Success – what that word means to you may mean something completely different to the person sitting next to you. It’s self-defined and therefore impossible to measure. Because of this, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests many of us, (even widely celebrated entrepreneurs) are pretty lousy at judging our success.
As human beings, we are programmed to focus on the negative. This is a survival mechanism. Which came in very handy when we were living in the wilderness with threats to our lives around every corner. But today, those same survival mechanisms can result in us finding ourselves in the strange position of being successful but questioning and doubting said success on a regular basis. Hello Self Doubt.
You might attribute “successful people” as being extremely confident all of the time and therefore, when you have days where you fall short of this, negativity and self doubt can begin to creep in. But did you know, experts reveal that mental discomfort on some level is actually a signal of success.
So if you’re feeling a lot of self doubt while reading this, you should congratulate yourself on the progress you’ve made and as you’ll find out as you read on, for being a well-rounded, intelligent human being as well.
In short, don’t beat yourself up for feeling this emotion.
Ignorance is Bliss but Knowledge is Power
We’ve all heard the saying “ignorance is bliss” some of you may have even heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect. This psychological principle suggests that the most incoptent people are also often the most overconfident. Simply because they don’t know enough to grasp just how much they don’t know and therefore how incompetent they truly are.
It’s like an astrologer thinking they know everything there is to know about the sun but failing to know it is part of a vast solar system which is much more difficult to fathom. I.e. The more you know, the less you understand.
So if ignorance can breed unearned overconfidence then advanced knowledge can lead to a lot of self-doubt.
“When I open myself up to the vastness of my own ignorance, I can’t help but feel a sudden suffocating feeling.” – Brian Resnick, Vox News (source)
Only A Fool Confidently “Knows it All”
Take a minute to remember back to being a grumpy, spotty teen, I know… Shudder at the thought! But remember how you thought you knew everything about everything? Your opinion was the only one that mattered? You were right and everyone else was wrong?
Did you actually know everything? Were you actually right? Probably not, unless any of you are child prodigies.
My point is, it’s easy to look back and laugh at our teenage arrogance. It was silly back then but it would be a lot sillier to still think in this manner as an adult.
Maturity and self awareness is being able to doubt yourself and hear alternative viewpoints and change your opinion when fresh evidence may be presented. This is a sign of intelligence.
This is known as intellectual humility. It allows us to learn faster, learn from mistakes, spot fake news, become more tolerant of differences and ultimately connect more openly with others.
A wise man once said, “the fools think they know it all, the bold pretend they do, and the wise know they know nothing.”
When we start to question our beliefs and become aware of everything we don’t know, yes it can be a very uncomfortable feeling but it is also a sign of an intellectual mind.
So in summary, don’t be fooled into thinking that being truly successful means you won’t ever have self-doubt. It’s not the case. A confused mind is typically an indication of the kind of inquisitiveness and searching that indicates you’re already doing well in life.
In the words of Kris Jenner.. You’re Doing Amazing Sweetie!