All our problems originate in the mind. We carry in our minds the fears and phobias, insecurities, anxieties, false concepts and notions, etc., according to the data that has been fed to us right from our birth. At home the elders and a variety of people in the neighborhood, in the society, at school, at the university along with peer pressure, influence us in many ways. Mostly it is about a set template according to which the major aspects of our lives should be. We get thoroughly conditioned by these and then find it very difficult to break out of it.
Whenever we dared to think for ourselves, we were told by elders or so-called knowledgeable people that our way of thinking is wrong and bound to get us into trouble. Whenever we spontaneously expressed ourselves, whether by voicing our mind or doing what we felt like doing, we were told it is against the norm and hence avoid doing it. We were told that we should adhere to the norms and suppress ourselves in all sorts of ways no matter how much suffering it may cause.
Naturally, as children most of us learned to blindly conform to accepted norms, afraid that otherwise we would be abandoned by society. Instead of rebelling against the suppression that was forced upon us, we chose to pretend that we are who society expected us to be. We chose to wear a persona, a mask that hides our true selves. We started doing our best to conform in any way possible, believing that this is the right way to live and the more we did, the more we didn’t listen to our inner voice. At some point in our lives, after prolong repression and conditioning, we forgot that we even have an inner voice and stopped paying attention to it altogether. We became soulless robots, following a predetermined path that was handed down to us by tradition.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Whenever a problem or new challenge appears in our lives now, we find it immensely difficult to deal with it, because we can’t spontaneously respond to the situations or circumstances, we find ourselves in. As we are, we feel inadequate, insecure, lacking the confidence needed to deal with any issue that we happen to face. Unable to trust ourselves, we feel convinced that all our efforts are going to end up in failure and we fear failure the most, because we have been conditioned to think that to fail means we are a failure ourselves.
When our thinking, our way of doing things and our perspective of various aspects of our lives are different to the set template, there is some fear as to the consequences of our non-conforming thoughts and action. That is when self-doubt arises.
Our self-doubt is tremendously limiting our freedom and is filling our psyche with fear and anxiety and unless we learn how to deal with self-doubt and trust ourselves, we will not be able to live a fulfilling and contented life. Therefore, we need to start listening to our inner voice and trust ourselves more.
We need to have an open mind and an intellect which can discriminate between Self and not-Self, Real and unreal, Eternal and ephemeral, etc. to transcend the mental conditioning.
Reconnect with your self
The first and most important step to overcoming self-doubt is to let go of the beliefs we’ve been brainwashed into about who we are and start our own quest for truth and self-understanding. To achieve this, we need to spend more time alone, reflect, meditate, come in touch with our inner voice and make friends with who we are in reality and not what we think we are.
Accept yourself as you are
It is our inability to accept ourselves fully, with all our weaknesses and shortcomings that causes so much anguish in our lives. To accept and trust ourselves doesn’t mean that we first need to be perfect. In fact, nobody is perfect and that’s fine. No person can be good at everything or always make the right choices in life. As we grow, we keep learning new things, but we should never fool ourselves that we can achieve perfection. We should laugh at ourselves, at our behavior and at our antics. We should not take ourselves too seriously. No one else does.
A lot of self-doubt comes from the fear of failure. We’ve been made to believe that failure is bad, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Failure is not the opposite of success. It is a part of success, when we learn from our mistakes and stop committing them again. So, we shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes, because our mistakes can be our best teacher.
Take responsibility for your life
Finally, in order to learn to trust ourselves, we need to accept responsibility for our lives. Usually we like to throw the responsibility on others and blame them for anything that goes wrong with our lives. Hence, we don’t see ourselves as the creators of our destiny, but as victims who are powerless, waiting for a savior to relieve us of our suffering. Only when we become mature enough to take responsibility in our hands, will we be able to develop confidence, courage and self-trust. We need to develop faith in our own talents and abilities.
“Every decision you make — every decision — is not a decision about what to do. It’s a decision about Who You Are. When you see this, when you understand it, everything changes. You begin to see life in a new way. All events, occurrences, and situations turn into opportunities to do what you came here to do.” — Neale Donald Walsch