Harness your doubt to improve your confidence

One of the most difficult emotions to deal with is doubt. We love him so much that we would choose to lie to ourselves and pretend. It’s the attraction of pretend until you make it; in a sense, you are making a promise against your doubt, and trying to get more people to believe in you to be stronger than the people who doubt you (including yourself perhaps).

Doubt doesn’t have to be a negative emotion. If there was one important emotion that many successful people shared, it was a feeling of doubt. In fact, we can learn to use our sense of doubt to grow, to become more confident, and to tap into a fountain of creativity that might otherwise be overlooked.

Understanding your doubt is the first step to using it

One of the best examples of the power of doubt is psychologist Daniel Kahneman. As author Michael Lewis writes in The cancellation plan, Kahneman’s doubt is a defining emotion that allows him to go deeper and deeper into his work, a motor of exploration and depth. This was also the root of his collaboration with Amos Tversky.

Lewis writes,

“The whole project, in other words, was rooted in Danny’s doubts about his own work, and his willingness, which was almost an eagerness, to find fault with that work. In their shared hands, Danny’s tendency to seek out his own mistakes became the most fantastical material. Because it’s not just Danny who has made these mistakes: everyone has. It wasn’t just a personal issue; it was a mistake in human nature. At least, that was their suspicion.

Of course, if left unchecked, doubt can dull and drain creative energy as much as it fuels it. We all know moments in our own lives (“Ah, forget it, that was stupid of me to try”), where doubt looms over us and holds us back.

At some point we have to accept that we are no longer in a place where we have to doubt ourselves. After doing the work to dispel doubt, we need to allow our confidence to build. This is where Tversky also provided his own defining emotion to his collaboration with Kahneman: confidence, fearlessness and irreverence.

Confidence comes with effort

There is often a quote attributed to Henry Ford, “Whether you believe you can do something or not, you are right.” Something like that might blow your mind as you watch these other people with their heads held high, confident, relaxed, almost effortlessly doing exactly what you wanted to do.

The reason many of them are able to tap into that confidence is because of the parts you haven’t seen: they’ve spent countless hours, days, weeks, months, even years, practicing and learning it. perfect. They don’t post it on Facebook or Instagram, but they know it’s there. As Mindy Kaling says, “Because trust is like respect; You have to learn it.”

No matter how bold or confident a successful person may seem, you can bet they haven’t started to feel that way. Everyone has butterflies. It’s what you do when you feel the worst, when your stomach hurts, your brain is racing at a mile a minute, you can barely breathe and your knees are shaking. If you decide to stay with him, you will gain the confidence that will make the situation more bearable for the next time.

Learn from others, don’t compete with them

There’s something really fascinating about watching someone else do what you wanted to do. Author Robert Greene explores the idea of ​​mirror neuronsand how we learn by watching:

The natural pattern of learning, largely based on the power of mirror neurons, came from observing and imitating others, then repeating the action over and over again. Our brain is adapted to this form of learning. In an activity like riding a bike, we all know that it’s easier to watch someone and follow their lead than to listen or read instructions.

Watching someone literally go through the motions can not only be educational, but also inspiring. You remember that this task is not so impossible; the person in front of you does it.

No matter how far the goal seems from your current location, it has already been accomplished throughout history, probably by many people, and they are human beings. Just like you and me.

If you’re just stepping out of where you started and doing your first few jobs, you might feel so far removed from your goal that you doubt yourself. But doubt should be pursued as a point of curiosity, not something to be embarrassed about. It should be a starting point for exploration, not confrontation.

It may seem impossible when you first start, and there will be times when it always seems impossible. But you can choose to remain inert or to create even a tiny bit of momentum. The only way to build trust, and believe in yourself, is to try something, learn from it, and start over. If it’s important to you, focus and take the next step with all your effort, no matter how difficult or the odds are.


Herbert Lui is the author of Make creation, a book of 75 prompts that unlock creativity for your job, hobby, or next career. He writes a newsletter that shares three great books every month and is the editorial director of Marvel Shuttle.