Conquering the demon called self doubt – with a positive attitude

Conquering the demon called self doubt – with a positive attitude

Veena Sethuraman

TedX Speaker, Head Learning & Development, InMobi


To begin with, some questions for you to ponder:

  • Have you ever doubted yourself?
  • Have you ever felt that you don’t deserve the compliment coming your way? How often do you feel that way?
  • Have you ever felt that you are the least smart person in the gathering around the table? (at office/home/social circles)
  • Have you ever felt that all that you have achieved has been just because you were lucky, and you were at the right time at the right place with the right person?
  • Have you ever felt you don’t deserve anything you have achieved because you are not talented or smart or perfect?
  • Have you ever felt the fear that you will be exposed for the bad person you are and the world will get to see the ugly side of you? And hence, this fear constantly keeps you moving?

If yes, welcome to the world of self-doubt which is highly and deeply humane.

If no, then this article may help you face your biggest demon. Welcome to the world of blind spots which is yet again highly and deeply humane.

Imposter Syndrome – when you feel inadequate despite success

I was talking to a dear friend of mine the other day. Someone whom I look up to – She is a graduate from one of the top universities in the world, a super successful professional, who is recognised for walking the talk when it comes to values and ethics; one of the most authentic and mindful persons I have come across.

I told her that she is one of my biggest role models; and, If I ever become successful, I would want to handle my life and myself the way she handles; with courage, humility and fun.

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She responded asking “What do you mean when you say ‘if I ever become successful’? I hope you know that you are already successful? You have achieved more than what I have accomplished in my whole life. You are a TEDx speaker, you have finished writing your first book which would be published any time in the near future, you are a practicing therapist, you are a design thinking consultant, a leadership coach with a successful career track….and you are humble and authentic. You are only going upwards and onwards from here. You are already successful!”

As I heard this, tears rolled down my eyes. That’s when I realised my difficulty in acknowledging that I am successful.

This interaction left me wondering. What makes it difficult for me to acknowledge that I am successful? Is it the need to stay humble? Or is it the high conviction that I can never be successful; and the fear that I don’t deserve to be successful?

These questions helped me recall the awareness I have about Imposter Syndrome. The term impostor syndrome, coined in 1978, is described as a feeling of “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” Basically, when you feel inadequate despite evident success.

Not acknowledging Self Doubt – impact on one’s personality

If you were to never catch that self-doubt by horns and face that demon,

  • You may sound and come across as “too perfect to be true”, hence, un-relatable.
  • You may not be able to make yourself accountable for what you say and how you say it.
  • You may fail to create authentic and meaningful relationships
  • Your areas of improvement could continue to be your blind spots.
  • Your biases and flaws would be very clear for the people around you. But, you may be living in a “I am perfect” bubble.
  • You may be in constant fear that you will be exposed. But, you wouldn’t be able to overcome it.
  • You may block your authentic emotions.
  • You may play games with people (politics?) as you wouldn’t be able to take care of your authentic needs in a healthy way.

Sounds too harsh?

Reality can be harsh. Like a mirror which shows our beautiful and ugly side. It is up to us to embrace the ugly side of us and own it as it is part of us.

Overcoming Self Doubt

Hence, a meaningful way to deal with this would be by taking the following steps

  • Acknowledging this demon in you.
  • Be aware that this demon is only humane, and it is very common.
  • Showing your emotions doesn’t make you weak.
  • Creating healthy boundaries with people who do not understand your journey and who limit your healing and growth.
  • When in doubt, reach out to people you trust and ask for positive strokes.
  • Remind yourself of your abilities.
  • Openly acknowledge the positive roles played by others without discounting your presence and capabilities.
  • Know that you deserve. You deserve everything that you wish for.
  • Gently remind yourself that “I can be a masterpiece and work in progress at the same time”

The only way to deal with self-doubt is to say….”babe, bring it on”!!!

Please do leave your comments at the bottom and do share with others if you like this article.

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