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Overcome Self-Doubt By Taking Your Thoughts to Trial

Creator:
Published:
December 20, 2023
December 11, 2023
Wondering how to overcome self-doubt? Check out these tips to increase your self confidence and put your worries at ease in a creative way.

I came to a realization some time ago that there is an ever-present oxymoron in my life. I pride myself in my commitment to being a rational person. When there is a problem, I attempt to logically work my way through it in order to make my way to potential solutions. 

Yet, I am also my worst critic and rarely apply that same logic when I experience uncertainty about one or more aspects of myself. When I am rejected, I find it both valid and justifiable. When I receive an acceptance, I simply assume they had low standards. I am quick to give out compliments, but when I receive praise, my instinct is to deny it. When my friends became extremely, and justifiably, tired of my inability to take a compliment, I knew that my tendency to self-doubt was unsustainable. 

Channeling my former pre-law self, I decided to take my thoughts to trial in order to logically come to a more impartial verdict. In doing so, I have found that I have already started to overcome self-doubting thoughts that too often went unchecked. If you too struggle with self-doubt, here is how you can take your thoughts to trial!

Put your thought on the docket

If you’re like me, you may become stressed, confused, and experience a feeling of dread when you’re going through self-doubt. But it can be difficult to know what exactly is causing these uncomfortable and somewhat painful feelings. For this reason, identifying what is causing the feeling of self-doubt is fundamental. Afterall, how can we overcome self-doubt if we do not know what it is we’re doubting about ourselves?

During my time in college, I would experience dread and ambivalence when it came to applying for internships. I often asked myself why I was feeling these emotions. My conclusion? I knew that I was not good enough, that I would get denied from the various internships I applied to. I thought that my experience was limited, my GPA too low, and my cover letter too basic. The first step to tackling any problem is identifying what the problem is. So next time a self-doubt emerges, start by asking yourself: Why do I believe it? By asking yourself this, you are on your way to overcoming your self-doubt that will ultimately lead to less insecurities and a more joyful mood. 

Coming up with a defense

Just as every person should be given a right to a fair trial, so too should your thoughts be given this right. Part of having a fair trial includes the accused having a defense team that offers up evidence for the thought in question. What factual evidence is there to support the self-doubt? Just like a real-life court case, factual evidence cannot be somebody’s opinion or an interpretation. Feel free to let those thoughts pour out! 

In the case of my experience applying for internships, my evidence was that I had been denied internships that I wanted. Moreover, many of my friends who were successful in getting internships, especially those that were deeply coveted, had better grades and more valuable work experience than I did. I also thought my cover letters were poorly written and did not showcase anything different from my resume. 

It is important in this step to give reason to why you believe the negative thought to be true. What logical evidence is there for supporting such a thought? Look for proof or concrete examples from your past experiences. 

Setting up the prosecution

Now it is your job to undermine the credibility of the self-doubting thought while presenting evidence which might support alternative points of view. This is where you can yell out, “Objection your honor!” Tell “the judge” about a time when this thought was not true. Use facts and evidence to discredit the thought. The prosecution is all about providing substantial evidence against the thought. 

When it comes to my internship example, I initially thought that there was no evidence against my thought. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had always gotten at least one internship. There were people I knew with lower grades than me who had less experience than I did. They all got internships. I had my cover letter reviewed through the career development office at my university, and while there were some edits, none of the comments alluded to the cover letter being bad. 

This step is definitely a difficult one, especially if you struggle with self-love. What do you think the prosecution attorney would say to convince the jury that this thought is guilty? What evidence would they use to support this argument? Remember, when it comes to evidence, there are no “ifs” or “buts.”

The verdict of the judge and jury

Come to a verdict regarding your self-doubting thought. Take the role of the jury and the judge who have to weigh up the evidence that has been presented to them. Review the points that were made by defense and the prosecution “teams.” Put aside any feelings in order to make a balanced judgment based on the logical evidence that was presented.  

In my case, I realized that there was no actual reason to worry so much about not getting an internship before I even applied to any. I ended up getting internships when I applied to them. Then why was I so much in doubt? I came to the verdict, or the conclusion, that my thoughts revolving around my own self-doubts were, in fact, irrational and that I was simply catastrophizing. 

Review the evidence and ask yourself questions such as “Given all of the evidence presented, what do I think of the original thought now?” or “Can I give a reasonable and logical verdict on the original thought, and can I express a new way of thinking?”

This process of taking your thoughts to trial requires some extra deliberating — but it’s a valuable tool you can use to calm yourself and avoid spiraling. I’ve turned to it again and again to counter negative thoughts and emotions and overall, improve my mental health. So next time you find yourself facing self-doubt, bring those thoughts to trial.

Creators:
Ivan Brea
Published:
December 20, 2023
December 11, 2023
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