Apr 282011
Crippling Self Doubt by Meredith Farmer

Have you ever had to struggle with self-doubt and fears? I am sure all of us have had this experience in our lives. While a little doubt is useful and healthy in guarding against complacency and overconfidence, too much doubt can be crippling. The problem with crippling doubt is that fear paralyzes our actions.

Instead of seizing opportunities, we hesitate. We do not trust our ability to go forth and shape our future. Instead of growing with wisdom and experience, we remain in our comfort zones. We are unwilling to risk failure and setbacks. Thus, when the crucial moments arise where we have no place to run or hide; is it any wonder that we experience crushing failure? Not only do doubts hinder us, it robs us of the opportunities to gain the experience needed to deal with problems. How then are we to deal with doubts in an effective manner?

Hinata Hyuga and Self-Doubt

A good friend of mine once asked me why I liked Hinata, a character from the popular manga Naruto. To her, Hinata was a weak character, frail and full of self-doubts. In truth, this is not a fair assessment. Hinata did begin in this manner due to her circumstances. She was born the oldest child of an elite family. As such, her father expected her to succeed him as head of the clan. And so, he put her through gruelling training to prepare her for the role. But her slow progress disappointed her father whom deemed her a failure. Instead, he made her younger sister his heir and left Hinata in the care of her teacher. It is therefore not surprising that Hinata’s rejection by her father affected her confidence. But she did not remain this way forever.

Here lies the quality I admire most about her – her ability to change. She had the will and courage to triumph over her fears and doubts. The turning point in Hinata’s life came when she met Naruto. His example encouraged her to believe in herself. As a result, she worked hard to improve her skills and confidence. But despite her growing love for him, she was too shy to admit her feelings.

At this point, fate intervened and gave her a unique opportunity. The villain Pain and his terrorist organization invaded the village. Pain even managed to overpower Naruto. By this point, Naruto’s power had surpassed everyone else’s in the village. No one dared to come to his aid because it meant certain death. Despite being aware of this, Hinata rushed to his side to try to save him. Whatever self-doubts she may have had in his presence vanished as she prepared to fight a very important battle.

Hinata VS Pain


6 Ways to Manage Self-Doubt

1. Inspiration

The catalyst for Hinata’s change was Naruto, the village outcast. Although people despised him, Naruto had big dreams. He aimed to become the leader of the village one day. And no matter how others scoffed at this idea, he refused to give up even though he had nothing and no one to rely on. Instead, he spent every waking moment honing his skills to achieve his goal. Inspired by Naruto’s resolve, Hinata also began to better herself.

If your strength alone is not enough to overcome your doubts, seek inspiration. There is no shame in drawing strength from people whom you admire. They might be someone you know or some character from history or fiction. Having a role model helps in times of doubt. In the midst of darkness, their example serves as a light and guide on how we should act. This often goes a long way in dealing with our self-doubts.

2. Higher or Greater Purpose

For many years, Hinata harboured a one-sided love for Naruto. Whenever she was in his presence, she was too shy to speak properly, let alone behave in a normal way. Unfortunately, Naruto was too dense to realize this. But whatever doubts Hinata had disappeared when Naruto’s life was in danger. Aware that she was not Pain’s match, she still resolved to do what she could to save him. Such was her courage that she confessed her love for Naruto because she was prepared to die to free him. In the face of danger that threatened the man she loved, Hinata’s self-doubts vanished.

It is hard to exist just for ourselves. Without loved ones to share in our joys and sorrows, life has little meaning. Without some greater purpose to work towards, what we do can be uninspired. When we live only for ourselves, we magnify everything, especially our fears and doubts. This is simply because we focus too much on ourselves.

As such, having a purpose greater than ourselves is a great way to overcome doubt. When other people or some great work depends on us, there is little time to worry or doubt ourselves. There is only enough room to do what we must. A good example would be parents who would do anything to protect their children from harm. Such is the power of having a higher purpose.

3. Planning, Action and Hard Work

Doubt can only be removed by action. –Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Despite having a role model and higher purpose, Hinata still had to work hard to overcome her self-doubts. At first, Naruto’s example inspired her to train harder. But as her skills improved, her confidence increased as well. Through long hours of practice, she achieved a competency that helped her to believe in herself. Such was her confidence that she had the courage to face Pain to rescue Naruto.

Doubt comes from uncertainty, while confidence comes from certainty. The only way to have certainty is through experience. As Goethe rightly suggests, only action can remove doubt because only action gives us experience. If you are uncertain about something, it helps to have a clear goal and a good plan to reach it. Then, it is a matter of trial and error. As you execute your plan, you will encounter problems. But in the process, you will know what works and what does not. As long as you focus on the solutions and adapt accordingly, bit by bit, you will remove your doubts and gain confidence. When you do everything right, success is as natural as the sun rising from the east. This is what the ancients deemed effortless success.

Shaping Your Destiny by Tolgakosta

4. Forming Your Own Conclusions

During her early years, Hinata’s father rejected and regarded her as a failure. I can only imagine how damaging this must have been for her psyche. Because she grew up in her father’s world where success was strength on his terms, her “failure” only served to reinforce her self-doubts. Hinata had no other worldview until she met Naruto. Despite the tremendous odds he faced as an outcast, Naruto remained optimistic. He refused to accept his lot and believed strongly that his fate lay in his hands. His actions and choices would determine his own destiny. After meeting Naruto, Hinata made a fateful choice. Given the option of two worldviews, she wisely chose the one that empowered her.

Much of our beliefs and doubts are not wholly our own. In fact, many external views influence our thinking. This is why it is so important to be aware of and examine our thoughts with care. If we do not, we may well end up living life according to another person’s flawed conclusions. This would be a true tragedy because we could never reach our fullest potential. Instead, we settle for mediocre lives because we allow the views of others to limit us. In Asian culture, it is common for parents to call their children useless or failures. One can only imagine how this will affect their lives later.

I am not suggesting that we ignore the views of others. I firmly believe in the need to listen to advice because we do not know everything. But in doing so, we must have a mind of our own so that we form our own conclusions about how to act and adapt. It would do us good to remember that the greatest harm can come from the best of intentions. It is always easy for others with no emotional investment to talk. Yet talk is cheap. People can give you a thousand and one reasons why your dream will fail. But it is only when you accept someone else’s view that your dream is impossible that it is all truly over.

Instead, look around you. Many of the things you see and take for granted were once impossible. Since the sky is the limit for what you can achieve, it would not be wise to allow others to set the ceiling for you. Remember, the moment we open our minds to the impossible, we can achieve miracles.

5. Mindset

A large part of Hinata’s self-doubts stemmed from her negative thinking. With her father’s dismissal of her as a failure and weak, over time, this became her very self-image. It was not that Hinata lacked talent or potential. What she lacked was the proper mindset and drive needed to overcome adversity. Her meeting of Naruto changed all that with time. Slowly, Hinata began to adopt his never say die attitude. Instead of focusing on the problems, she learned to focus on the solutions. This helped her to embrace her failures and learn from her mistakes. In the process, she gained greater confidence as she began to take control of her life. Her newfound outlook also changed her relationship with her father who encouraged her and showed his support.

Much of our self-doubt has to do with our mindset and inner dialogue. In truth, our self-doubt is often the result of ineffective thinking. In life, we are bound to face problems and challenges that stretch us beyond our comfort zones. This is normal and there are no exceptions. Yet this is not a bad thing. In fact, it is an opportunity for growth if we can master the lessons that life has for us. The moment we learn to see failure and mistakes as a natural part of success the likelier we are to succeed. The more successes we have as we adapt and change our actions, the more confident we become. The more confident we become, the less self-doubts we have. This is the power of having an effective mindset.

6. Living in the Now

If you watch the video above, you would notice that Hinata did not have any self-doubt during her fight with Pain. In fact, the danger that Pain posed to her life and Naruto’s forced her to focus on the present moment. There was absolutely no room for any self-doubt on her part. She simply did not have the time for it.

The good news is we do not have to get involved in a life and death situation to live in the now. There is an easier way to manage our self-doubts and that is meditation. Self-doubt often projects into the future. Our minds keep on going on at high speed about all the things that can go wrong. As a result, we are lost in our own brooding and unable to focus on the present.

But when you have done all you can do to deal with your doubts, to worry further is pointless. You have already done your best. All that remains is to wait for the fruition of your plan and efforts. To facilitate this process, meditation helps. It brings you to your calm centre and clears your mind so that you can focus on the present and adapt as needed.

Meditation by Sean Kelly

Taking Action

For those of you who are curious, Hinata survived the battle without any major injuries. Her sacrifice caused Naruto to unleash his power to defeat Pain. At this point of writing, the story has left their relationship in the air. That is a pity because I hope they get together one day.

Do you struggle with self-doubt? Do you believe that self-doubt is something that we can overcome? What experiences have you had? What are the methods you use to deal with it? Do share your thoughts and comments below! :)

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  23 Responses to “Dealing with Self-Doubt: Musings of the Vizier”

  1. Irving, What a powerful post. There is so much valuable content, I will have to read it several times. I’m sure I will have many responses, but the first response that came to my mind was not about me, but rather about my foster daughter. She struggles with crippling self-doubt. It is not always easy to see because she has a gregarious personality and seems so confident, but she repeatedly sabotages her own success. She grew up hearing the message that she was not wanted, she was worthless, she was a burden, she was stupid, she would never amount to anything, she was nothing but trouble.

    This is so tragic because she really has a huge heart and a beautiful spirit and so much potential. Yet her doubt is such a huge obstacle for her. I’m going to print your article and give it to her. Hopefully it will provide some inspiration (#1) to follow through with some of your other excellent suggestions!
    Galen Pearl recently posted..Be an Eagle!My Profile

    • Hi Galen,

      It’s good to be back. I was down with a bad flu the past week and try as I might, I simply could not concentrate enough to come up with a good post last week.

      When I first set out to write this post, I began with an idea about writing about doubt. This was something that I struggle with from time to time. As the article progressed, I remembered Hinata. I love characters that are memorable and I did have a draft somewhere where I intended to write about her fight with Pain. My idea then was to write about love, but I never got round to doing it. But somehow when I linked that fight to this article, it all fell into place as the words came and I just went with the flow and wrote this article instead.

      I am glad you enjoyed the article. I personally learned a lot from Hinata’s example.

      Rejection is never easy to bear and I too have suffered my fair share as I grew up, so I know the pain it causes. I am sorry to hear that your foster daughter struggles with crippling self-doubt, but I sincerely believe that we all have the power to change. We just need the right reasons and the proper strategy. Hmm while printing my article is well and good, I do hope that you let her watch the video somehow. I feel that the video pretty much crystallized my understanding of self-doubt for me and that my words merely serve as a complement. I hope that your foster daughter will one day be able to overcome her self-doubt and unleash her full potential. Doing so will make her a greater blessing to the lives of the people around her. :)

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments and constant support! :)

  2. Hi Irving,
    Yes I really know about self-doubt. It held me back in so many ways. I allowed it to overcome my courage. But there comes a time when the deed is more important than the feelings of self-doubt. I knew I had to act despite all my self-doubt. I still had those feelings, but I wouldn’t allow it to cripple me. You are right, it’s about choice. Self-doubt doesn’t go away by doing nothing about it. Thanks for this great post Irving. Your work is really terrific!
    Dandy recently posted..From overwhelmed to calmMy Profile

    • Hi Dandy,

      Courage is not the absence of doubt and fear but having the strength and will to act in spite of it. As you have rightly stated, we should never let doubt cripple us. And it is a choice we can make if we learn to manage doubt better. There are bound to be time when we experience self-doubt, but it is also possible to manage these moments in a better way to our benefit.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  3. Ah, Naruto. I loved this show (what little I was able to see of it).

    I tend to be like you: I find the characters that most everyone else despises, and I find their redeeming qualities and relate with them in powerful ways.

    Self-doubt has always been my Achilles heel. Like Hinata, I had a father who crippled my confidence, and I didn’t understand about mindset, either. I just thought that how others labeled me was how I was, and I accepted their evaluations. It took me a long time to learn the difference.

    But now, when adversity gets to be too great for me to overcome on my own, those old doubts creep back in.

    Delena Silverfox recently posted..Super Green Hosting Coupon CodesMy Profile

    • Hi Delena,

      Naruto is a great show. But I tend to read more of the manga than watching the anime. Whichever medium we choose, the story is still good.

      I think there is much we can learn from the underdogs. I have always admired their struggle against great obstacles. In many ways, these characters are generally more human to me and as you put it, easier to relate to in powerful ways.

      Growing up in an Asian society, I too struggled with self-doubt because of societal norms. But like you, I eventually learned to understand and overcome my self-doubts at a later stage in my life.

      I don’t think we can be really free of self-doubts. There are times when we can get overwhelmed, but a little self-doubt is good, it helps us to be more prudent in our actions and not become complacent. If our doubts become too much to handle, it would be best to do all we can and remember that this moment will pass as well.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  4. Irving,
    What a great story. I don’t follow the one you referred to but I loved reading you tell it and use it for an example. Your suggestions for overcoming self doubt were excellent too!
    Angela Artemis recently posted..How to Find Your Own Personal Pot of GoldMy Profile

    • Hi Angela,

      I am glad you enjoyed the story! :)

      I always find it easier to get the message across with stories and I chose this story because I admire Hinata so much. In many ways her character taught me to manage self-doubts better.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  5. Irving: Really great post filled with so much great information and wisdom. I think we all need to have an approach and be aware of the things we can do to manage through self doubt and our fears and concerns. I thought all the points you shared here were spot on. Thanks for passing along your wisdom.
    Sibyl – alternaview recently posted..Quit Doing This One Thing- And You Will Always SucceedMy Profile

  6. Irving,

    This is an amazing story. What struck me the most strongly is all the interweaving circumstances that come together to create our current situation. Just like in this story, sometimes it’s the biggest challenge that makes us stand up and drop all our doubts. The points you enumerate are all vital. I especially resonate with forming one’s own conclusion, a challenging task in itself, and being in the present moment.

    Thanks for these wise words.
    Sandra – Always Well Within recently posted..Worried- Nervous or Stuck Release Yourself with AirMy Profile

    • Hi Sandra,

      Life is more interconnected than we realize. But often, we lack the awareness and the insights to see all the interconnecting links. Our awareness of events is finite after all. But if we should be in the right place and time to make the connections, then we should seize the moments as they arise and not let self-doubts hold us back. As you have rightly observed, sometimes it is the biggest challenges when we have our backs against the wall that forces us to stand up and drop all our doubts. There is nothing like great danger to make us act instead of over thinking.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  7. quite a rich post Vizer, the mindset part is also so true, i always believed that self confidence is all about changing the mindset. Thank you and keep in touch :)

    • Hi Farouk,

      I am glad that you enjoyed the post. Having the right mindset is the key to making better choices in life. When we make better choices in life, we become more confident naturally.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  8. Irving,

    While I do not watch Naruto but I have heard of it and that did not stopped me for getting the message from your post. I have gone through with self doubt like many of us. Taking small steps towards erasing the doubt and back to self confidence is the key! I like your detailed post as always.

    Zengirl @ Heart and Mind recently posted..Moral Story- How To Fit Important Things First In Your LifeMy Profile

    • Hi Preeti,

      Yeah Naruto is pretty famous. I was surprised that the Feng Shui master Joey Yap is a fan of Naruto as well. But it just goes to show that everyone loves a good story. In writing this post I tried to provide enough background information so that readers will know what is going on even if they have not read or watched Naruto. What is important is the lessons contained in this particular scenario.

      You are perfectly right in your approach. It is not easy to remove self-doubt all at once. Sometimes it is better to break it down into little manageable pieces so that we can take small steps to erase self-doubts. When we tackle the problems that cause our self-doubts and take incremental steps towards greater confidence, one day we will find we have less self-doubts to begin with. The key is consistency.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  9. This sounds like a great Japanese cartoon. Thanks for introducing it. It appears to have a lot of values that I would like my kids to know about. My kids are currently watching the manga series Deltora Quest. They enjoy stories about the unlikely hero who overcome all odds, magic and transformation. Is Naruto available on DVD?

    As adults, we have got much to learn from these shows too. It’s important to be able to see the connection between reel and real life. Watching cartoons with great messages is a wonderful idea!
    Evelyn Lim recently posted..Self Love Series- Love Myself Poem by Charlie ChaplinMy Profile

    • Hi Evelyn,

      It is a great Japanese cartoon. Having read comics and watched cartoons from east and west, I find that for some reason, Japanese comics and cartoons seem to be more moving to me. I am afraid I haven’t watched Deltora Quest though haha! There are simply too many out there for me to tackle so I have to be selective.

      I definitely agree with you about seeing the connection between reel and real life. As long as it is a great story, I don’t mind if it is history or cartoons.

      Yes Naruto is available on DVD. Here are some more links that you might find useful.

      Online Manga: This is where I read Naruto and Bleach every Thursday when it comes out. If your kids want to read the entire manga from beginning to the current one, they can find it all here.

      Naruto Wiki: This is a wikipedia for the Naruto world. Nowadays there seems to be a wikipedia for everything. I usually refer to this wiki to get an overview of the characters without having to read the manga or watch the anime. With this wiki, you can be an expert at Naruto in half the time haha!

      With these links you can be as up to date about Naruto as the Vizier! ;)

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  10. Irving,

    I recently had a situation similar to the one you describe happen to me. Other people hit me with their negative thoughts and connotations and I began to doubt my abilities just based upon what others said about me. I had developed low self worth and experienced a lack of confidence even though I was doing what I considered the best work of my life. I now am learning to never doubt myself nor my abilities because I see them as a gift that I don’t want to squander. Thanks for this article. I really needed this.

    • Hi Frank,

      Doubts can hit us at any point in our lives. It could come from within or without. What matters when we face self-doubt is our ability to manage it well. By taking measures to actively deal with self-doubt, we can prevent it from crippling us and make it more likely to succeed at what we are trying to do. I am glad that you realize that your abilities are gifts that you should not squander. That is one of the pillars of self-confidence.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  11. Irving, doubt is a common thread in all of us. It’s easy to fall prey to it. And doubt actually does serve a purpose. It can remind us to be efficient in what we are working on and to analyze things so we don’t miss something. It can also keep us open-minded in knowing that we may be wrong about something from time to time. But that is generally the extent of the positive purposes of doubt, and I dare say most of us don’t live there. Most of us use doubt the wrong way, overanalyzing and – as you say – caving to ‘negative beliefs.’ That serves no purpose and we must do away with it.

    On the other thing, it’s interesting what we can learn from cartoons, isn’t it? :)
    Bryan Thompson recently posted..Are You Investing In YourselfMy Profile

    • Hi Bryan,

      You summarized my points on doubts perfectly! It is not easy, but we can manage doubts and use it to help us succeed. In fact, this is something we should all invest time and effort in to master.

      I am a big fan of comics and anime. To me it is not so much the medium that matters but the story and the lessons that count. If I can learn from a great story whether it is in the form of a cartoon or a comic, I am all for it. In fact, some of the cartoon characters leave a very lasting impression on me like Optimus Prime. I always did like heroes who struggled against great odds. ;)

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

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