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Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re in the process of embarking on some type of creative pursuit. It doesn’t have to be a fashion blog, or even any type of blog (this is just what I know best). Perhaps you’re writing a book, opening an Etsy shop, launching a business, developing a product? Whatever your creative endeavour, if you’re in those beginning phases of set-up, then I know you’ve had moments of self doubt. The truth is: the only way to ever see your dream come to life is to manage self doubt.
Sounds kind of like fluff, right? Like something you might read in a cheesy self-help book, but hear me out. (I promise I’m not here to waste your time)
Why you need to manage self doubt
Let me be upfront: learning to manage self doubt isn’t necessarily the key to success, because really, there are so many variables involved in launching any type of business. Hard work being the main one. You obviously can’t believe so strongly that you’ll have success, and then just wait for the dream to come to you. No, you do have to do the work for the dream, but I can tell you from experience, self doubt needs to be crushed before you can even begin to entertain your dream.
Let’s get deeper into this. (Again, this may seem “eye-roll worthy”, but stick with me here and I think you might have one of those “a-ha” moments)
When you’ve started a new path or journey in life, have you ever asked yourself any (or all) of these questions:
Am I wasting my time?
How am I going to make this work?
What are people going to think of me?
Why would anyone want to listen to me?
I don’t have this. I’ll never be that. I can’t make myself like them.
Don’t, can’t, never…I could go on with the negative self-doubt, because, trust me, I’ve been there, and I wish I had an answer for why we all often feel so inadequate and unworthy of pursuing something we’re passionate about.
One thing I do know, though: if you want any chance of seeing your dream come to life, you have to learn to manage self doubt, and you have to do it quickly. I wouldn’t say I’m fully there yet. I still have those moments where I question myself, but I do know I’ve gotten much better with this recently, which is why I’m writing this article for those of you who haven’t figured it out yet. (I’m also kind of convinced nobody ever completely learns to manage self doubt).
So let’s start off with a question…
For all my blogging ladies out there: have you ever read one of those generic “5 things I’ve learned from blogging” posts, or “how to to start a fashion blog” articles? Yeah, I’m sure most of us have, and if you’ve ever written one, chances are, I’ve read it and I probably loved it. This is absolutely not a critique of those articles.
But here’s the issue with these kinds of articles: often, they’re written once that blogger has come out on the other side with some sort of taste of success. Maybe they’ve seen their following grow, they’ve felt engagement from their readers, they’ve written a successful sponsored post. For the most part, a blogger isn’t going to write that kind of article until they’ve had the experience in order to backup up their claims.
And that is exactly why I’m writing this article right now: when I’m in the beginning phases of launching my blog and I haven’t come out on the other side yet. I’m not coming at you as somebody who has had any sort of blogging success. I’m not telling you have to do a, b, and c to get x, y, and z; instead, I’m very simply telling you that you need to get over the big SD (self doubt) to get to S (success). I don’t need the experience in order to tell you that. It’s just obvious, and sometimes, we really just need to hear that from someone else.
And if you’re not in the blogging field, this still applies to you too. Maybe you’ve read a biography by your favourite author, or you’ve listened to a podcast episode by your business hero, or you’ve even just read an inspiring article by someone who has achieved something that you’re in the process of pursuing.
These are all inspiring, motivational, and sometimes helpful forms of entertainment, but that’s all they are: forms of entertainment. I know personally I can go down a rabbit hole of searching for “inspiration,” but really, what I’m actually doing when looking to be inspired is I’m comparing. And we all know how dangerous comparison can be.
So here’s what I want you to do to manage self doubt so you can pursue your dream:
1) Stop searching for inspiration
I know, I know, how awful does that sound? So let me clarify: I’m not saying inspiration is bad (obviously). In fact, inspiration can be one of the most positive influences in our lives, but please, be very honest with yourself. The second inspiration turns to comparison is when the real issues come into play. You’ll know exactly when inspiration turns to comparison, because you’ll feel that little source of positivity that’s been burning in you suddenly get extinguished.
Boom, self doubt floods the body. It’s unmistakable.
Trust me, I’ve felt it more times than I can count. So do me a favour: the second that happens, whatever that source of “inspiration” is, put it away, lock it up, and throw away the key. Or at least until you’re in a better mind set. Focus on what you’re doing. Hustle for your dreams. Stop worrying so much about what other people are doing, and just do you. Okay? Cool.
2) Change your mindset
Ugh, what generic sounding advice… but I can’t not include it, because changing my mindset has been a huge player in getting over my self doubt.
Now, when I say change your mindset, I’m not saying you need to create some cheesy mantra, or go sit in front of your mirror telling yourself you can do this. If that’s all you’re doing, I can pretty much guarantee you will fail. But what I’ve come to realize is self doubt is entirely feed by pity. The second you start pitying yourself is the second that one moment of self doubt turns into an evening of feeling like a worthless lump.
Been there, done that.
You absolutely can not feed into self doubt by feeling bad for yourself. You’ll only start finding all the reasons for why you’re awful, or all the excuses for why you’re not successful, and once you get on a roll, well, it becomes a hell of a lot harder to stop.
Here’s how I’ve changed my mindset. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it really has worked. The second the self doubt enters my mind with a fun comment like “why would anyone want to read a blog by you,” I visually try and push that thought away…
Wow, that sounds corny.
Let me explain that better. As humans, we’re very visual creatures, as I’m sure you know, so when I have a thought that tells me I can’t do something, I literally picture the thought being pushed out of my head like an unwelcome guest. There’s really no way for that not to sound corny, so I apologize, but it really has changed a lot for me. It means, for the most part (when I manage my self doubt, at least), I’m able to stop doubt before the pity party starts. It means I don’t get any further than that initial self doubting thought.
Think of it like this: you’re an addict with a drinking problem. You know this about yourself, and you’re managing the problem. Well, if you find yourself in a bar for some reason, you’re likely going to remove yourself in order to stop anything before it can even happen. It’s the same with your self doubt. We know it’s bad for us, but for whatever reason, those pity parties can be oddly satisfying in the moment. Well, if you remove yourself at the first sign, you’re stopping it before it can continue, just like an alcoholic removing himself/herself before they even take a drink.
Make sense? Try it. It works.
3) Walk Away
Now, unfortunately, we don’t always succeed in changing our mindset and we find ourselves having the dreaded pity party, feeding our self doubt. Does this sound familiar: you’re trying to be creative, you can’t figure out what to do, and then you start self doubting? Yeah? Ok, here’s what you need to do.
The first and most important step is to actually acknowledge the pity party you’re throwing for yourself. It sounds simple, but sometimes we get so wrapped up in feeling bad for ourselves, we probably don’t even realize we’re doing it.
Now that you’re aware of what you’re doing, actively work to solve it. The pity party might feel good right now, but I guarantee it won’t feel good tomorrow when you’ve accomplished nothing and you still feel worthless.
The best and only way for me to get away from a toxic, negative pity party is to actually physically remove myself from whatever situation I’m in. You need to get outside, do a workout, watch your favourite show, go for a walk, just do something that gets you away from your workspace and away from your thoughts.
If Nike has taught us anything, just do it.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told to take a break from something and I don’t listen. As a result, I just become even less productive because I’m so overwhelmed. If you don’t step away from the problem, I promise you, you’re never going to fix it.
Now, obviously when I say problem, I’m talking in terms of a creative problem. If your website just crashed or you’ve noticed a major issue with processing payments for your shop, this is obviously not the time to step away. However, if you’re sitting around being completely useless because you don’t know where to turn, I have a strong feeling a hot shower, cup of tea, and cuddles with your puppy will do you wonders (this is my personal go-to).
4) Read This Book
When it comes to self help books, I’ve read my fair share of ones that have me rolling eyes and wishing I could get my money back.
The only self help book I have ever read that really, truly lit a fire in me was The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
I devoured everything in this book, reading it in less than 24 hours. It’s not full of generic, eye roll worthy “self help”. Rather it gives you a no bs framework for changing your perspective on how you view your world and approach your life.
Plus, as a writer myself, I fully appreciate how well written and easily digestible the content was. It felt like I was just listening to a good (funny) friend give me a little push to get over myself (because yes, most of the time, your own insecurities are all in your head).
Trust me, I’ve read a lot of books, and this is the one that is going to have you feeling like it’s time to get over the self doubt and tackle the world. I know it changed a lot for me, and actually had a real impact on my life. I know if you give it a read, it’ll give you some solid inspiration and motivation too 🙂
<<For my fellow Canadians, read here The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life >>
So, does any of that resonate with you? I hope so!
I’m pretty certain anyone with a creative pursuit and a desire to build something is going to have these moments of self doubt. Like I said, I’m not always able to manage my self doubt (ask my boyfriend, poor guy). But, a mere two hours before writing this article, the self doubt got to me. It sucked, but hey I was able to escape it, and now I’m here writing an 1000 word blog post. Yup, I’m giving myself some props for that, but I’m also trying to show you: if the Queen of Self Doubt can get over herself, so can you.
Let me know, how do you manage self doubt? Any tips always help!
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