Are you completely assured of who you are and your place in the world? Do you live your life knowing that the choices you have made, positions you have gained, things you have accomplished are all because you are good at what you do, talented and deserving? Well, if you have answered yes to any of these questions or heaven forbid all of these questions, then you are way ahead of me and many others. As I have gotten older, met more people and experienced life more, I have come to realise that many, if not most of the people I meet, experience some form of self doubt. I am not sure whether this is the confidence of youth being replaced by the realities of life, or if it is just that you don't delve that deep and notice these things about others when you are younger. But as I have travelled through my 30's and into my 40's I have become more aware of this in myself and those around me.
Mental illness certainly comes in to play with this for some people. My life has an array of people with various clinically diagnosed illness's of this type and many of them suffer from doubts and anxiety. However, for the vast majority of us, it is not clinical mental illness, but merely something we struggle with on a daily basis. Something that confronts us when we risk failure or when we achieve something and immediately refuse to believe it can be true. In a recent article from Psychology Today Karyl McBride notes:
Molly, age 38, recalls how she felt right after receiving her Ph.D.: "I actually wrote that damn dissertation, but believe me, I won't ever let anyone read it. I don't want anyone to see how dumb it sounds. It is amazing I got that degree. Maybe my field is a particularly easy one or the professors felt they had to pass me after all this time."
So why does this occur? Why do sane, well rounded, successful individuals, routinely doubt their ability to be successful? There seems to be a mirad of reasons why this occurs. For some it is their upbringing, childhood experiences or in some cases trauma. Conditioned from an early age to think that whatever we do is wrong. However, for some of us, there seems to be no real reason, other than the common human disposition to doubt oneself. Maybe this is an inbuilt thing from the distant past, which was designed to make us doubt our abilities in situations that might be life threatening. Sedentary and lets face it, safe lives, may mean this instinct is now forced to act in other areas of our lives?
Whatever the reason, I think our best ammunition against this is acknowledgement. This tendency can be paralyzing and stop people from being as successful as they could be. Owning this tendency is a good step along the journey to mastering it and not letting it control our lives. Also, I always believe that knowing you are not alone helps with anything. So, if you are reading this, and nodding your head, welcome to the group :-)
For the full article by Karyl McBridge, go to http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-legacy-distorted-love/201104/are-you-plagued-self-doubt