We all have negative thinking habits. It’s part of our basic survival instinct. However, when negative thinking becomes unhealthy, we can turn it against ourselves. When we are anxious, our unhealthy negativity can show up as self-doubt. It can be stifling and even keep us from moving forward altogether.
1) Stop. Just take stock with where you are. Breathe. In all likelihood, if you are feeling the anxiety of self-doubt, you have shortened your breath or are holding it all together. This sends a signal to the body to run, freeze, or fight. To relax, let the breath out in a full exhale and breathe consciously slow, even inhales and exhales for a few minutes.
2) Release your grip on the past. We can get hung up thinking about past experiences, especially when things turned out poorly for us or we made mistakes. If left alone, this can become an endless negative feedback loop.
3) Stay in the present. Focus your thoughts into the present moment… by putting your attention on your breathing. Stay here in the breath for a few minutes. Engage your tactile senses.
Run your hands through your hair, the soil, the grass, or along the bark of a tree trunk.
Take off your shoes and place your feet on the earth.
Take a hot bath.
Even a nice long drink of water can help ground us.
Get in touch with all your senses as if you were checking them off a list: what are you seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling in this moment?
These are all things you can do to help you come back to the feeling that you are steady and buoyant when you feel unanchored. You will be pleasantly surprised at the peace that is found in this space.
4) Resist catastrophizing. We can get caught up in fretting about the future and what will happen in it. When we do this, we are missing the present moment. We are also being unrealistic because the future hasn’t happened yet… and we are worrying about something that has yet to occur!
5) Give yourself a break. You’re doing the best to you can. Love yourself right here, where you are. You cannot know the outcome of everything you do – far from it, usually. This is where forgiveness and self-compassion play a critical part in our health.
6) Be mindful of external stimulation. Life brings enough challenge as it is. TV watching, movies, sports, and music all represent more stimulation. Take care of the kind of media that you bring in to your experience. When we are constantly bombarded with negative press, news, and stories, these feed our negativity, if only subconsciously.
7) Be mindful what you say to yourself. You are listening. Our inner dialogue can house a fierce inner critic. Take care what voices you allow to take up real estate in your head. Our patterns of negativity often show up as unhealthy voices inside us. You do not have to believe them. You can choose to put your attention on the breath or create positive thoughts.
8) Get out in nature. When we experience nature, we remember our connection to powers greater than we are. Walking in nature can help us expand beyond the contracted feeling we get when we shrink into our self-doubt.
9) Be of service. Volunteer locally. There are so many organizations that can use an extra hand. It is amazing how our service not only helps others, but also helps us build self-confidence.
10) Bow and be grateful. Beyond the ego, there is so much more… consciousness itself. We are given much by others and by the Universe. When we are grateful, our negativity disappears. It is so easy to become swept up in the role of a victim when we are stressed and caught up in the anxiety of self-doubt. If we are focusing on how stressed we are, we get hung up in the feeling of being stressed. But if we focus instead on how blessed we are, then we shift our focus to a whole other energy state and open to the frequency of gratitude, the baseline in the frequency of abundance.
These tools will serve you well in overcoming the anxiety that self-doubt brings.