I have been listening to a lot of podcasts lately, it’s my new favourite hobby. One that resonated me was a podcast on the subject of self-doubt and managing negativity, from Me & Orla. Yes, I’m mentioning her again.
I am plagued by self-doubt and have a brain that houses a particularly snarky negative voice, but this doesn’t make me unique. In fact, I would say I’m more likely to be in the majority. On the occasions where I’ve spoken about this with friends, the usual response is ‘me too’.
Reassuringly, the podcast mentions that anyone without this voice is probably a sociopath. Good to know, no?
The podcast explains that we are hard-wired by nature to respond to dangers with anxiety. Feelings of self-doubt and our negative voice are there to warn us of potential risk. Like a little alarm bell going off in our head. The problem is, these responses are better suited to situations that may cause bodily harm, rather than those that make us feel social anxiety.
They’re not comparable situations, are they? Yet, our bodies respond in similar ways to both.
One of the points raised in Sara and self-doubt guru, Sas Petherick’s, discussion, is that it’s possible identify how self-doubt manifests in behaviour. Apparently, one common way for self doubt to manifest, is through procrastination. Hearing this out loud was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me.
If you follow me on Instagram, you will know issues with procrastination are a regular theme. Whether it’s a piece of sponsored work or making a phone call; if it’s something I’m worried about, I procrastinate to the point of agony. It’s funny how attractive the prospect of hoovering becomes when I’m up against a work deadline.
One of the reasons I procrastinate, is because I worry that what I do wont be good enough. I worry that my work wont turn out as I envision or that I might be judged negatively. Thankfully, I don’t procrastinate to the point of actually missing a deadline, but my life would be much easier if I didn’t procrastinate at all.
In fact, the very act of procrastination makes the chance of realising my fears far greater. With less time to complete tasks, the potential for failure is more real, but worse than this, procrastinating makes me feel rubbish. Procrastination feeds an angry fire under that negative inner voice and provides validation to some of the things it tells me.
You’re not organised enough.
You’re not good enough.
You should probably just give up.
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The reassuring thing is that there are ways to work through these feelings. The podcast I mentioned here suggests identifying the source of negative feelings, whilst also learning how to recognise your strengths. The message is that we should focus on our personal qualities. A simple statement and one that’s hard to achieve, but it does work.
When identifying where our negative voice stems from, Sas advises that its usually borne from the unkind words of a loved one. I have to say, this makes me feel a little sad and I don’t think attributing blame would be very helpful to me. I don’t think it is fair to single out one person as being responsible for my state of mind.
It’s true that, over the duration of my life, I have been on the receiving end of negative comments. However, over the years, I have said some hurtful things too. It’s a fact of life. I would much prefer to recognise that the intent of those words is not (usually) meant to cause enduring harm, and move on from it.
One piece of Sas’s advice that I love, is the notion of cultivating your own champion. The idea is that you replace your negative voice, with one of encouragement and support. We could all do with a bit of that, right? To do this we need to listen to the kind and loving things people say, and use these words to feed our inner voice.
Another great point raised, is that when we talk about issues like these, they become more manageable. I can’t help but think that this statement applies to so many so many mental health issues. Talking always helps.
This is why podcasts like these are so positive, anything that says ‘hey, we’re all in this together’ can only be a good thing, whether we take the same steps to feeling better or not.
If you struggle with self-doubt and negativity, you should definitely listen to the podcast. It will be reassuring to you, I promise.