The good news is that self-doubt, odd as it may sound, is actually a secret weapon for blooming. When properly managed, it can help combat complacency and improve our preparation and performance. It drives us to question results, experiment with new strategies, and be open to alternate ways to solve problems — tactics that correlate with late bloomer strengths such as curiosity and resilience. But self-doubt isn’t only a performance enhancer; it’s also a recipe for being a wiser leader, teacher, parent and friend, because coming to terms with it makes us more compassionate and gives us greater insight into ourselves and others. The problem is that many people deal with self-doubt by sabotaging our chances of success.
To bloom, we must learn not to fear self-doubt but to embrace it as a naturally occurring opportunity for growth and improvement. The key to harnessing self-doubt starts at the very core of our individual beliefs about ourselves, with what psychologists call “self-efficacy.” And understanding self-efficacy begins with Albert Bandura.
We can improve self-efficacy through something we already do: Talk. We all talk ourselves through situations, good and bad. It’s our inner cheerleader — or our inner critic. Psychologists and researchers call this voice “self-talk.” Self-talk shapes our relationships with ourselves, allowing us to try to see things more objectively. Objectivity can be enormously beneficial for late bloomers, helping us overcome the negative cultural messages we receive from family, friends and society.
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