be and whether you achieve what you value. As we flip the narrative that “failure is a proof of our incompetence” to that of “failure are springboards for growth and development” we discourage the internal monologue of constant evaluation and judgment, and constant hunger for approval. We replace it with more compassionate and loving self-talk and openness to possibilities.


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Lana Kristine Jelenjev