How to Overcome Feelings of Unworthiness
Do you ever put off writing – procrastinating, finding something else ‘better’ to do? Or perhaps you start putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and find yourself questioning your qualifications to write your words? Maybe your inner critic starts jabbering or you hear others criticizing or challenging your ideas?
You take ages finessing the final product, anxious all the while or end up aborting your process altogether, never finishing or finding the time to post it up. When the next time comes to write some more words, you find it even harder and so the negative cycle builds until you give up altogether…
This is a common, almost universal problem. Very few people just sit down to write, push out great words, press ‘publish’ and move on to the next task.
Writing, or presenting your ideas using any medium, is a risk and takes guts and heart. It isn’t easy. But like mastering any skill, it gets easier over time if you persist, tame your dragons, and build your confidence.
Here are some ideas to help you do that:
Recognize that nobody knows what they’re doing. Just about everyone suffers from feelings of self-doubt, and thoughts of “Why-on-earth-would-anyone-listen-to-me?” otherwise known as ‘imposter syndrome.’ When you put a piece of work out into the world you are defining yourself as a leader. The quotation, “Leadership has been defined as the ability to hide your panic from others” is very apt at this point. Press on, regardless.
Make it a habit. Creating, whether it be writing, working on a presentation or designing a course, takes time and energy. Inertia can quickly overcome us so design a schedule where you practice your skill daily for a relatively short amount of time, especially when you are learning and building your skill.
Keep to a publishing schedule. If you are publishing work, do it regularly and to a simple timetable. This has two benefits. Your readers come to know it, anticipate it, look forward to it. You demonstrate yourself as a reliable, trustworthy person and this will reflect on your brand image. But more than that, you are propelled to overcome your self-doubt in order to live up to the responsibility you have set. Your commitment to your audience, and your schedule will provide you with the structure to prioritize and organize your time to get your work out on time.
Hold yourself accountable. Even if you aren’t publishing regularly, make a deadline and announce it. Have someone hold you to it.
Keep a testimonial folder. You do keep a testimonial folder don’t you? No? You should. A place where you keep letters, emails, remarks and comments that made you glow when you read them. Compile this folder and review it regularly. Especially when your confidence is low or you need to press on with something you’re procrastinating over.
Positive self-talk. Ask yourself if you would accept the criticism you are giving yourself if you heard a friend saying it. Would you talk to her like you are talking to yourself? Probably the answer to both those questions is ‘No.’ Everytime you heard your inner critic going, shut it down. Remind yourself that you do know what you’re talking about, you do have something valuable to say. And you are going to say it.
Embrace the learning process. Know, and accept that you will make mistakes and frame them as teaching moments in your mind. Observe your incremental progress – maybe you steadily get more readers, positive comments, or invitations to do work elsewhere – to help deaden the noise of setbacks and consider your mistakes as critical feedback to be used to guide your work in the future.
Find a mentor. Getting other people involved in your writing builds the energy and shares the burden around. A mentor can help hold you to a publishing schedule, boost your confidence when you need it, give you ideas and feedback on your writing and check in with you to help keep the ball rolling. If someone offers you help, bite their hand off to take advantage of their support.
Just do it. Ultimately, there is no substitute for just gritting your teeth and getting the job done. You might screw your eyes up with tension as you press the publish button and you may check your statistics or comments or some other measure of success on an obsessive basis at first but that’s normal.
What techniques do you use to overcome a lack of confidence? What have you done in the past? How did it work?