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Six Simple Steps to Tame Self-Doubt

How I overcame my own self-doubt.

raise self-confidence
Source: tashatuvango/dreamstime

The PBS Show Terrified Me

I was being called on to be an expert, to be wise, to deliver a message while following multiple complex instructions — and I wanted to run away screaming. It was the kind of self-doubt that steals your soul — exploding big-time at the rehearsal for a one-woman PBS TV Special I managed to land.

Standing on the stage sweating mega-bullets, I could barely hear my executive producer as she flooded me with impossible directions: “Make sure to stay within these lines on the floor, watch the teleprompter but act natural, be funny, mind the clock and, oh, be sure to deliver the payoff line into this face camera!” The producer ended her long list of instructions by saying, “Remember, this whole show is riding on you!” I never had any stage training whatsoever. As panic rose in my throat, all I could think was I can’t do this.

Childhood Memories Flood Me

This impossible situation blasted me instantly back to the nightmare of self-doubt that plagued my childhood. Back then I was severely shy to the point of being mute with people; nothing I could do or say was right or worthwhile or good enough. Born an unwanted fifth daughter to a family that only valued and wanted boys, I would weep about my parents’ misfortune in being stuck with me, a crummy, useless girl. As a young child, I experienced myself as a major disappointment, a waste, a person who did not deserve to be alive. My identity was that of being unwanted, worthless, and a good-for-nothing.

Growing up I felt so damaged, defective, and "bad" that I had to hide from others. I became anxious and invisible and could hardly even speak. I could barely even acknowledge my own feelings. Second-guessing any decision I made, I became immobilized to the point of being unable to take any action.

My father often called me a “piece of sh*t” during his angry binges with alcohol. He once said that he gave me life and he had the right to take it away from me. And he believed this to be true. None of this was my father’s fault: He was raised in extreme poverty and had an explosive and abusive mother himself. He truly did the best he could, but my early upbringing left me with a very negative sense of self. Self-doubt was my middle name.

And now, I was being called on to be of service in a big way — to be fully alive, radiant, and self-expressed. I definitely wanted to run away screaming.

I Used My Lifeline

Instead, I called one of the coaches who had been trained by me and asked her to reverse our roles and come save me in the green room. I asked her to use the most powerful process I knew to take me from massive self-doubt and crippling anxiety to real self-confidence, so I could actually do the show.

William Shakespeare said, "Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."

My coach used the powerful Diamond Self-empowerment process with me, which I am going to share with you in a bit. After doing the process, I performed the one-woman show and was astonished at how great it went. In fact, at the end I fell to the stage weeping in gratitude. After seeing the show, three women sitting in that studio audience alone got happily married—including the PBS pledge show host, Midge Woolsey, whose beautiful love journey was written up in The New York Times. And many more singles across the nation were able to jump-start their love lives to a whole new level. (You can view the show, Love in 90 Days on Amazon Prime.)

The point is this: "There’s a treasury full of jade and jewels; it is in you. Don’t go searching far from home for it—it’s here." (The Buddha)

Here is the very powerful Diamond Self Exercise, which I used to free myself from paralyzing self-doubt and find true confidence and self-expression. It is designed to create greater deservedness, self-esteem, confidence, and love for yourself. If you suffer from self-doubt, worry, anxiety, or depression; if you have a judgmental inner critic or second-guess yourself all the time; if you feel invisible, nervous, insecure, or less-than when you are with certain people, this is an awesome exercise for you. You will be surprised at how great you can be, no matter what challenges you face.

The Self-Doubt-Busting "Diamond Self Exercise"

Read each of the six steps of the Diamond Self Exercise below and then close your eyes, taking your time to do each step.

Remember a time when you felt good about yourself—alive, attractive, smart, passionate, confident, loving, lovable. Put yourself in the picture so that you are looking through your own eyes. If you can’t remember a time like this, imagine a scene where you would feel good about yourself. Feel that completely.

Imagine yourself better, even better. Imagine yourself five times better.

Now take that image and bring it closer to you. Make it brighter, more colorful, clearer. Give it a soundtrack, a great soundtrack, magnify all those good feelings—make them stronger. This is your Diamond Self. Give it a name, a grand name.

Here are some examples to get you going:

  • Empowered Inspirer of Love and Success
  • Triumphant Confident Cleopatra
  • Empowered Exuberant One
  • Clever Caring (your first name)
  • Deserving Radiant Goddess of Light
  • Saucy Smart Minx
  • Beloved Mighty Isis
  • Happy and Fearless Goddess of Love and Success
  • Joyful Chosen Magnificent Jewel
  • Sparkling Confident Queen
  • Playful Precious Mesmerizing Lioness
  • Sparkalicious Loving One

Play with any names that come to you for a minute or two. Then say your Diamond Self name to yourself. (You can always work on or expand it later.)

Shrink the Diamond Self, make it tiny, as small as a real diamond. Then put that image aside. Get an image of yourself at a time when you were filled with self-doubt or felt rejected, abandoned, betrayed or unlovable, or when you were overrun with self-doubt and negative self-talk, such as "It’s hopeless for me," or "I’m not good enough," not "smart enough," not "attractive enough," or "I’m invisible," a "loser," and so forth. We’ll call this your Disappointing Self.

Take the image of your Diamond Self, make it the size of a hand grenade, and imagine throwing it right into the center of your Disappointing Self. Imagine it exploding and completely destroying the Disappointing Self.

Now, let's try instant replay. Imagine your doubt-laden Disappointing Self and throw the Diamond Self grenade into the center, blowing up the Disappointing Self again. Speed the whole thing up and repeat several more times.

Do this exercise until you cannot get a clear image of the Disappointing Self. Do a quick version of this process whenever you go to an important social event or any time you need a lift.

Anchoring in Your Diamond Self Name

Play with your Diamond Self name, amending it until it has a fun, joyful quality. Don’t be afraid to play full out with it: The sky’s the limit. This is not a time to be shy or self-effacing. Let yourself fly with a truly wonderful name. It is critical to the speed and success of your journey to full self-confidence. You do have genius in you.

Now that you have your Diamond Self name it is time to go shopping and dress “Lovely Irresistible Dancer,” or whoever has emerged as your unique new you. Pull a new look together by thinking about your validating name. Buy clothes, accessories and simple jewelry that are in alignment with your new self. Get a trendy haircut that frames and showcases the beauty or handsomeness in that face you see in the mirror.

Post your Diamond Self name near your computer or in another place where you can see it every day.

If you would like help with building your confidence, you can apply for a complimentary confidence-building session by phone or Skype with one of my gifted coaches.