Overcoming Self-Doubt? Should You Do That?

If you are thinking about self-doubt, consider the possibility that the proliferation of “Overcome Self-Doubt” help guides online may be due to a general lack of problem solving skills. Might this epidemic of self-doubt result from a growing society-wide inability to process information to get answers?

Overcoming Sitting In A Car

If you have a doubt, a self-doubt or any doubt, that is a beginning. Having a doubt is like getting in a car when you want to go somewhere. What if you get in and then just sit there? What if then someone tells you to overcome being in a car, that your problem is being in this car, see. But, gee, you really wanted to drive somewhere. Nevermind that. You are in this car, and that is not  where you want to be, so you should overcome it, because it is hurting your self esteem, clearly. Don’t you feel stupid just sitting in this car?

Does Anyone Overcoming Driving? No.

Do you get the point? I hope so. You do not “overcome” self-doubt because all doubt is part of the natural thinking process that happens when you are processing information to make decisions. Each time the information can be different. You do need to learn how to drive. Step by step, you turn the key, start the engine, look around, shift gears, press on the gas, and navigate to your destination. You never “overcome” driving! It’s a process, a case-by-case interaction with the world that is different each time you get behind the wheel.

You learn what to do in example situations, you practice these common situations, like merging, parking, and so on. After a while you build up confidence. Accidents still happen, however. Accidents of thinking happen too. We call these logical fallacies and they are as common as traffic accidents.

Confidence vs Correctness

A key point I want to help you understand is that we seek and admire people who show great confidence in their words, decisions and thoughts. Confidence, that resolute look, clear strong voice, and sometimes passionate fervor, these are social cues, signals that we have learned to generally trust. They indicate that this person knows, is in this moment, a leader with the right answer. (This probably goes back to our ancient history. If someone saw a saber toothed tiger, they were not going to be wishy washy about it. “Cat, BIG cat, fangs, OVER THERE! RAAAEWWEERRE!,” they say. You instantly think, “Okay, I believe!”)

Unearned Confidence

But unfortunately, being clever, we learned to act confident to get the social rewards without having the goods to back us up. Overcoming self-doubt is an idea that you just have to be more confident, then you will be right about the thing you are saying. This is a logical fallacy, it is false, part of a society perpetuating delusion.

Do not try to be confident. Try to be correct. To be right, you need to look at your doubts, consider the facts, figure out what is missing, then ask key questions. Consider the sources, what the options are, gather more data if needed, then discuss and debate if needed, until you either get to an answer you feel genuinely and naturally confident about, or until you get to a point where you understand that no answer is available at this time, for this and that reason.

Acknowledging ambiguity is not self-doubt, is rational mental behavior.

That’s basically “how to drive” with regard to problem solving, but you will need a lot of practice.

Re-frame Self-Doubt

I hope this will help someone understand the true nature of self-doubt and to re-frame the discomfort it causes as the signal to work out the particular problem about which you have self-doubt. You will then likely overcome “A self doubt,” but not all self-doubt. Get used to self-doubt, see it as a good thing. It means you are alive and that you have a working mind. It means that there is an unsolved problem or an unanswered question.

Evaluate the facts. Be confident when you have a good reason to be, but keep in mind that any of us can at times feel 100% certain and also be 100% wrong. Keep at it, consider new information, and be curious. Understand where past information lead you to the wrong conclusion and adjust as needed.

You can develop confidence in your ability, over time, to take on and navigate most new self-doubts with the right tools.

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