What is a Self-Doubt Roadblock?
A Self-Doubt Roadblock (SDR) is the term I've given to the thoughts and behaviors that take over our best intentions when we are working on a goal. They have one purpose -- to get us to stop moving forward with our goal work and abandon any chances of success.
SDRs are tools used by the Primal Brain, the least developed part of our brain, that is responsible for our survival drive, instincts, and behaviors.
The Primal Brain thrives on that which is familiar and loves it when we stay in our comfort cave where we are safe.
Straying into seemingly dangerous territory by working on something that merely stretches us sets the Primal Brain into a tizzy. It responds in a myriad of ways to try to stop us from moving forward, including sending us the thoughts and behaviors associated with the SDRs.
When you run up against one of the SDRs, you'll know because the work you are doing becomes very uncomfortable. Your inner dialogue becomes discouraging. You become easily distracted and begin to question if you are on the right path (or if you want to be on the path at all anymore).
The Big 6 Self-Doubt Roadblocks
There are many different kinds of SDRs, but the following are the Big 6, or the ones I see most of my clients struggle with:
Procrastination: Procrastination is delaying or avoiding the work that you need to do to meet your goal. We procrastinate not because we are avoiding the project, but because we want to avoid the discomfort that comes with doing hard things. Procrastination is probably the #1 SDR I see my clients face. Putting tasks off until tomorrow often leads to putting them off forever.
Perfectionism: Perfectionism is demanding A+ work from yourself and nothing less. It is both unrealistic and unhelpful. We often avoid doing our work because it takes an abundance of energy to deliver it to our highest standards. We often fear judgment from others and avoid this through our own exceedingly high expectations of ourselves and our work.
Imposter Syndrome: Imposter Syndrome is a feeling of unworthiness or feeling like a fraud. When we experience Imposter Syndrome while doing our goal work, we may think thoughts like "No one will like it," "I'm too old to do this," or "I'm not educated/experienced enough." Imposter Syndrome can include a lack of self-confidence and negative self-talk because we tell ourselves things that simply are not true.
Confusion: When you don't know where to begin or what to do next, you've landed in the SDR state of confusion. Our Primal Brain loves to keep us confused by focusing our attention on all of the things we need to do, instead of the next thing. We spin in the luxury of confusion instead of sitting down to figure out our next step because the Primal Brain makes figuring it out seem like an impossible feat. Journaling about all of the things you could do and then choosing one to take action on is a great way to get past this SDR.
Comparison: Comparing your work to someone else's success -- how it looks so easy for them so why is it so hard for you? -- is not helpful. By making us feel small, the Primal Brain is doing its best to get us to quit. I often tell my clients, "Don't compare your Chapter 1 with someone else's Chapter 20." It is easy to forget that the person you are admiring was once a beginner too. Give yourself credit for how far you've come so far and focus on enjoying the journey and the person you are becoming as you do your hard thing.
Shoulds: Spend the day counting up all of the 'shoulds' you tell yourself and you'll likely lose count. Shoulds are those internal rules we've created for ourselves that we align every decision with. The problem with shoulds is that much of the time, we didn't choose them for ourselves and they are not helping us become the person we want to be. Many of our shoulds come from societal conditioning, our family, our education, and our past habits. When you hear a should, stop and ask yourself if it is true or if it just feels true.
As you go on your journey from the start line to the finish line, remember that SDRs are a part of the deal.
Doing anything outside of the comfort cave by stretching yourself will lead to the Primal Brain getting nervous and resorting to using some of the SDRs to try to get you to stop.
Experiencing an SDR does NOT mean you're doing anything wrong.
Quite the contrary.
Running into an SDR means that you are actually on the right track.
Take time to recommit to your goal, take a deep breath, and keep showing up for your success.
You WILL get there as long as you keep working at it.
Jen Laffin is a Self-Doubt & Empowerment Coach for women, a master teacher, host of The Flight School Podcast, a possible thinker, and a recovering procrastinator. She teaches women how to get the results their inner critic is telling them they can't so that they can do the things that they've always wanted. To learn more, visit www.jenlaffin.com, or find Jen on Linkedin and Instagram.