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To read the first piece in this two-part series on the impact of second-guessing and how to build confidence in decision-making, click here.

Self-doubt builds momentum

It is dangerously easy to fall into the trap of self-doubt.

It all starts with a couple of thoughts. Then, fuelled with enough emotion, you start to believe that you are inadequate, not good enough, not smart enough. You are continually searching for reassurance from your external environment.

You may find yourself in a loop of repeating patterns of replaying the past. These are negative incidents that no longer serve you, that carry an unpleasant outcome and make you feel negative about yourself.

So, before going down that rabbit hole, become more conscious of your self-doubts, your second-guessing or your continuous worry about what others think of you. All that does is build the muscle of more uncertainty and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.

Ultimately, these small actions build up into big problems that prevent you from believing in yourself. Then, this self-doubt builds momentum by creeping into every area of your life, business and relationships.

Your brain works in two modes – growth and protection. However, it can’t be in both. When we are self-doubting or second-guessing ourselves, the brain gets stuck not knowing which road to travel.

Learn to trust yourself

Make strong decisions. Don’t second-guess yourself. If you feel that it is the right thing, then go with your intuition. Your gut is always right.

The thing here is to recognise when you are feeling stuck in making a decision. Ask yourself this:

  • What is making me be puzzled about making the decision?
  • What is going on in my mind?
  • What am I really feeling?

Our brain thrives on certainty and safety. Consequently, when there is a level of uncertainty, this can become troubling for some people.

So, what do we do about it?

Knowledge is power. The more awareness one has, the more insight and, therefore, power.

Thus, it is key to gather as much information as possible to move your brain into feeling a little bit safer about you making your decision. The more data and the more facts, the more successful you will be at trusting yourself to move forward with a decision.

Write down the costs and benefits as you collect your data, the consequence and your pros and cons list.

Curiosity is key

Experiment and be curious in your approach. Have a wondering mind. Don’t get stuck in overprocessing, overthinking and overanalysing.

The more curious the mind, the further forward thinking. This allows us to be more inquisitive, explorative and test the new ways of doing things. Hence why new doors open for us.

Navigate uncertainty with curiosity, deal with what comes up in the present moment and be more conscious where, when and how you are second-guessing yourself.

A negative element to consider when you second-guess yourself is that it prevents you from fully committing to a decision or action because of fear of failure, which is a result of shame or embarrassment.

One way that I deal with this kind of fear is bringing it to the surface.

I have a good laugh about it to the point where I imagine what could be the most awkward, exasperating and worrisome situation that could unfold before my very eyes. If I can bring some humour to it and even talk about it, I loosen the boundaries of the fear altogether.

It no longer has power over me.

Rewire your brain for self-compassion

Compassion is the ultimate expression of your highset self.

To do a daily practice of self-compassion through meditation, mindfulness and being present with your thoughts, feelings and experiences is to become the observer of them. In doing so, you must sit there with absolutely no judgment.

Neuroscience tells us that neuroplasticity is the ability to change the structure and function of our brain. In other words, we have the power to rewire our brain, change the way we think and feel.

How does this happen?

Well, neurons that fire together, wire together. It goes back to the start of this article. Once we can be conscious of our thoughts and change them instead of fuelling them with our emotions, we can change our experience.

There have been so many experiments that show how we can change the meaning of a past event in a present moment. We can change the chain reaction from our past and, therefore, change our present and our future.

Second-guessing just creates unnecessary stress, anxiety and a serious impact on our associations and the meanings we give to life, love, career and self.

Compassion, curiosity and confidence, on the other hand, enable us to trust our choices and move forward with courage.

The Dalai Lama said it best: ‘Compassion is the radicalism of our time.’