If It’s Not Working… Doubt Yourself

What are you absolutely certain of?

You probably think you know a lot of things about yourself. And it’s those things that you’re certain of that are holding you back.

You might be certain that…

  • You can only make X amount of money per month.
  • You’re not worth someone’s time.
  • You’re not cool/smart/attractive enough to be successful with him/her.
  • You don’t have enough time.
  • You’re a depressed person.
  • You’re not on “the same level” as your peers.
  • You’d never get a book deal.
  • You’ll never be able to forgive the person that hurt you.
  • You’d never be able to work for yourself.
  • You don’t have “what it takes” to get what you want.

That certainty is holding you back. So sometimes, you need to doubt yourself in order to succeed. Sometimes you need to be confused, or uncertain about yourself, to reach your fullest potential.

Because I can almost certainly guarantee you, that what you think you’re capable of, is much less than what you’re really capable of.

So what I’d like to invite you to do, is to doubt everything about yourself.

  • Doubt that you’re not worth it.
  • Doubt that you don’t have what it takes.
  • Doubt that what you think about yourself is true.
  • Doubt that you can’t achieve whatever it is you want.
  • Doubt that you can’t move past the stuck place you are.

When you doubt yourself, you open a window. When you’re uncertain you create a possibility in your mind that previously, did not exist.

It’s in that moment of confusion, that something beautiful happens. You open yourself up to alternatives that seemed unreal before.

The truth is, those possibilities were always there. Those alternate, more desirable paths were always there, but you blocked them out in your mind, because you were certain they didn’t exist.

So doubt everything you think you know about yourself. It’s not true, you just made it up.

You can make up something else if you want. Because the truth about you is magnificent.

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Dalibor Ruži? - Personal Standards September 2, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Or even better, be sure that all your can’t sentences are falsehood. Only deathbed can make you wrong and if deathbed makes you wrong it’s not important. :)

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Armen Shirvanian September 2, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Hi Jonathan.

Adding this extra doubt for items we are worried about helps to loosen their effects on our action-taking. If one doubts “that you can’t move past the stuck place you are”, they might see that they aren’t really stuck. This doubt is enough to provide some extra hope. I see benefit in what you said here.

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Cath Duncan September 2, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Spot-on! It’s much easier to learn, change and create from a state of uncertainty and confusion than from one of certainty and thinking you know it all.

Cath

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Evan September 2, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Thanks, this is well put.

However, I doubt “So doubt everything you think you know about yourself. It’s not true, you just made it up.”

I think there are parts of us we can’t change if we want to be happy. It is worth finding out what they are I think.

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David Turnbull September 2, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Hmmm. Definitely a unique approach to doubt. It can be very helpful when seemingly negative concepts can be spun in a positive light. :-)

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Greg September 2, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Wonderful mental exercise to overcoming barriers.

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Karen September 2, 2009 at 6:39 pm

This is so interesting… doubt has such an negative connotation (usually) but I love the way you use it in order to shift your way of thinking. Byron Katie’s brilliant concept of “The Work” is very similar- turn around every idea that you hold as true and question it. Is it possible that something you believe could not be true? I think doubt is essential to a well-rounded, and inquisitive mind.
:)
Karen

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Alaya Morning September 2, 2009 at 6:49 pm

“So doubt everything you think you know about yourself. It’s not true, you just made it up.”

In his Abundance for Life course, Paul Scheele talks about this as living in trance – that we’re living within self-suggested boundaries just as a hypnotist might provide for entertainment purposes. (The girl who can’t for the life of her get her seat unglued from the chair she’s sitting on.)

It’s time to question the attitude of “absoluteness” from which we approach our reality.

Thanks for another great post.

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Katie West/The Levity Coach September 2, 2009 at 7:38 pm

I am big on getting to the “why the heck not?” mentality.
It is why I do the whole laughter thing. Once I started laughing as a practice, I actually stopped caring about any limitations I was imposing on myself. This practice has acted like an armor for the doubting thoughts.

Instead, I just laugh and kick ass towards my dreams. It is still blowing my mind about the power of the whole laughter and levity thing.

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alternaview September 2, 2009 at 8:19 pm

This is a very interesting approach. I think it is right on point and for me it reinforces the effectiveness of questioning assumptions and beliefs we buy into simply because we haven’t ever decided to question them. We really do need to question those beliefs in our life that are holding us back when we can’t really explain why we believe them. We should be very skeptical and as you suggested, doubt their validity.

Great point.

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Thekla Richter September 2, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Beautiful perspective shifting. I came across a quote today that resonates with this:

“It’s not who we are that holds us back, it’s who we think we’re not.”
- Michael Nolan

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Malcolm September 2, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Wow. I love this. Such a great concept. “Doubt your self-imposed limits”, essentially.

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Daryl Furuyama September 2, 2009 at 11:09 pm

It’s the call to adventure in the hero’s journey. Your complete world that you are CERTAIN of is broken and you are shown a new world to explore.

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Kaizan September 3, 2009 at 2:08 am

Great concept!

Actually what you are saying is doubt the negative stuff you believe about yourself, right?

Going around doubting good stuff probably isn’t that helpful..

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JS Dixon September 3, 2009 at 4:28 am

the hardest chains to break are often the ones that aren’t even really there. When you realize that you have been struggling against nothing real, it gets easy to walk right past the illusion of your false limits.

Heck, how can we know our limits until we’ve tried them? and how can we know for sure, until we’ve committed to not give up?

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Eric September 3, 2009 at 6:21 am

“So doubt everything you think you know about yourself. It’s not true, you just made it up.

You can make up something else if you want. Because the truth about you is magnificent.” -Jonathan Mead

That’s one for my “Quote” file.

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Kent @ The Financial Philosopher September 3, 2009 at 6:45 am

This reminds me (and I mean this as a high compliment) of Rene Descartes’ thinking.

Descartes, who is best known for his saying, “I think, therefore I am,” decided he should “reject as if absolutely false everything in which I could imagine the least doubt, in order to see if I was left believing anything that was entirely indubitable.”

In other words, Descartes labeled all that was doubtful as false until nothing remained but that which was not doubtful — the truth. This logical process challenged the skeptics and would become the bedrock of philosophical and scientific methodology henceforth.

Once doubt is removed, all that remains is the truth — who you are — your ideal self…

Kent

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Diggy - Upgradereality.com September 3, 2009 at 9:26 am

Hey Jonothan!

Great post! I think the best way is to get angry at yourself, but in a constructive manner.

This usually only happens after much effort, and many failed attempts, thinking you are not good enough, thinking you will never get there, and then one day you are just so tired of not being good enough that you get angry, and think to yourself “what is this nonsense” and boom, you propel yourself forward and achieve what you always thought was not possible :)

Cheers!
Diggy

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Melody September 3, 2009 at 10:07 am

I love this idea, and the way you’ve expressed it. I wholeheartedly agree with it, and know from personal experience that it works.

My whole life, I always thought of myself as “this type of person,” “the type of person who does this,” “the type of person who doesn’t do that,” etc. It really limited my ability to accomplish anything, or go for any dreams that were outside of the realm of what “a person like me would do.”

What a bunch of crap! All the positive changes that have been happening in my life were only possible because I stopped believing my own definitions of myself.

Nowadays, the only thing I intend to be defined by for the rest of my life are my values. And they all can really be summed up in one: Love.

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Jonathan September 3, 2009 at 1:18 pm

@ Evan: You’re absolutely right, I think there are definitely unchangeable elements to all of us. In that case, you can doubt them, and then become certain again. =]

@ Diggy: My favorite lines of one of Rage Against the Machine’s songs is “Your anger is a gift.” I think what you say is very true. Sometimes you have to be sick of being sick.

@ Thekla: I love that.

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jonathanfigaro September 4, 2009 at 9:22 am

Yes you should doubt thing about yourself you cannot accept. Believe only thoughts that reign supreme with positivity.

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Jai Kai - SharingSuccess.tv September 4, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Yes
Confusion, such as where you should be or what you should do can definitely lead to new alternatives and possibilities.

For example, if you are walking up a mountain trail and you doubt that it is the right way you may be come confused which will allow other paths and trails to become more visible to you.

Choose an alternate path and explore the adventure. Life and Success is truly an adventure.
Thanks for the post

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Celes | The Personal Excellence Blog September 5, 2009 at 4:32 am

Jonathan, this is a very innovative way of reframing. Reminds me that cynics can never be true cynics until they doubt their own cynicism. Thanks for the eye-opening post :)

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steve September 5, 2009 at 8:35 am

thanks for this post! my whole life i’ve been challenging my parents & other adults who would say that “professional football is not a realistic career” or “professional bmx is not a realistic career” (or, more recently, the same with music & poetry).

i think what you’re saying here is true: if we can break these limitations down & start to question again whether it is possible, then we can at least inspire ourselves enough to work at it. because when the critics & naysayers actually get into YOUR head & convince YOU that it’s impossible, that’s when your dreams become unrealistic. because if you just treat it as a far-off dream, it stays a far-off dream. but if you believe in it & work at it, then it’s possible again.

if we can dare to dream again, even just in our own heads (whether or not we tell anybody else), then i think we have a chance to actually do what we want to.

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Staci J. Shelton September 6, 2009 at 9:58 am

I love this!! What a great perspective to adopt! We believe the negative things that people tell us. We’re not enough, we can’t make it, we can’t become, we’ll never be…

Thank you for this encouraging post!

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Faramarz - Anxious Candy September 7, 2009 at 3:36 am

Short but good post jonathan, it is very apt. They say beliefs are the cornerstone of success and that the first step to changing limiting beliefs is to create doubt that they are really true

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Plip September 7, 2009 at 3:50 am

Some nice advice, I’ll make sure to keep this in mind the next time I’m feeling extremely down about something. :)

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Russ Smith September 7, 2009 at 7:55 am

“Because I can almost certainly guarantee you, that what you think you’re capable of, is much less than what you’re really capable of.”

I really like this post, and it’s ideas. I will definitely keep this, and remind myself of it. I think it’s a novel idea. Thanks for sharing!

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Jodi at Joy Discovered September 8, 2009 at 5:16 am

“When you doubt yourself, you open a window” — this is a great observation. Anytime we can cause ourselves to look at something another way, and perhaps consider new possibilities we’re in for a treat! The smallest shift can lead to amazing new frontiers!

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Lynn September 9, 2009 at 11:55 am

Your post reminds me of the 81 short poems in the Tao Te Ching. 26 centuries ago, author Lao Tzu urged readers to drop expectations in order to expand reality along with expanding the mind. Part of poem number one says:
without expectation
one will always perceive the subtlety
with expectation
one will always perceive the boundary

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Eneza September 12, 2009 at 1:23 am

I love the last statement.

“You can make up something else if you want. Because the truth about you is magnificent.”

You just made my day.

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Kilanko Seun September 14, 2009 at 7:09 pm

There is more to us than meets the eye. So, we have got to really doubt all false thoughts and imaginations.
Brilliant work! love it!

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Slinky September 24, 2009 at 1:01 pm

This is what I am certain of:

I know who I was.
I know who I am now.
I can never know who I will become.

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José July 23, 2010 at 1:08 am

If you are really enlighten then please tell me. Why are you trying to make money with publicity on your website?

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