Self-doubt has been one of the most dis-empowering negative traits in the humans. Although every human being is capable of achieving of so much more in this world he curtails himself by bringing in doubt about his abilities towards accomplishing any task.
There are a few who no matter how bad they are at a particular task tend to stick to it and make it work until they have reached their final goal of perfecting that skill or art. These people are the lucky few who have not let their self-doubt cripple them and make them complacent.
Although the people who do achieve their highest potential have self-doubt while attempting any new task they have a natural or a learned behavioral response which enables them to overcome the negative effects of self-doubt.
Some people have a natural ability to keep going in spite of all the fears, doubts and worries which come during the journey towards their goal. But for most it is a learned behavior which helps them overcome this dis-empowering and power-sucking feeling which constantly nags them about their disability to accomplish something big.
There are many tools and techniques which can help us overcome this. These tools have been developed by the scientists through extensive research over a period of time, sometimes for more than a decade. The results which they have garnered have rendered them to find out the common traits and responses which are habitual in the people who seem to be going on and on regardless of what the external circumstance throw at them.
Also, the scientific community has been able to create mental exercises which can allow any person to make changes in his brain’s neural pathways so that whenever a self-doubt or lack of confidence strikes in he can respond to it in a constructive way and not get frozen by its magnificence.
We have to understand that when something is a skill it can be learned and applied by anyone who is willing to put in the effort. When you get started at any skill, at first, you are terrible at it. But eventually you get so used to it and get so better at it that it becomes a second nature for you.
We all have learned physical skills over the years but have neglected our mental skills which are of prime importance while dealing with such dis-empowering traits in us. When we learn these skills sailing through those negative emotions and feelings will be as easy as driving a car or brushing your teeth.
Dr. Srini Pillay, a professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School gives us a unique technique which can be applied anywhere and anytime when we feel overwhelmed by the negative self-talk generating doubt in our abilities to complete the task satisfactorily or even get started at it.
The Technique abbreviates to CIRCA
CIRCA stands for Chunking – Ignoring – Reality Check – Control Check – Attention Shift.
We will delve deeper into each one of these to understand how to use them in our day to day lives and benefit immensely from its power.
Chunking – Whenever we set ourselves a big bold goal to achieve our mind suddenly becomes conscious of the magnificence of that goal. It starts coming up with all the reasons as to how this goal is not possible to be achieved or what hurdles might come in our way while setting sail towards this destination.
Chunking helps us to break down this big goal or dream into manageable steps to be achieved every month, every week and every day. When we follow this path, amygdala, the fear center of our brain, relaxes and reduces the volume of anxiety hormones being produced. This helps us to relax and become grounded again so that we can make rational choices and bring in logic at play.
For the unlucky few, a minor trigger can lead to amygdala hijack which is an overwhelming emotional response for a perceived threat. This requires clinical therapy to manage and overcome its effects.
Once the anxiety has waned off you can then start taking small steps towards the first chunk which you have decided upon. When you complete it you can move on to the next chunk and so on. Your focus while working on one chunk should be only on that task and not on the big goal. This helps your brain from keeping your anxiety center from activating again.
Ignoring – This steps helps you to instantly stop all the mental chatter, most of which is going on beneath your conscious awareness. When you apply this phase you will find that you have become aware of the mental chatter which has been going on inside you for a very long time.
All you have to do in this phase it take a nice deep breath counting up till about 15 – 20 and holding it for a comfortable time. Then release the air though your mouth as if you are blowing through a straw. When you do this breathing exercise your mind will quickly stop all that chatter and start focusing on the breathing that you are doing.
This state of awareness is called Mindfulness. You are completely aware of what is going on in your mind and you allow the thoughts to come and go without reacting to them. You just respond to their presence and acknowledge them. After some time, they dissipate on their own and you move on with your task.
Most people keep resisting some form of thoughts and emotional responses to a certain stimuli. This will only lead to more and more pressure building up due to that emotion or thought being held and not let out through some way. While practicing mindfulness you may experience a variety of emotions. Instead of holding back just let them flow and get rid of them. You will be surprised that after a while this pressure has waned off and you are feeling lighter.
Reality Check – Reality check is a phase where you check your actual reality and observe what is going right and what is not. This phase helps you to observe the things which are going on perfectly and acknowledge them. It also helps you to be aware of the things which are not going your way and reiterate to yourself that this too shall pass.
One of the favorite pass times of our mind is to come up with worst case scenarios in our life. It visualizes every bad thing happening to us and letting us fall short of attaining the desires which we seek. But, if we look at our past we can recount many such instances where what we feared most didn’t happen and everything went quite normally.
Does this mean not to take risks into account while planning for something? No. But it is important to know that there is a worst case and there is also a best case scenario. Your actions and results however, will be somewhere in between these two. Therefore, there is no reason for your mind to make so much fuss about this new task or skill you are attempting to start.
Control Check – This phase helps you to bifurcate the things which you control and those which you do not. You can now make plans towards making the best use of the areas which you are under control and make some arrangements towards those which are difficult to control or totally out of your control.
After a while you will realize that the only thing that you can control is yourself. Everything else is external and is therefore not under your control. You can however, manage these external things to be of help to you in some way.
You can also make a list of the things which you are under control and feel grateful for during this phase. When you do this your brain will release dopamine, the feel good hormone, which will help you to get started on that project which you were so dreading to begin.
Attention Shift – Lastly, this phase is to shift your attention from the problem to the solution for that situation. You brain is a very genius mechanism and knows the answers to most of the problems. All it requires is your correct input in order to come up with creative and often times out of ordinary solutions to your problem.
If you keep asking yourself the wrong questions your mind will come up with all the answers which are in line with that question. But when you start asking yourself the correct questions you will be amazed at the answers which float up to your conscious mind from your subconscious mind.
In this last phase, you keep shifting your attention to solution rather than the causes of the problem or effects of the problem. You have acknowledged the presence of the problem. It shouldn’t get any more attention than that. Now your total focus should be towards finding a solution to the problem and asking the right questions to your brain.
When you follow this technique and ingrain it into your day to day life, you will find that most of the bad things which are happening to you right now and also the doubts and worries which most of your failures are creating in your life will lose power over you and you will be able to achieve anything you desire in your life.