By Ron Pereira
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)
Have you ever struggled with self-doubt? Most of us, if we’re being honest, have. I know I have.
But, over the years, I’ve been able to overcome much of the doubt I’ve faced. Now, to be clear, I am far from perfect and have MANY flaws. But, facing uncertainty, or new challenges, rarely ever scares me anymore. In fact, I love new challenges which is one of the reasons Intentional Encounter was born!
And, it’s been my experience – both personally and professionally – that self-doubt just may be one of the most paralyzing feelings a person can experience.
Just over the past few weeks I’ve heard different people tell me how they can’t do push-ups, couldn’t ever give up sugar, and wouldn’t ever be able to start their own business.
Now these are good, successful, people. But, for whatever reason, they’re sometimes paralyzed by self-doubt. And, sadly, this paralyzation often means these folks never take action or push the limits to what they believe they can accomplish.
So, what I hope to do in the article is share a few tips that have helped me overcome self-doubt. Again, I’m still a work in progress and have many limitations. So, this article is for me as well.
A few years ago I had to make a huge decision. I needed to decide if I should I leave an executive leadership position at the company I worked at in order to become the first full-time employee of the start-up I was also involved in.
It was nerve racking… and I was experiencing plenty of self-doubt since I had a wife and kids to support. What if I failed? How would I support my family?
Now, from a business perspective, the company I helped co-found was doing well. We had enough money in the bank to pay me for 4 months if we never sold anything and my wife and I had prepared our own personal finances accordingly. So while this helped… there were so many other things to worry about like health insurance, which I’d have to pay on my own if I left my day job.
My wife and I obviously talked about it and were in agreement that the time was right. But, man, it was still scary.
So, one afternoon, I drove to my parish and decided to bring it to our Lord in prayer. I sat in that long pew in silent prayer.
Now, I didn’t hear God whispering instructions or career advice to me. But, what I did experience was incredible peace. I also experienced a rush of confidence and belief that I could, and would, be successful. So, after an hour with our Lord I was ready.
A few weeks later I gave my notice and took the leap into full-blown entrepreneurship and, thanks be to God, our little company now employs 13 full time employees and I’ve never looked back.
So, the key take away is to always bring your concerns, and any self-doubt you’re experiencing, to our Lord and Our Lady in prayer.
2: Remove The Word “Can’t” From Your Vocabulary
Next, the word can’t is what self-doubt feeds on. In fact, I’m quite certain Satan also loves it when we use this word.
Tony Horton, the founder of P90X, has some incredible advice when it comes to the nasty can’t word.
He advises people who say they can’t do something like pull-ups, or push-ups, or really anything to quit saying they can’t. Instead, they should say they presently struggle with it.
So, instead of saying you can’t do push-ups you’d say, “I presently struggle doing push-ups.” Or, instead of saying you can’t read the entire Bible you’d say, “I presently struggle reading the entire Bible.” Or instead of saying you can’t start that business on the side you’d say I presently struggle starting that business on the side.
The reason this change in vocabulary is so important is saying you can’t basically assumes you won’t and that you’re not willing to at least try.
But, when we say we presently struggle we’re admitting it’s a challenge, which is totally fine, but we’re also leaving ourselves open to the opportunity to try.
So, the key take away is instead of saying you can’t do something… say you presently struggle with it.
3: Persevere & Don’t Ever Give Up
When my daughter was first learning to play soccer she was pretty bad… hard to watch if we’re being honest.
In fact, during her first year on the mighty “Little Angels” she was the only kid on the team to not score a goal. Oh, and there were only 6 kids on the team and they played 3 versus 3. Put another way, it was hard to go an entire season and not score a single goal!
But, my wife and I kept encouraging her and she came back out and tried again the next season.
That season started much like the previous one ended… she wasn’t scoring but she kept trying.
Then, the craziest phone call I ever received came in. My awesome sister-in-law, Kristen, brought our daughter to one of her games since my wife and I had a conflict and couldn’t bring her.
We were curious to hear how the game was going so we called Kristen. When she answered she told us that our daughter had scored around 10 goals and the coach had to take her out of the game since they didn’t want to run the score up.
My wife and I had a good laugh and told Kristen to be serious and tell us how she was really doing.
Kristen told us, “I am being serious. She’s on fire and scoring at will!”
To say we were blown away is the understatement of the century. Our daughter quickly became the best player on her team and, to this day, is a fantastic little select soccer player in addition to being a great kid who loves Jesus and His Mother with all her heart.
But, the only reason she was able to succeed was because she persevered and learned to believe in herself. Sure, there was some figuring out of the game involved… but the only way she was able to figure it out was to not quit.
My other kids also remind me of how important perseverance is… whether it’s learning to get their back walkover or learning to multiply they keep trying and, eventually, succeed.
In fact, if I only teach my kids two things I pray it’s 1) to always practice their Catholic faith and 2) to never give up when learning new things!
So, the key take away is to persevere and never quit trying even though self-doubt tells you that you’re no good and are going to fail. Don’t listen!
4: Avoid Toxic People
Next, if you’re surrounded by people who constantly bring you down… constantly complain… constantly moan and groan about how bad, and unfair, the world is you should do everything you can to avoid them.
Now, if these people happen to be family members who you can’t avoid you should have a real heart to heart with them and explain that you’d really appreciate it if they could stop being so negative… at least around you.
And, once you’re spending less time with negative people it’s extremely important to seek out positive, like-minded, folks who will build you up and encourage you.
I belong to a few different Catholic mens groups and I can’t tell you how important they are to me. There’s nothing better than to share your struggles with other like minded men (or women if you’re a woman).
So, the key take away is to avoid negative, energy sucking, people if at all possible and begin to spend more time with like minded folks who share your same values and dreams.
5: Believe in Yourself
A week or so ago I was having a rather heated conversation with a work associate. We were talking about a new project that’s going to really push the limits. In fact, we’ve never done anything like what we’re thinking about trying… but I was supremely confident we could do it.
My work associate, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure. Don’t get me wrong, this guy is fantastic and VERY good at what he does… but, alas, self-doubt was eating away at him.
Well, as were talking I looked up and saw my screen saver running… it read “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and I immediately experienced the same peace and confidence I felt years ago while sitting alone, in church, talking to our Lord about my career situation.
After seeing this I relaxed and continued to talk things through and my confidence and assurance that it was safe to fail as we worked through the kinks eventually helped my colleague come around and kick his self-doubt to the curb.
You see, I truly believe, with all my heart, that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Of course, this doesn’t mean I’ll immediately be successful, or that I won’t have to pivot a few times when things aren’t working out, but I won’t quit and I won’t stop believing.
So, the key take away is to believe in yourself. You are most definitely made for greatness!
Final Words of Advice
Hopefully these 5 steps will help you the next time you’re facing self-doubt in any area of your life.
Now, we’re obviously partially focused on clean eating and exercise here at Intentional Encounter so if self-doubt is holding you back from making improvements in those areas… please, I beg you, don’t let it.
God loves you and wants you to be the best you can be. He truly does.
So, to conclude, I’d like this leave you with these words from the Gospel of St. John… my emphasis added.
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
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