By: Erin Wellman
self-doubt /ˈˌself ˈdout/ noun - lack of confidence in oneself and one's abilities.
I'm not good enough. I don't belong. I don't matter. I messed up. Have you ever had thoughts like this? I believe everyone experiences self-doubt to some degree and it shows up in different ways. Self-doubt can appear any time. When you have to make a decision, are in front of others while giving a presentation, or when you're in a vulnerable position.
Often times my self-doubt comes because my thoughts and feelings are tied to my performance or what others think about me. I was a competing athlete for almost 20 years. I would base how I was doing off of how well I did in the games. I thought that if I performed really well, people would think highly of me. If I didn't have a good game, then I thought people would think less of me. Because of this thought process, I would have self-doubt and replay the game and how people responded to my contribution to the game over and over again in my head. Could I have done something better? What did my coaches and teammates think of me? Did my dad see that awesome (or not so awesome) play? What did he think about it or me?
The reality is, this was probably true. Some people probably did think of who I was based on what I did. Sports in general brings out some of the best and worst in people. But the point is, I was basing my self worth off of how I performed or what others thought of me through my performance. Now that I'm done competing in sports, I can still catch myself finding my worth in what I am doing or the results of the projects I'm working on.
I do admit that when I live with my self-worth being tied to my performance, I live a roller coaster life. Up one day and feeling good about myself and the next day down. My self-doubt creeps in in the blink of an eye.
I work for a Christian organization called Athletes in Action, located here in Xenia. In AIA, we share with student athletes how they can have a relationship with Jesus and how they can live the life God has planned for them. We often talk about self-worth and identity, using two formulas for your self-worth.
The World's Formula For You Worth = Your Performance + Other's Opinions
Our issue with our worth didn't come out of nowhere. Unfortunately, we were doomed from the beginning. I have 3 little kids at home. Every time they do something new, such as take their first steps, we praise them. They are taught early to live off of that praise and expect it every time they take a step. Once they got the walking thing mastered, they began to look for praise when they were potty training, and so on. At a very early age, our worth gets tied to our performance.
But what we want to begin to understand is:
God's Formula For Your Worth = What God Says About You
That's it. Simple right? When I get insecure and have self-doubt because of something I have done (or not done), I have to remember that I don't need to be stuck in that place. I can be secure in what God says is true about me. I don't need to care about what others think of me or how well I did. I am able to cling to the many truths about who God says I am.
So maybe you get suck in the world's view of who you are and what your worth is. Maybe you have self-doubt because you are always worried about how well you did something or what other people think about you. Hear me say, it's important to do things to the best of your ability. You probably do have to "please your boss" or others because we live in a world where performance does matter. It isn't bad to have motivations that help you "succeed". But what I want to make sure we don't confuse is that if those are your primary motivations and that is where you are trying to receive your self-worth, you will live that roller coaster of a life.
Here are a few things that I have found helpful in getting unstuck.
1. Identify the situation that has you leading to self-doubt. We are typically our own worst critic and can be hard on ourselves. If we can identify what is making us feel a certain way, we can address the patterns that can cause us to get stuck over and over again.
2. Invite other people into the situation. It is important to share how you're feeling about yourself and what you can tend to believe about yourself. Do you have a consistent group of people you know and who know you? Maybe you could find a class at the Y where a small community could surround you and speak truth into your life.
3. Look into what God says is true about you. If you don't have a personal relationship with Jesus but want to know what that is like, ask someone who does. And if you don't know of anybody, email me and we'll connect. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Are you interested in finding a community of people who want to help you be confident in who you are? Check out https://www.daytonymca.org/our-mission-0 to see the mission of the YMCA. They want to help and be a resource to connect you to be the best you you can be.