Dreams aren’t linear, just as life itself isn’t. We have all got to be prepared for the twists and turns, for the crests and troughs. The Covid-19 pandemic brought along a whirlwind of uncertainties in everyone’s lives. Some couldn’t cope with online learning, some faced pay cuts, some grappled with job loss, some couldn’t make their business stay afloat, some couldn’t save their loved ones, some failed at sustaining relationships, and some couldn’t strike a work-life balance. And somewhere between all this, a whole lot of people have ended up trying to deal with self-doubt.
We talk about anxiety, fear and depression all the time, but self-doubt, damage to self esteem, and self confidence mostly remains in the subconscious. A few open up about it. “Have I really done nothing in life? What was the point of all the years of struggle?” asked a friend who is caught between being in a job she doesn’t enjoy and wanting to be in one which deserves her experience and expertise. Another friend who had a major pay cut, altering the lifestyle she was used to, asked, “Why me?”, almost self-blaming herself for the situation. An acquaintance is worried about her kid, who has mellowed down and remains contemplative as he used to perform really well at regular school but has been under-performing ever since e-learning became the order of the day.
Collectively, they are all battling negative self-talk, wondering whether they are good enough and capable, or even questioning their ways, choices or decisions.
Self-doubt can be evil. But if billionaire Richard Branson’s online newsletter is anything to go by, it may even be a necessary evil sometimes. “What I’ve learnt throughout my life is that every success is built upon a thousand failures (or ‘opportunities to learn,’ as I like to think of them),” writes Branson, adding, “It’s also healthy and perfectly human to have a little bit of doubt. It’s how we make progress and stay in touch with reality.”
While we may agree to some extent, focusing on the ‘little’ is important. When self-doubt begins to play havoc with your mental well being, clouding your mind with self-debilitating thoughts, it’s time to remind yourself that you’re not alone, and you shall overcome!
Eminent psychiatrist Dr Samir Parikh says talking about self-doubt is extremely important because it is not merely about a section of people. It can inflict people of all age groups and social strata.
Dr Parikh, Director, Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Fortis Healthcare, asserts that the reigns of controlling these moments of self-doubt also lies within ourselves.
One thing that everybody needs to understand is that none of what happened has an individual flavour or individuality to it. That “it has not happened to me because I faltered”. It happened because this tsunami of a pandemic hit everybody. So tell yourself that the reason behind what has happened is not ME, and it is not internal.
In psychology, we talk about internal locus and external locus. The external locus is something that happens that is not under one’s control. The internal locus is under my control. Now let us apply this and see what is in your control? Your ability, your education, your effort, your knowledge and your expertise. What is not in your control? Whether a job cut or a pay cut happened, or a job market reduction happened because of something like Covid-19. Focus on what you can control. And accept what you can’t control.
Never allow self-doubt to happen, because if that happens, your future becomes more difficult because you start losing hope about your own abilities. That’s when you must remind yourself that you are in this boat with hundreds and thousands of other people who have gone through the same experience. How you deal with it will be entirely up to you, but it will always be great if you choose to cope with it with a positive approach.
Covid-19 will be gone (someday, hopefully!). You and I will be here. Your ability, your knowledge, your education and your expertise will still be here. The demand that existed for what you used to do pre-Covid will be very much there post Covid-19 also. So, all we need to do is to pass this phase and cross-section in a way that on the other side, we are ready with optimism, positivity and hope.
During this phase, don’t hesitate to open up, talk to people, seek help, hone a few skills, learn a few things, maintain positivity and keep ensuring that your social support system is connected with you. That’s the approach you should have so that you don’t get into a negative spiral of self-blame, because, REMEMBER, it is not your fault.
Ladies, if you or any of your loved ones are dealing with self-doubt, just think of why every dark cloud has a silver lining and why there’s calm after every storm. Keep the hope and hustle alive!