A client of mine recently took a big promotion that required she move to Los Angeles from the Midwest. She was all gung-ho and excited about it—until the fear kicked in. The questions started to flow in:
"But will I be good at it?"
"I'm managing people older and more experienced than me… will they respect me? And can I handle them if they don't?"
"What if I screw up and come back to Chicago with my tail between my legs?"
How familiar these fears are! A level-up in any life area can feel scary, like it's too much of a stretch. But as a life coach, I knew what to ask her.
Because the answers to overcome self-doubt are always within us, we just have to ask the right questions.
1. Has there been another time in your life when you were uncertain about a big change and things worked out?
This is one of my favorite questions because we allow our past fears to inform our current fears. Think back on your life: What have you overcome that scared you? A promotion, a move, a new relationship, a loss, a public talk?
From big to small, recalling our past achievements reminds us of how capable and strong we damn well are. Put your victory loops in your head to drown out the apprehension. The more specific you can be with details and reliving your past successes, the better!
2. If you were to step outside of yourself for a moment and speak to yourself like a loving friend, what would you say?
We are our own toughest critic—we would probably never let a friend talk to us the way we talk to ourselves. So think about that for a second: If you spoke to yourself like a trusted, kind, honest bestie, what words would come out of your mouth? In my client's case, she said she'd tell herself, "You are smart. You can totally rock this. You are ready for the next step. Get excited, woman!"
The next time something scares you, what can you tell yourself? Maybe it's no big deal, this too will pass, or you've got this!
3. How can you see this scary situation differently?
The next time you have a job interview, instead of seeing it as an intimidating meeting, think, This is a great time to shine and let the world see my strengths! The next time you attend an event where you don't know a soul, instead of making a beeline for the vodka, try thinking, There are probably lots of people here who don't know anyone. Maybe I can help put someone else at ease and even make a friend!
Even when it's time to call to haggle your rent, return an item to a store, or tell your roommate he needs to be tidier, you can think, This is a wonderful opportunity for me to practice my self-confidence and use my valuable voice. Almost any uncomfortable situation or change can be reframed into an opportunity with a dose of perspective. It's rarely as serious and dramatic as your thoughts would allow you to believe.
The most important thing to remember in any new or seemingly threatening situation is: You've done this before. Same stuff, different circumstances. And hey, you've gotten through everything life's thrown at you so far, right?
Susie Moore is Greatist's life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!