If you find yourself overwhelmed by self-doubt, you’re not alone. Many of our most capable and accomplished public figures and thought leaders suffer huge self-doubt and personal confidence crises throughout their careers and lives. While it is easy to perceive that people of status have it all and have it all together, it’s humbling to know that underneath, there are some universal truths that are shared amongst people. Like feelings of fear and doubt and unworthiness. Those we look up to and learn from also share in the vast human experience, they are not impenetrable; everyone has their own stuff, so to speak.
Brene Brown, Ph.D, from the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, is a leading researcher and global storyteller dealing with concepts of vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. She is funny, bold and charismatic – to watch her speak, she seems to have a way of caramelising emotions and words; she can make sense of messy feelings and connects with your deeper self, while at the same time she’s cracking jokes and laughing loudly, oozing comfortability, making you feel all at once very human, loved in your imperfection and eager to hear more. In short, she’s fabulous and can hold her own on a stage. Brown’s work has inspired many to embrace their own doubt and vulnerability as a way of transforming themselves and fully living a wholehearted experience.
For all of her charm on stage, Brown becomes ever more relatable because of her own journey and her willingness to share it. She has been open in interviews, discussing particulars of her personal year-long break down, filled with debilitating anxiety attacks and driven by what she calls, the Ps in our lives – proving, pleasing, perfecting, performing (we will delve into these in a later post!).
Her 2010 TED talk “The Power of Vulnerability”, in which she shares her story and research, has become one the 5 most popular TED talks of all time with almost 28 million views to date. If you haven’t watched it yet, it’s great.
Part of Brown’s popularity is that she is so refreshing – she speaks about finding the courage to sit with her stuff, not run from it, and she uses her own personal suffering as a platform and an opportunity to dig deeper into her own self-awareness and to transform. Not only transform her own life, but potentially the lives of millions of others. Her ability to stand up and thrive following adversity does not make her a better person than us, she has simply not let those thoughts and feelings of fear and doubt permanently sabotage her performance or experience.
So much time and potential is wasted when we entertain the whispers of self-judgement and shame – so in drawing on Brown’s work, how can we do our best to avoid this self-sabotage trap?
Try these 3 things:
1. To allow yourself opportunities of growth and purpose, be vulnerable.
Being vulnerable is one thing that comes naturally to few. However it is a powerful behaviour to consciously harness for deep self-acceptance and personal growth. With mindful practice, we can develop behaviours which allow us to accept our current reality as it is – good, bad or ugly. Here in this acceptance, we find ourselves simply where we are, without harsh judgement or resistance. When we are without resistance, we have heightened clarity and are in a much better frame of mind to realise the opportunities of circumstance and find greater purpose.
2. Ask yourself for validation before you ask others.
When we give permission to be vulnerable and accept ourselves without harsh criticism, we are offering ourselves a new sense of worth that is intrinsically driven. It is knowing within oneself that your experience, your view point is of value. This belief enables us to refrain from constantly seeking external validation for our choices and actions but rather empowers us to drive our experience from what we already know. We exercise a deep sense of self trust when we ask ourselves for wisdom or answers before needing to look elsewhere and from self-trust we develop empowerment. An empowered being is a force to be reckoned with!
3. Trust your values.
It is evident in the body and the emotions when we act against our value system, you feel it in your bones when you do something you know is not right. Take time to really ask yourself what values are important and non-negotiable to you – and then make them mean something. Make decisions that are driven by these, speak words that are rooted in what you believe in. Our positive existence is driven by trusting in and acting according to our core values, and we are out of balance – physically, mentally and spiritually – when we don’t. For more on values, visit www.authentichappiness.org
Article by Jaye Hoelscher, Head of Program and Guest Experience