The Self Doubt Epidemic

The Self Doubt Epidemic

By Jamie Matthewman
August 7th, 2014

“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” H.H Dalai Lama

It’s highly unlikely you’ve avoided the growing frenzy surrounding the latest tragic outbreak of Ebola. Whilst my heart goes out to all those suffering and feeling scared, and of course it’s something we should be very concerned about. Does it really pose a threat to the human race? I hope not.

Perhaps the world wide panic is unfounded, and the risk is being taken out of all proportion. In The Guardian this morning, you’re worrying about the wrong disease, citing far bigger threats to human life right now, including tuberculosis (600,000 deaths since February) and seasonal flu, estimated to kill 250,000 – 500,000 people globally this winter.

This got me thinking. What if there’s an even bigger epidemic? One that’s been going on since the dawn of man. An epidemic that poses more of a threat than Ebola (unless of course you have the disease!) in terms of advancing the human race, living your life to its fullest and ending your life regret free?

The Epidemic of Self Doubt

This psychological ailment causes men and women to conform to nonsensical rules, to play small, to accept mediocrity, ignore their passions and suffer in silence all of their lives. Self doubt leads to great ideas falling by the wayside; potentially world changing ideas never being created because people don’t believe in themselves.

Instead choosing to stay comfortable, fearful of coming out and sharing their unique talents and take on the world in case of ridicule. That to me is a travesty.

How I know about Self Doubt

Summer will soon be over and the warmth of the sun will steadily cool (depending where you are in the world of course) and 2014 will soon become a distant memory. A time never to be experienced again in the history of the universe.

Today in fact this moment, is one a shot opportunity to make it count, yet how many of us really do? I know intellectually my life is nearing a close but there are time when I hold myself back, somehow unconsciously believing that I’ve got all the time in the world.

I could make excuses and say I don’t have the time, money, resources and so on but I’d be lying to myself. The truth is fear fear stops me from taking action. It is the culprit that stops me stepping outside of my comfort zone into the unknown and it’s primarily the fear of not being good enough.

Let me be more specific.

For along time now I’ve been talking about starting a podcast. I appreciate I’ll probably make a lousy interviewer in the beginning, but I could be a natural, either way, I know I’ll improve. Personally I’d love to spend time chatting with some of the people who inspire me most in life. It would be pretty awesome.

The thing is, when I listen to people I admire who are doing what I want to do, old recurring thoughts of self doubt show up like a bad smell. You see self doubt isn’t a new thing for me it’s been part of my life for as long as I can remember.

Now fortunately I’m lucky enough to appreciate it’s just a thought and I learnt comparing yourself to others is one of the quickest ways to a low self esteem, but it still gets me from time to time.

Where Does Self Doubt Come From?

Maybe the fear’s a result of our primitive pasts ingrained into the human psyche to keep us safe? Unless you were a prime candidate for top dog, standing up to be counted 100,000 years ago would probably have meant death – either you’d be murdered or ousted from the tribe and left to fight off the numerous threats to your life alone in a harsh environment.

So maybe most men got used to keeping quiet, conforming and doing as they were told by those in power, awaiting permission to be granted.

Perhaps my doubting beliefs originated from my parents, being bullied as a kid or finding the school system particularly uninspiring. Or maybe it’s because I’ve grown up in a culture where English men aren’t known to be outgoing conversationalists! Rather the story has it that we’re supposed to be reserved, quiet men of few words.

And whilst there’s probably some truth in all these ideas – they’re just more excuses.

Self Doubt is Laziness

The Dalai Lama says that doubting yourself is simply laziness. I think he means that by letting yourself off the hook and allowing the excuses to stop you, you give up and become lazy. I like that idea.

Mastin Kipp over at The Daily Love says

“there is a very fine line between excitement and anxiety (fear). The only difference being anxiety has a negative perception of the future outcome and excitement has a positive anticipation for the future outcome”

This makes sense too. What has waiting cost me? What has putting this off meant in terms of wasted time and missed opportunities? What would have happened if I’d got going earlier?

The sands of time won’t slow down for me to find the courage to get started, but there’s no point beating myself up about it, but at some point we have to start, don’t we?

Is Self Doubt Stopping You from Getting Started?

To let self doubt keep you from ever trying and resigning to a life of regret is surely something you want to avoid just like ebola isn’t it? Putting yourself out there, standing on the parapet is scary. Taking risks is risky that’s why their called risks! The thing is you’ve failed in the past and you will again, but you aren’t a failure.

Having faith in yourself and accepting these things as part of the wonder of creation makes us come fully alive. There is nothing more exhilarating in my experience than pushing beyond comfort even though it can seem very daunting.

So is there something you’re waiting for? Are you putting off something that could change your life for the better? Something that would open up a brand new adventure?

What if you didn’t need approval or permission or anything outside yourself? You don’t. Have Faith.

I’d love to know your thoughts…

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Jamie Matthewman

About Jamie Matthewman

Jamie is the founder, main contributor and editor of The Inspired Man.

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