Got self-doubt? Time to phone a friend…

A few weeks back I wrote about The Doubt. I think we are all grabbed by an attack of self-doubt from time to time. Often, fear is at the root of it – fear of the unknown, fear of failing, fear of looking a fool.

There were some great comments posted on that article and one that stood out for me was Inge Woudstra‘s. Inge asked how I get through The Doubt.

To be honest I don’t actually do anything, other than grit my teeth and keep going! A lot like in We’re Going On a Bear Hunt

Uh – uh! A snowstorm! A swirling, whirling snowstorm.

We can’t go over it

We can’t go under it

Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!

(By Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury)

That made me think – maybe it’s time I tried a new approach?

One thing I do know is that The Doubt is made worse by isolation. If you work in an office it’s easy to say  “this makes no sense to me, am I being really dense here?”. Within seconds you’ll hear the reply “don’t worry, it confused me too, here’s what it means…’ and you forget all about it. But if you’re working at home alone, that little bit of doubt can grow and grow, chipping away at your confidence.

So last week I did something radical and picked up the phone. Seriously, it was that obvious but I’d forgotten how much of a difference it makes. I spoke to the fabulous and energetic Nicki Cawood and Emma Burford. (Actually, I Skyped Emma because I’ve got a new webcam and I was determined to use it). We didn’t talk about anything in particular, just threw some ideas around, compared notes and helped each other out a bit. But it made such a difference

So my top tip is to step away from the keyboard and talk to someone. There are tons of mums working at home who haven’t spoken about anything more stimulating than Peppa Pig and Mr Tumble all day and would leap at the chance of a chat about business.

I bet you’re an independent kind of person who doesn’t like to ask for help? Well people do like to help others and anyway, the solution to a problem that’s been keeping you awake at night could be blindingly obvious to someone else. Just talking things through can get your mind working in ways it can’t when you’re sitting in silence. (Or listening to screaming toddlers?) There’s nothing like extended periods in front of a computer to get you going around in mental circles and a conversation can often break through it.

Go on, pick up the phone!

By the way, do check out Inge’s website It’s a new online resource that aims to support working mums with ambition – definitely one to watch. And you can read Inge’s experience of Doubt on her blog, too.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Eric Kilby

7 Replies to “Got self-doubt? Time to phone a friend…”

  1. A fantastic post and very true. The one thing that you don’t get when you are self-employed/freelance is an MSD’s/appraisal. There is no-one to pat you on the back, rate your performance, help you identify areas of improvement or help you set targets and goals. When you work for yourself, it’s down to you.
    Talking to you Helen gave me fresh focus, motivated me and reminded me that whilst I work alone, I needn’t “be” alone – so thank you.
    If you have “the doubt” do as Helen suggests, I can assure you it helps, both with productivity but also with your state of mind!
    Who’d have thought, in this age of gadgets and technological advances that one of the most effective business tools would be a telephone natter!

  2. So true Helen and cannot agree more than with Nikki’s comments above…

    Being a Manager and a vital team member pre kids for many years, I now have to continually remind myself and pat myself on the back now as no one else will… and you are right it can be isolating working from home however focused and determined you are.

    But now with skpye you can feel like you are almost sitting next to each other! Thanks Helen for reminding us all to keep in touch and call on friends and colleagues and not to sit it out alone, 2 heads are always better than one xx

  3. I couldnt agree more with this post. I regularly call someone I actually met on Twitter. We have only met once at a conference but she is my sounding board and just someone to make it seem less lonely. As Emma says, its lovely to have someone pat you on the back, understand the trials and tribulations and give advice. Its made a big difference to me and i actually look forward to it

    Great post

    1. Thanks for the comments ladies, it’s nice to know I’m not alone! Kerri – is such a great idea for a business and I hadn’t heard of it until I read your post.

    1. Aha! Kerri, I knew that I’d heard your name somewhere before but I couldn’t think where 🙂 Thank you very much for subscribing, it’s nice to be appreciated (especially when it’s late at night!) Good luck with Buy Student Art, it looks great!

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