Self-Doubt Happens: Here’s What I Do with Carol Cox: Podcast Ep. 260

Self-Doubt Happens: Here's What I Do with Carol Cox: Podcast Ep. 260 | Speaking Your Brand

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One of the side effects of going bigger with your message and putting yourself out there is self-doubt.

Even when you’re excited about what you’re working on, self-doubt can creep in.

Self-doubt can masquerade as procrastination, boredom, shiny object syndrome, distractions, filling up your to-do lists and calendar, even deciding to clean those areas of the house that never get cleaned.

Self-doubt can also keep you stuck and not developing further as an entrepreneur, speaker, and thought leader.

In this episode, I’m sharing my own struggles with self-doubt and specific things I do when it comes up that may be helpful to you.


About Us: The Speaking Your Brand podcast is hosted by Carol Cox. At Speaking Your Brand, we help women entrepreneurs and professionals clarify their brand message and story, create their signature talks, and develop their thought leadership platforms. Our mission is to get more women in positions of influence and power because it’s through women’s stories, voices, and visibility that we challenge the status quo and change existing systems. Check out our coaching programs at



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260-SYB-Self-Doubt.mp3: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

260-SYB-Self-Doubt.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Carol Cox:
What do you do when self-doubt creeps in? I’m going to share my current struggles with self-doubt and what has helped me on this episode of the Speaking Your Brand podcast. More and more women are making an impact by starting businesses running for office and speaking up for what matters. With my background as a TV political analyst, entrepreneur and speaker, I interview and coach purpose driven women to shape their brands, grow their companies and become recognized as influencers in their field. This is Speaking Your Brand, your place to learn how to persuasively communicate your message to your audience. Hi there, and welcome to the Speaking Your Brand podcast. I’m your host, Carol Cox. Today we are talking about self-doubt, and the reason we’re talking about it is because I’ve had my own experience with self-doubt rather recently. If you listen to the episode a couple of weeks ago about writing books, you’ll know that I’m working on a book proposal which will eventually turn into a book. And wow, there’s definitely self-doubt creeping in around writing the book proposal. Not so much around my idea. Like I, I’m in love with my idea about the importance of public speaking as a way to advance women’s leadership and gender equality, and I cannot wait to dig in like I can bring in my my love of history and the history work that I did in graduate school. I could bring it, obviously all the work that we do as Speaking Your Brand.

Carol Cox:
So I’m super excited about the idea. But what’s kind of tripping me up is that I am used to writing short form content now like I’m, you know, trained myself as a marketer to write short emails and short LinkedIn post. And I’m finding it really hard to actually expand upon my idea because I’ll write, you know, like a couple of paragraphs, I’m like, OK, I’m done. Like, I got my idea out. But like, No, no, there’s so much more to say here. So the self-doubt is definitely creeping in. And so I wanted to talk about this in today’s episode, because sometimes it may be obvious to you that you’re feeling self-doubt like you may know, OK, I’m really not sure about what I’m doing here. It can be. Can I really do this? It’s something that I’m that I’m up to something and capable of doing. But sometimes self-doubt can masquerade as procrastination avoidance boredom, shiny object syndrome distractions, filling up your to do list and calendar, other things, even deciding to clean things that you probably don’t need to be cleaned or could wait. Just anything that you’re doing to avoid whatever it is that you know that you really should be working on. And it’s usually when we’re trying to do something that’s outside of our comfort zone, something that we’re not used to doing.

Carol Cox:
We’re self-doubt creeps in and which is exactly what’s happening when I’m working on this book proposal. So recently, I was talking with a colleague about my self-doubts, and she said to me, You know, Carol, you’ve accomplished a lot. So that means you faced self-doubt in the past. What is the process look like for you? So if I’ve gotten, you know, through this in the past, which I have think about, well, what helped me at the time and apply that to what’s going on now? So in this episode, I’m going to share with you my own challenges with self-doubt and what I do when it comes up. So hopefully this will be helpful to you to hear what I do, but then also think about what has been helpful to you in the past and how can you apply that when self-doubt comes up again? If you’re new to the podcast, welcome, I’m so glad that you’re here Speaking Your Brand. We help women entrepreneurs and professionals clarify their brand message and story, create their signature talks and develop their thought leadership platforms. And we know that self-doubt can come up when we’re putting ourselves out there in bigger ways, which is why we are such big proponents of both one on one coaching and the group programs and communities that we provide. If you’d like to learn more about what we do and how we can work together, go to Speaking Your Brand.

Carol Cox:
Now let’s get on with the show. What is self-doubt? I looked it up in the dictionary, and here’s what Merriam-Webster has to say. Self-doubt is a lack of faith in oneself, a feeling of uncertainty about one’s abilities and actions. So if you think about that, a lack of faith in oneself, so self-doubt arises when we don’t feel like we’re capable of doing whatever it is that we’ve set out to do so for you, that could be. Maybe you’re working on a speaking engagement or presentation that you’ve been invited to give, and some self-doubt creeps in about the content or the messages that you’re sharing. Like I mentioned in the intro, for me, it’s this book proposal that I am working on right now. And so where does self-doubt come from? Sometimes it can come from previous negative experiences. So if we have done something in the past, that’s the same as what we’re working on right now or similar. And maybe that thing did not go well in the past. We assume, perhaps, that the current iteration of it will also not go well. So then that self-doubt arises. Self-doubt can also come from previous experiences that were positive, so not negative, but previous positive experiences. But you felt that they weren’t really achieved because of you. This is kind of like that imposter syndrome like, OK, that experience went well, like I, I did really well at that and speaking engagement, or I did really well in that thing that I was working on, but it wasn’t really because of my talents or my.

Carol Cox:
Areas, it was just because of luck or something like, well, we’ll think it was something else, not really us, but it was really you. Self-doubt can also come from comparing ourselves to others, so we see what other people are doing and think that whatever we’re doing, our ability or our actions to look just like theirs. And of course, we know in reality that it’s not going to look just like theirs, but that doesn’t necessarily stop us from going there. Self-doubt can also come from wanting things to be a certain way like this is where kind of that perfectionism can arise, where we’re working on something and it just doesn’t seem perfect enough, like if we know if we just keep iterating and iterating and working on it, it’s going to get to that level of perfectionism. I have abandoned perfectionism a long time ago. I just got to the age where I just didn’t have the time and the energy to be a perfectionist anymore. So that’s not where my particular brand of self-doubt comes from. I believe in iterating because you want things to be better, but I actually iterate in public.

Carol Cox:
So email messages that I send out, you know, to the email list, LinkedIn posts this podcast like I literally iterate in public because I want to get that feedback from you listening and from you reading my emails and LinkedIn posts and so on. So self-doubt can also come from just not having done something before at all. So this is something maybe brand new that you’re doing. Maybe you’ve been asked to give a keynote and you’ve never delivered a keynote before, or maybe you’re doing a sales webinar for the first time. You’ve never actually sold something on a webinar. Perhaps you’re doing it a full day or a half day workshop for an organization, and you’ve never done a workshop for that length of time before, whether it’s in-person or virtual. So it could be also from things that we just haven’t done before. And this is where that book proposal self-doubt is coming in. So here’s the process that I use when I’m struggling with self-doubt, and they all happen to start with the letter R, because if you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you know how much that we like. Alliteration is an acronym, so of course, I started making this list. I found a way to to make them all the same letter. So we’re going with ours, and I don’t do all of these things in that moment.

Carol Cox:
Say that day that I realize I’m having self-doubt. This is not like a linear process. I don’t check all these things off the list. I may do some of them, sometimes more than others. So take what I’m using for my own process and see what would work best for you. But really, what I want you to do is think about self-doubt that you’ve had in the past and what was helpful to you to get over it. So the first thing that I do is that I recognize, so are recognize that I’m feeling self-doubt and I sit with it quietly. I’ll think, you know, where is it showing up in my body? Am I feeling it in my chest? Or am I belly? Or am I kind of feeling it in my head? And usually what triggers me to start recognizing that self-doubt is creeping in is those behaviors that I mentioned in the intro procrastination, distractions, shiny object syndrome, filling up my to do list with other things, cleaning parts of the house that don’t need to be clean. So I’m avoiding what it is that I should be working on. So then I recognize that I’m doing that and sit with it quietly, and then I’ll remind myself of my past accomplishments. So it kind of give myself a little bit of a boost, a confidence boost. I have a list in Evernote that I keep of all my accomplishments, like going to graduate school, becoming chairperson of my local Democratic Party, going on TV for the first time in two thousand five.

Carol Cox:
Building this business like I have a list of all of these things, and it sounds kind of hokey, you know, I probably should just remember these things. But when these times and these self-doubt creeps, and it’s really helpful to have a list that’s already been written before so you can just go look at it and remind yourself of these things that you’ve accomplished. I will also write love notes to myself. So kind of present day love notes. I call them love notes where I’ll just write in my journal like the things that I’m really happy about, or, you know, clients that are happy with the work that we’re doing together. So I’ll just kind of it’s like a gratitude kind of a gratitude journal. So these love notes to myself to remind myself of things that I’ve done. So that’s the second is remind the third artist, reflect. I’ll reflect on why I want to do the thing that’s hard right now. Most likely the self-doubt is creeping in because the thing that I’m doing is hard, and that’s exactly the case with this book proposal. So then I’ll ask myself, why is this journey important to me? Why do I want to take this journey with writing a book? Why is the final outcome important to me? So why do I want an actual book at the end of this process? You know the book proposal first and then the actual book? And here is the even more important question than the actual outcome or deliverable at the end is who will I become if I stick with this? So if I kind of stop the procrastination and stop the avoidance and stop the distractions, who will I become if I stick with this process? And I think that is the most telling thing about why we do hard things.

Carol Cox:
The fourth R is release release expectations that what I’m working on is going to go a certain way. The Buddhists would call this non-attachment so non-attachment to the process or non-attachment to the outcome. Yes, there may be things that it will interrupt something that we’re working on, whether that interruption is for a day or a week or a month or a season or a year where something that we wanted to do just we have to release expectations that is going to go a certain way and redirect that energy to somewhere else. And that’s OK. Things I believe will turn out as they will in the right time, yet also knowing that it takes effort to get things done. So but or at least expectations that they have to be a certain way.

Carol Cox:
The next R is reach out, so I’ll reach out to someone I trust, whether it’s my husband, a friend, my own coach, whether it’s my book coach or my business coach, and talk to them about what I’m experiencing. Because really, just having someone as a sounding board, not that they’re going to solve it for you or tell you how great they are. Well, my my husband and my friends, well, but so that’s what we need them for. But coach is really what they’ll do is they’ll help you to see why you want to do this thing in the first place. What’s that positive thing that you want at the end and who you’ll become when you when you stick with it? So reach out to someone that you trust and then the next R is reveal, so reveal your goal or your project to others. Make it public. And the reason I like making things public is because it gives me accountability so that I’m putting it out there, that I’m doing this thing and I want to accomplish this thing. And also, it’s a way to get support so that other people know that you’re working on something and then they can give you that support when you need it. So reveal your goal and project to others. Make it public. And so of all these different things that I do when I’m struggling with self-doubt, recognize that I’m feeling it.

Carol Cox:
Remind myself of past accomplishments. Reflect on why I want to do the thing that’s hard right now. Release expectations that is going to go a certain way. Reach out to someone I trust. Reveal my goal and project to others. Make it public. So all those things are incredibly important. And here is the most important thing. When I really think about the past and where I have gotten through self-doubt is taking action. And especially having to do something by a certain date because there are external deadlines I can’t control. This is why when I launched this podcast back in Twenty Seventeen, I tied the release date to a conference I was speaking at. I wanted this, the podcast to be live by them. That was an external deadline. I couldn’t. I couldn’t shift that date. I couldn’t control it. So I had to get past the self-doubt that I experienced launching this podcast so that it would be live. That’s why I hired a book coach so that I would have that external deadline and accountability to keep me on track. That’s why so many of our clients work with us and VIP days or our Thought Leader Academy because they want that accountability and support and those external deadlines and milestones to reach. So taking action is really the best way that that has worked for me to get past self-doubt.

Carol Cox:
I would love to know what do you do when you face self-doubt, what processes or what things have worked well for you? You can find me on LinkedIn. Just look for Carol Cox on LinkedIn. The links, also in the show, notes as a social media platform that I hang out on the most you can. Also email me. Carol Cox Speaking Your Brand. I will say that having self-doubt is normal. It can mean that you’re trying new things, trying things that are beyond what you’re naturally good at. You’re doing something that’s a bigger project or a bigger goal. And so a lot of times self-doubt is a normal side effect of that. And I know that the women that we work with, whether it’s one on one or a Thought Leader Academy experience this too. And this is why I really love the group experience of the Thought Leader Academy, in addition to the one on one coaching calls, is because it normalizes these feelings that we all have. I remember a Thought Leader Academy group call that we had last year. One of the women brought up that she was experiencing self-doubt and pitching herself for speaking engagements and for podcast interviews, and I appreciate that she was so vulnerable and sharing that with the group because we were able to help her with some strategies for her to do the podcast pitching and do put out the speaking of proposals and things like that.

Carol Cox:
And so not only did it help her to put this out there in the group, but I know that it helped other women who were hearing her and what she was struggling with. If you would like to join our Thought Leader Academy to work on your thought leadership. You’re saying that your talks and your visibility and a revenue strategy, I invite you to submit your application today. You can get all of the details by going to Speaking Your Brand academy. Again, that’s Speaking Your Brand academy. On our next podcast episode, we’re going to be talking about closing the gender speaking gap. So you may have heard of the gender pay gap, which is that women get paid less than men for the same job. Well, there’s also a gender speaking gap, and that’s what my guest, Kristen Oakley and I talk about. And this is an important topic because when we as women speakers experience self-doubt, we tend not to put ourselves out there. We tend not to submit speaking proposals and so on. But we need more women speakers. We need more women speakers on main stages and we need more women speakers getting paid to speak. So make sure to click Follow on your podcast app so you don’t miss next week’s episode and the future ones until next time. Thanks for listening!

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