What irony. If you’re in a meeting, anxious that others are smarter, more attractive, or more effective than you, chances are someone else is thinking the same about you.
Self doubt is called by some the “universal condition.” The largest coach training organization in the world, CTI, says they have seen hundreds of otherwise intelligent business people sabotaged by self defeating fears. 95% admitted these fears were causing significant harm to their careers.
Why are we so hard on ourselves? Some tie it back to conditioning as early humans. An illustrative story: A man wanders through the jungle in 20,000 BC and thinks he sees a panther in the corner of his eye. In the split second he must decide, his odds are better if he assumes there is a panther, and that it is stronger, faster, and likely to kill him. So he runs. If it turned out he ran away from a harmless pig, he’d be embarrassed, but at least he’d be alive to tell the story. A laid-back guy who’s not anxious may assume it was just a pig. But that guy might not live to teach his kids a laid-back approach because he has a better chance of being eaten.
We’ve swapped grass skirts for business suits, but our brains still have residue from ages past. We’re trained to assume the worst and run rather than fight and risk dying. This gets manifested in fear and self defeating thoughts brought on by the mere suggestion of danger.
How do you stop it? Un-train your brain. Your brain works like a muscle. It gets used to repetitive action. You have to break the cycle and force yourself to swap out negative thoughts with positive replacements. Like exercise, if you keep doing this, it will get easier.
Besides, just about everyone else has the same issue.