When we're on the brink of change, our thoughts have a tendancy to hold us back. We start to think about all the negative reasons for not doing something new, all the things that could wrong and all the reasons why we're not up to the job. We start to doubt ourselves and our ability to cope with the worst case scenario. Here are two ways to overcome these doubts and negative thoughts.
1. Reflect on your strengths
Consider the change you're seeking to make and ask yourself the below questions, noting down your answers.
- What advantages do you have over others (for example, skills, education, achievements, strengths), which mean you will make a success of what you're aiming to achieve?
- What do you do better than anyone else? How will these help you along the way?
- What personal resources can you access when required, which will help you along the way?
- What do other people (friends, family, colleagues, boss) see as your strengths?
- Which of your past achievements are you most proud of? What helped you obtain these goals?
2. Dispute your negative thoughts
When you hear yourself worrying about the outcome of the change you want to make, ask yourself the below questions and note down your answers, referring to them when you start to doubt yourself again.
- What is the evidence that contradicts the negative belief/thought that you’re having?
- Is this belief logical/based on absolute fact? (probably not)
- What are the implications for and consequences of you holding onto this belief?
- Does this belief help you move forward or hinder you? (likely to hinder you)
- Are you confusing your preferences (what you’d like to happen) with rigid demands? i.e. everyone must like me otherwise the world will end, instead of I’d prefer everyone to like me but I can cope if they don’t.
- It's likely you are certain the worst will happen. Remember that it is just as likely that the best will happen, and perhaps more likely because you will be in charge of how things turn out. You are in control of the outcome.
- Remember that what people think of you does not alter your worth or competence; you’re still you (with all of the strengths and great things identified above) no matter what anyone else thinks. Their opinions do not define you. What people think of you says more about them than it does about you e.g. if someone gets annoyed with you, it is likely that it is because of something else going on in their life (not your fault nor your problem).
I hope these points help you start off the process of you learning to build a more positive and optimistic outlook. It can take time to change the way we perceive ourselves but I hope this helps kick-start the process.
Editorial Assistant (previously an EA)
I first contacted Alice at a time when I was feeling very low about my work and desperate to make a change. Alice listened closely to my needs and tailored our sessions to the specific challenges I was facing. She was quick to follow up after our sessions, to reflect on what I’d said, and to give me further exercises which would help with my development. Alice really helped me to build my confidence to think logically through potential risks of leaving a job and of moving into a new sector, which I did and where I have just started my first job. I have recommended Alice to many friends and friends of friends who I hope will benefit from her coaching as much as I have.