Paddleboarding looks like so much fun. I want to be one of those people, effortlessly stroking through the water, proudly and confidently. It makes getting exercise seem so peaceful and easy.
While I was on vacation last winter, I got up the nerve to rent a paddleboard. It turns out it’s a lot harder than it looks. But I knew that if I encouraged myself with positive self-talk, I could do it.
So, I talked myself through it … and right into the water!
Do you ever talk to yourself? I often joke that some days it’s the only intelligent conversation I have. If you do talk to yourself, do you listen? That little voice that tells you that you aren’t smart enough, skinny enough, rich enough, young enough, or anything enough? This time, my inner voice said, “You’ve got this, Rhonda! Stand still. Stop shaking. And whatever you do, don’t fall off.”
And as soon as I started thinking about falling off, down I went.
I wasn’t physically hurt, but my pride was. I fell off, not because I couldn’t do it, but because I listened to the voice in my head that began focussing on what could happen if I didn’t do everything perfectly.
That voice has hurt me many times and held me back from doing things I’ve wanted to do. I realize that I’ve been the one holding me back, and I’ve decided that I’m not going to continue to listen to that self-doubt voice. I want to experience life to the fullest, and listening to that voice won’t let me.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”7yJfs” via=”yes” ] Your inner voice can kill your aspirations and desires. Ask yourself how many opportunities you’ve missed in your life because you’ve talked yourself out of them.[/ctt]
That inner voice can kill your aspirations and desires. It can be very destructive and unhelpful, personally or professionally. Ask yourself how many opportunities you’ve missed in your life because you talked yourself out of them.
In order to prevent myself from listening to that voice, I developed what I call “the CPR method” of overcoming self-doubt. Here it is:
C – Catch it
The first and most important thing we need to do is to catch ourselves in the act. If we realize we are self-sabotaging, we can correct the pattern. That does mean that you need to hear the messages you’re saying to yourself.
Hearing and listening are two different things. Hear it so you can catch it. Listening implies implementing what you have heard. Hearing it acknowledges the thought – without implementation.
Last summer, I signed up for one of those home-delivery organic vegetable boxes; you subscribe and every week you get a collection of locally-grown vegetables depending on what’s in season that week. I wanted to support local farmers, and I wanted to broaden my vegetable consumption.
A few weeks ago, my box arrived. It contained an eggplant. I don’t think I’ve ever bought an eggplant before, and I had no idea how to cook it. Any time I’ve eaten it other than in eggplant parmesan, I haven’t really enjoyed it.
I heard myself say, “Yuck. How am I going to use this and not waste it? What if my family doesn’t like it, and they tell me the vegetable box was just a waste of money?” I could hear my self-doubt spiral, giving me trepidation about even signing up for a subscription.
Catching yourself requires that you pay attention to the messages you’re sending yourself. Don’t let those messages remain in your subconscious (where they can cause damage); be aware that you are starting to doubt yourself.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”IZW42″ via=”yes” ]Use CPR to Overcome Doubt![/ctt]
Using my CPR analogy, this is where you notice the (figurative) pain in your chest.
P – Put a stop to it
Stop the spiral immediately. CPR requires urgent implementation. Since I freely admit that I speak to myself, I have no issue with talking to myself aloud. I will say, “Rhonda, stop!” often in a voice that sounds suspiciously like my mother’s.
Imagine you’re going to your annual performance review, and you are expecting it to be less stellar than you’d like. While you are getting ready, you hear that sneaky and destructive voice telling you to be prepared to be put on notice, and advising you to lower your expectations about getting a raise this year.
Catch yourself, and put a stop to that voice immediately.
Now, don’t stop your CPR at this point, because all you’ve done is noticed the pain and had someone do (figurative) chest compressions. While that might be enough to save your life, the job isn’t done yet. So here’s the third component:
R – Replace it with something positive
In this case, “something positive” means a message with a realistic and optimistic alternative. If you’ve heard the messages you were telling yourself, and then stopped them, you can now replace the self-doubt messaging with something more positive.
This is where I like to get creative, and often funny. It allows me to completely turn my thinking in another direction, which takes away the self-doubt and lets me laugh at myself for even thinking such ridiculous thoughts.
This final step in the CPR for self-doubt is the equivalent of calling 911. It gives you the confidence to know that you’ll be safe. Notice the pain, start the compressions, and call 911 until the crisis is over.
When I was on the paddleboard, I didn’t catch my self-doubt, and I didn’t stop it. Until I fell into the water. As I laughed at my clumsiness, I realized that I had thought myself into falling. I got back on the paddleboard and said to myself, “Now that the fall is out of the way, you can stop worrying. Clearly, falling won’t kill you. And, if you’re lucky, someone got a great video of you going down that you can laugh over later.”
When I opened up the fridge later in the week and saw the eggplant, I caught myself once again dreading cooking the vegetable. However, I immediately stopped the negative thought. I picked the eggplant up, and walked over to my iPad, opened Pinterest, and found dozens of recipes that would not only be easy but appeared to be very tasty too. I started getting excited about playing the home version of Master Chef, cooking with an ingredient I wasn’t familiar with.
If you are about to walk into your annual performance review and catch yourself going down the self-doubt path, put a stop to and replace it with something along the lines of, “Well, while it wasn’t my best year, I certainly didn’t do anything bad enough to get fired. Maybe I’ll even come out of this with a promotion (insert laugh here).” Even if you don’t quite believe what you’re saying to yourself, you are using humour to slow the downward spiral you’re on. You can continue to talk to yourself about what might happen so you can be prepared. Replace each negative thought with a positive or optimistic thought.
Catch it – Put a stop to it – Replace it with something positive and optimistic.
Your initial results may not be as successful as you hope they will. I fell off that paddleboard another half a dozen times, even after I’d stopped my negative self-talk. But I was okay, and I didn’t quit. As a matter of fact, I’ve ordered my own paddleboard for my home in Ottawa, and I intend to master it. I’m not too old, too uncoordinated, or too out-of-shape to do it, and I won’t let self-doubt hold me back. I’m determined, stubborn, and smart enough to know that I can still learn a thing or two (including how to paddleboard).
And the eggplant on the BBQ was fantastic. In fact, I’ve turned my family into eggplant loving people too, and they see the value in our subscription to the organic veggie service.
Sometimes we need to perform CPR on ourselves. Take some preventative measures to ensure you’re living your life to the fullest and not holding yourself back with self-doubt.