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
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.
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.
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.
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!