On Overcoming Self Doubt And Blogging.

At some point in our lives, we may all confront the challenge of overcoming self doubt while pursuing a goal or project. Doubt often manifests unexpectedly and slowly taints the excitement for our plans and as our passion begins to wane, the crippling fear of failure sets in. Wrestling with self doubt hinders our focus and direction, causing our confidence to steadily decline even if we have invested considerable effort and adequate preparation to ensure our competence. The helplessness from doubt may lead some of us to abandon our goals, while others can regain their motivation and persevere. I personally overcame many moments of doubt while preparing to launch my blog and I discovered first hand why the first step of any journey is often regarded as most difficult to take. Reflecting upon my own personal experience, I believe that doubt does not have to sabotage our efforts but can be a normal pathway to solidifying our passion to succeed.

What is doubt.

Doubt is rooted in our innate human drive for social belonging, which leads us to unconsciously appraise our actions according to socially endorsed values. Even as we possess unique individual motivations for pursuing various goals, the desired outcome of our aim is social acceptance and consumption of the products of our talents. Subsequently, we predict our success by the magnitude that others embrace and validate our endeavours, qualifying their approval and support as a condition of our achievement. Our inability to forecast how others will endorse our pursuits manifests in a fear that they may not embrace our talents, which we define as failure. Even if we are confident in our abilities, we may still doubt our potential success because we cannot predict if others will also perceive us as competent. My sentiments of self doubt manifested as my blog’s launch date drew closer and I began to anticipate the response from the public. As we start to visualize our desired outcome, we suddenly find ourselves wavering between the excitement that others will endorse our efforts and the fear that we may be rejected. I discovered that the following practices were useful in diminishing my sense of self doubt.

  1. Redefine success: passion is your best currency.

I believe that biggest trap for self doubt is defining our success by “measured outcomes” that depend on how others assess of our efforts due to it’s potential to undermine our passion. If others do not validate our performance in the ‘magnitude’ that we expect, we become doubtful, which may distract us from improving our craft. However, maintaining the intensity of our passion will gradually yield measured success because passion boosts confidence, determination and creativity. If anticipating the outcome of our endeavours causes doubt, we should deliberately refocus our thoughts on the positive ‘rationales’ for our pursuit. This is an exercise that rejuvenates the excitement for our goal, enhances our passion and motivates us to move forward. The impact of shifting our focus towards our desire is akin to the analogy of pouring a greater amount of clean water into a small amount of cloudy water, where the overall gradient changes in favour of the clean water. When I experienced doubt prior to launching my blog, I intentionally counteracted each fearful thought with three supporting sentiments for blogging; focusing on my motives shifted my attention in favour of my goal and mobilized me into action. I recommend continuously engaging in the details/art of your craft such that you remain focused on what is enjoyable and positive about your efforts, whereby joy is the best remedy for doubt. Depleting the excitement for our undertaking is a magnet for doubt and the absolute killer of success. Many people are pursuing endeavours with diminished passion and enjoyment because they are chasing measured success and remain perplexed that they aren’t achieving it. It is passion that enables us to invest the hard work necessary to succeed and helps us to remain possibility focused when we confront set backs.

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I correlated the importance of passion with success because I blog through inspiration; my ideas are the only platform of my pursuit and passion is the source that my thoughts stem from. I do not utilize any numerical standards as a basis of my success because this could potentially undermine my ambition and subsequently my ability to generate the very substance of my blog. I define my success only by my continued creative potential and interestingly, as I become more passionate, I discover greater insight and awareness for my posts. Therefore, it’s beneficial to ‘initially’ focus less on traditional measurements of success to lessen doubt and boost our passion/performance.

  1. Success doesn’t imply perfection.

Our expectation is an important predictor of self doubt because it determines how we respond to the elements that are out of our control. One will experience greater sentiments of doubt if they expect their pursuit to proceed perfectly because they may prematurely misinterpret a setback as failure. Rather, if we expect that success is a growth process, we will remain hopeful of our potential and anticipate that we have room for improvement. The assumption that any task will unfold seamlessly leads us to become insecure if perfection does not manifest and our declining confidence incites doubtfulness. More so, it is the expectation of perfection that causes us to presume that unfavourable incidents will impede our overall outcome, an assumption that heightens our fear of failure. This is because perfection implies that there is only one potential outcome for each event, causing us to feel defeated if things do not go as we hoped. I personally fought the temptation of foreshadowing the worst-case scenario a few days before launching my blog, when an entire set of blog pictures were erased from my camera. It would have been easy to misinterpret this mishap as a reason to doubt the caliber of my scheduled posts, but I distracted myself by writing and completed another shoot the following day.  Accepting that a given process will have peaks and valleys strengthens our resolve to persevere beyond the difficulties that we encounter along the way. More so, challenges typically offer insights and lessons that we can use to enhance our subsequent attempts.

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A critical component of relinquishing perfection is recognizing that we will naturally have phases where we become doubtful and experience reduced passion. We must anticipate this as a normal aspect of our journey so it does not entirely discourage us to give up. If we shouldn’t expect the process to be perfect, then we cannot expect perfection of ourselves. However as my parents always cautioned “it’s not whether a bird lands on a tree but if it builds a nest”.  I do not recommend lingering in a demotivated state, rather we should muster the drive to persevere by investing our energy in activities that deepen our passion. Another beneficial practice that lessened my moments of doubt was drawing on my support system for encouragement.

Success is not a one person show.

No one is an island, therefore we must draw on the assets of others who are rooting for our success, where in my case blogging has blossomed into a family affair. Our limited perspective about certain aspects of our goal contributes to self doubt and our support system can be a great litmus to gauge reservations that we are unable to independently rationalize. When I encounter uncertainties about any component of my blog, I have difficulty “thinking it out” on my own but I’m able to get a better grasp of the issue after discussing my ideas/thoughts with my family. I am constantly picking my family’s brain about topics, pictures and their personal experience, where their honest feedback helps to refine my clarity and confidence. If your reservations stem from a lack of expertise, then invest in research and learning opportunities and seek out positive and willing mentors that can guide you. Even the critical opinions of those  we trust can also lessen our sense of doubt by allowing us to gain a broader perspective in a reassuring context. Hence, embrace vulnerability with your support system by being open and honest about the nature of your doubt, so they can offer the neutrality that you need to rationalize your worries. I am also grateful for my family’s support during those moments when I need motivation to believe in the value of my undertaking.

We often doubt our efforts because we are our own worst critics and it’s valuable to have people around us who strive to build you up when you’re knocking ourselves down. We can never get too many pep talks and the encouragement from my husband and children always seem to jolt my passion for blogging when I’m feeling demotivated. The encouraging words of others highlight the positive aspects of our efforts when we are erroneously too focused on what’s amiss. Ironically, my family typically conveys the same constructive sentiments to me that I have offered them on other occasions, proving that we can benefit from the perspective of others even if we already possess the same awareness. We must be grateful to those who love us enough to support us, reinforcing our faith in the good that we are doing. As we are lifted by the encouragement of others, it highlights the value of reciprocating this positivity to others in their time of demotivation.

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I hope that these recommendations will be useful to you as you encounter inevitable moments of doubt while pursuing your goal. If you have committed the dedication to leap into your venture, then you must continually strive to believe in the beauty of your efforts/goal because this is the only worthy measurement of your success. Subsequently, the most decisive determinant of one’s success and deterrent of doubt is the rationale for pursuing your goals. I believe that we only succeed in those projects that we pursue out of passion and love. It is highly unlikely to prosper in an undertaking that you are doing solely to please others, for money or out of fear.

Check out  Steeping Joy on Facebook to read more of my thoughts on utilizing emotional mindfulness as an asset to manifesting your desires.

Which other principles have helped you to overcome self doubt? What recommendation would you add to this list?

XO

Ini Anana

“Steeping joy, brewed with all that life has to offer”

Enabling Older Children To Experience Personal Failure: How It Helps Them Win.

“There are two lasting gifts we can hope to give our children, one is roots; the other, wings.”–Hodding Carter Jr.


“What’s the point of being on the best team, if you don’t get to play as much…I’m just going to stay put and improve myself with this team”. When my son made those remarks a few days ago, it immediately gave me the incentive to write this post. He was responding to rumors that several of his teammates plan to leave to another team that has a better chance of advancing to the U16 Nationals soccer tournament. As you can imagine I was impressed by his insightful and mature reasoning, yet two years ago, I would not have envisioned his ability to display such logic. That’s because two years ago, he himself was bouncing from club to club determined to be on the best team. He insisted on this pursuit against my rational persuasion but I realized that it was an opportunity to grant him greater ownership of decisions that ultimately only affected him. So, I dared to allow him to fail, because I recognized that it was the only means for him to learn certain important life lessons. And fail he did, after making one of the top club soccer teams during the outdoor season, he was subsequently cut from the roster when the team accepted fewer players during the indoor season. My boy was heartbroken and it was the type of sadness that us parents never enjoy seeing in our children. I scrutinized my decision to allow him to leave his former team as we now faced the prospects of him missing an entire indoor season. Yet, my son’s gradual growth from such scenarios confirms that the teenage years is an appropriate time for parents to give their children wings to navigate some of their own decision making that may cause personal failure. My classification of failure does not refer to a child’s sense of personal hopelessness about circumstances that are out of their control. It is our job as parents during such occasions to take all necessary steps to restore our children’s confidence and positive outlook. Rather I am defining failure as the repercussions in personal matters that the child is inherently more invested in than the parents. Empowering my son to make choices where there’s a potential of failure enables him to learn important life lessons about perseverance, self reflection and personal accountability.

The sky is never really falling.

After he was released from that team, my son did not know how he was going to live if he couldn’t play soccer and he felt more helpless because he burned bridges with his former team. The spoiler alert is that he did not miss that indoor season and made it onto another  club team but not without learning the intricacies of determination. The most critical component of perseverance is establishing your next desired outcome and I recall asking my son “do you want to play soccer” to which he of course said yes. Once he affirmed his intention to play, I then encouraged him to only focus on brainstorming how to bring this to fruition. In other facets of life, we must also employ this same intentional mindset as we decide to move forwards after unforeseen setbacks. It didn’t take long for him to recall that one of his previous teammates had joined the team half way through the season after asking to attend a couple practices. We did not know that coaches often choose to keep a smaller roster for this very reason and so I began sending out emails to several teams requesting for my son to attend a practice with a prospect of being brought onto the team. The approach worked and he found a new team. As we continued to discuss the lessons from this event, he understood that there’s always a way to move forward and interestingly came to the most profound conclusion, stating “mom I feel sorry for kids who have to feel like for the first time when they are older with something that’s really important”. Yes, HE said those words and it was the biggest reassurance that I am making the right choice in giving him more freedom to experience failure. As they mature into adults we would all want our children not give up after rejection and  it’s beneficial for them to become familiar with how to create possibilities after failure while they are still young.

Reflecting on what went wrong.

Learning from mistakes has proven to be a meaningful occasion to help my son develop insight about his choices; our follow up discussions provides him a safe landing place as we utilize his new awareness to improve his outlook on life. Once he was accepted onto another team, I asked my son how he felt about his decision to hop teams in the first place. He explained that he sincerely thought that being on a better team would make him a better player. However, being one of the more novice players on the team (at that time) he received less playing time and became more tentative during game situations, which may have contributed to his subsequent release. He later admitted that as a relatively new club player, it would have been preferable for him to remain on a team focused on player development than winning. I honestly do not believe he would have gained this insight without the fallout from his attempt to seek greener grass elsewhere. We often do not recognize the tunnel vision of our goal setting motives until we discover the multiple influences that impact our desired outcome. Previously, I could not convince my son that becoming a great soccer player entailed more than being on the best team but he gained that insight independently after his expectations were not met. As we continued to talk about this experience, I explained that its important to consider the various factors of each option in any decision and we are now in the habit of creating a pros and cons list in these situations. Hindsight is 20/20 but insight also offers us a broad viewpoint and I am beginning to see proof of my son’s ability to understand his role and responsibility in creating favourable conditions for his own success.

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Been there, done that.

I asked my son why he doesn’t feel tempted like some of his teammates to leave his current team and he responded “because I’ve already been there and done that”. He followed up with an explanation that at his age division most teams have been cohesive for many years and are loyal to their players. Therefore, even if a team expands their roster during the upcoming outdoor season, they would likely release new players before their veterans going forward. If you have children in sports then you may be familiar with the politics of player loyalty, which is a discussion that’s beyond the scope of this post. What I find commendable about my son’s current outlook is his desire not to potentially repeat the same mistakes as before. He knows what it feels like to regret a choice and feels responsible to avoid the same outcome. Failure helps us to become accountable by making us aware of what to do differently to avoid similar set backs. Of course, there is a balancing act of also recognizing when it’s appropriate to step out of our comfort zone and take new risks that challenge us and enable us to thrive. I believe that one’s motivation for pursuing or abstaining from certain goals typically reveals whether it is the prudent choice. And in his case, his motives for remaining on his current team enhances his self development more than the alternative. From bad relationships, wrong career choices to poor judgement of character, we often learn to do better going forward after we understand where we went wrong and enabling older children to implement this skill will be valuable to them as they get older.

Allowing our children to fail is difficult because it contradicts our innate parenting instinct, which desires the very best for our children. Yet success is a continuous journey of getting up after we fall and it is important for children to develop this ability while they are gaining a greater sense of identity as teenagers. If one insists on keeping all the balls in the air for our older children, they will indeed succeed in those moments but unless we plan to micro manage them forever, we must eventually allow our children to experience disappointment and help them to grow from it.

How are you navigating the domain of allowing your older children to make choices that may disappoint them? Is it easy or challenging? I would love to hear about your experiences.

XO

Ini A.

“Steeping joy, brewed with all that life has to offer”