296: The Antidote to Self-Doubt


It is bound to happen.

You are going to have a day, probably many, along the path to moving your life to higher ground where self-doubt creeps in and you convince yourself that you aren’t making progress.

And, in that moment…

I hope you will extend yourself the grace of pausing and asking yourself the questions I suggest in this podcast:)

The Antidote to Self-Doubt

Transcripts are auto-generated.

Courtney Townley 0:00
Welcome to the Grace and Grit Podcast made for women who want their healthiest years to be ahead of them, not behind them. Join your host, Courtney Townley, right now. As she breaks down the fairy tale health story, you have been chasing all of your life, indispensable action steps and lasting change.

Courtney Townley 0:28
It is bound to happen, my friend, you are going to have a day, probably many days along the path to move in your life to higher ground, where self doubt creeps in, and tries to convince you that you aren’t making any progress. And in that moment, I hope you will extend yourself the grace of pausing and asking yourself some really good questions.

Courtney Townley 0:58
So, that’s what this podcast is in dedication to today is helping you to be armed with some really good questions to ask. The next time self doubt shows up. And likely, self doubt is just around the corner. She might show up later today. She’ll probably most definitely show up at some point this week.

Courtney Townley 1:21
Here’s the first question that’s really important to ask, how exactly are you measuring progress?

Courtney Townley 1:30
I encourage you to ask that question. Because progress is best measured through a very wide lens. What the heck does that mean? It means if you are only using one data point, as a measuring stick for progress, you will likely find yourself riddled with self doubt, often and much. So, success progress can be measured in 1000s of ways regardless of your goal. Financial success can be measured in 1000s of ways. Health success can be measured in 1000s of ways. Relationships, success can be measured in 1000s of ways.

Courtney Townley 2:18
And yet, we tend to only focus on one thing, the amount of money, the amount of weight, whatever the thing is, you’ve chosen to focus on for the improvement of the relationship. And the danger of only using one metric to measure progress, as you well know, progress is never linear. Very, very rarely is progress linear. So if you’re only using one data point to measure success, of course, you’re going to get deflated. Because you aren’t always going to see progress in that one area. But if you’re using lots of ways to measure progress, you’re looking for evidence in lots of spaces. For progress, you are so much more likely to stay the course. Because I have no doubt if you’re using a lot of ways to measure progress, you will see it you will find it. It is rarely if ever true.

Courtney Townley 3:34
When I’m working with clients, that they aren’t making progress in some way. What is true is that if a woman is feeling like she’s not making progress, she is hyper focusing on one measurement. And it prevents her from seeking all the evidence available to her that she is indeed making progress. So let’s take the example of the scale. Because weight loss seems to be a very large focus for an awful lot of women. And I’m not going to get into my whole theory about weight loss and all the nuances of that because I feel like I’ve talked about that so many times on this Podcast.

Courtney Townley 4:18
But because I know this is a focus for a lot of women. I also know that they tend to hyper focus on one metric, like their weight. And a lot of women end up being unnecessarily hard on themselves and quitting on themselves when they don’t see that number moving in the way that they think it should. Again, it’s not linear. So where my coaching comes in is of course, I remind my clients that progress looks like a lot of other things.

Courtney Townley 4:56
Progress looks like learning something you didn’t know about yourself before. Progress looks like having heightened awareness of how you’re showing up. And what you’re actually doing in dedication to your process. Progress looks like thinking differently about yourself and your process. It looks like setting boundaries, starting to live more intentionally, with the results you want to create for your life. Progress looks like taking more time to organize yourself making different choices, taking responsibility for the stress of your life. Progress looks like inviting in some emotions that you have previously been in the habit of shutting out.

Courtney Townley 5:59
If you want to stay the course, it is really important to acknowledge progress. In all the ways that progress is actually happening. It’s interesting, I had a client reach out to me recently whose focus right now is weight loss. And she was super frustrated, super deflated. And this is exactly what was playing out. She was using one measurement to mark her progress, which of course, was the scale.

Courtney Townley 6:32
And what’s really interesting is she was feeling better, she was feeling more confident. She was feeling really proud of how she had been showing up for herself. And then to validate how she was feeling, what did she do she got on the scale. And when the scale told her that nothing had changed. What did she make that mean? She made it mean that she wasn’t making progress, which is insanity. Because there’s so many things that she is doing for herself, to help improve her total stress load, to help regulate her nervous system, all of which will eventually help her to lose weight. But of course, it had only been a few weeks. And she was using that one metric of weight loss to convince herself that she was making no progress, which is a total lie. She was lying to herself, that she wasn’t making progress.

Courtney Townley 7:38
And of course, when we tell ourselves that we’re not making any kind of progress, what do we do? We quit on ourselves? Another great question that I think is really important to ask when we are trying to convince ourselves that we aren’t making any progress is what is the work that we have done today in dedication to whatever progress we’re trying to make. And here’s why I think that’s such an important question. We often spend a lot of time spinning out about not making progress to the point of not taking action to actually create progress. I mean, it’s crazy. So we spend tons of time letting self doubt, take the microphone and convince us that we’re failures that we’re not progressing, then we engage in behaviors that are opposite of what are going to help us to create that progression. And we’re not really taking any kind of action today to help us create more progress. We also tend to get really hyper focused on outcomes, rather than daily behaviors.

Courtney Townley 9:00
So rather than hyper focusing on where you’re trying to get to, which quite honestly feels for a lot of people very far away, it’s very deflating, if that’s where you put all your energy. But we tend to do that to the point of not really hyper focusing on what small steps I’m actually taking today in dedication to that longer term outcome. So what are you doing today to create progress towards your goals? Another great question is how is judgment helping here?

Courtney Townley 9:36
Because ladies, when you convince yourself that you’re not making progress, you’re not just thinking the thought. I’m not making progress. You’re adding a lot of cruelty to that thought. You’re making it mean something that really hurts and creates a lot of unnecessary suffering. In other words, So when we convince ourselves that we’re not making progress, again, usually because we’re only measuring one metric, we give the microphone to the mean girl. We start having all this internal dialogue that is hateful, and disrespectful and judgmental.

Courtney Townley 10:22
And none of that is going to help you create progress because it makes you feel like crap. And when you feel like crap, you tend to make crappy choices. I know that’s probably not the most elegant way I could say that. But I think it gets the point across. So what do we do? In order to not give the microphone to the mean, girl? Well, we give the microphone to curiosity. We start getting wildly curious about number one, where else might I be making progress? What am I doing well? But also, where can I do better? What might I need to tweak in order to see the kind of progress that I want to make.

Courtney Townley 11:18
But if you are stuck in a space of judgment, you will never give yourself the opportunity to see the answers to those questions. Because you’re not curious, you cannot be curious and judgmental at the same time. And curiosity opens up so much for us, it opens up creative problem solving. It opens up the opportunity to see evidence that is right in front of us that we didn’t really see before.

Courtney Townley 11:53
In Episode 294, which was just a couple episodes ago, I talked a lot about reframing goal setting. And one of the things that I mentioned in that podcast was that I believe the bigger gift of goal setting than achieving an outcome is that on the way to goal setting, a curriculum unfolds for us. Because progress is not linear, we have a tremendous amount of opportunity to learn about ourselves, and to learn about our strategy. And to learn about the thing that we are trying to improve.

Courtney Townley 12:36
When the curriculum starts to unfold, curiosity looks an awful lot like just saying to yourself, isn’t that interesting? Isn’t that interesting that I’ve been doing this work over here? And yet, I don’t feel like I’m progressing in this way. Why might that be? Another phrase I love to open up curiosity is nothing has gone wrong here. That that kind of extinguishes judgment very quickly. So let’s just say, I’ve been working on improving my body composition, I’m using the scale as a marker of progress. I feel really good about how I’ve been showing up. And I decide to get on the scale one day. And lo and behold, nothing has changed. I have an opportunity in that moment. To say a lot of things to myself. And a couple of things that I think are very useful. Are again, number one, isn’t that interesting? Isn’t that interesting that I’m feeling so much better, that I’m actually feeling more confident that I’m feeling stronger, but I’m actually getting better sleep. And my weight hasn’t moved.

Courtney Townley 14:07
Another beautiful thing to say in that moment, like I reminded you of earlier is again, nothing has gone wrong here. Nothing has gone wrong here. Because nothing has gone wrong here affords me the opportunity to look for the gold. In the reality of my situation. I could choose to make this mean that something has gone wrong here. Or I could just remind myself that nothing has gone wrong here. Based on the work that I’ve been doing, my body is exactly where it needs to be.

Courtney Townley 14:51
Curiosity also allows us to start looking at the emotions that we’re feeling and the strategies that we’re used saying and learn more about them. So here’s what I really want you to hear in this judgment, the mean girl, her objective is to shut you down. And you can amplify her by giving her the microphone and letting her dictate your process, which will be a very short lived process. That is an option, lots of people choose to do that. Or you could choose to acknowledge all the ways in which you are currently making progress, while simultaneously staying wildly curious and honest with yourself about where you might need to dig deeper.

Courtney Townley 15:59
Because here’s the truth. We often like to live on ends of a spectrum, you know, the all or nothing mentality, which is never useful. Living on ends of the spectrum is never very healthy. And a spectrum in this case looks like, oh, I can celebrate my success. Or I can hyper focus on all the things I’m not doing good enough. And I just want to remind you, it’s progress is not an either or equation. Progress is a both and equation. I can celebrate my success, I can acknowledge all the ways in which I’m currently winning, and doing well and proud of how I’m showing up. And I can get really curious about where I need to fine tune and what I might need to try on next. And where I might need to dial in the discipline. Both of those things can happen simultaneously, ladies, but what a lot of you are doing is number one, you’re not even staying wildly curious. You’re just judging that one metric. You’re not celebrating all the other spaces and places where you are succeeding. And it’s leaving you deflated. And just simply not wanting to show up. So it’s not useful to you.

Courtney Townley 17:28
That’s why I love the question. How is judgment helping here? It’s never you’re never going to find that it’s helping. Another question I love when you are feeling like you aren’t making progress. And you are convincing yourself that you can’t succeed with something is to ask yourself, what would you say to someone in the exact same situation? And not just any someone, but somebody that you actually really care about and respect? Maybe it’s your kid, maybe it’s a loved one? Maybe it’s a partner, a dear friend. But imagine somebody you really love coming to you? And saying they’d been really working hard on something. And they’re not making progress. What would you say?

Courtney Townley 18:25
And here’s why this is an important question. I know that you would have a lot to say. And what’s fascinating, is, it’s way better than what you would tell yourself, you would be encouraging. You would ask them some great questions. What have you tried? What else could you try? You would give them words of encouragement, you would invite them to get really curious. You would take the time to remind them why they started this in the first place. But how many of you are actually doing that for yourself? You’re not. You’re making yourself feel terrible. But if someone you loved came to you in the same situation, you would do everything in your power to make them feel loved and worthy of continuing their pursuit. Why are you doing that for yourself?

Courtney Townley 19:27
Alright, one more question I really want you to consider the next time you are convincing yourself that you’re not making progress is Why the rush because ladies, you know, as well as I do that a big part of a big reason that we don’t feel like we’re progressing is because we’re not we are progressing, but we’re not progressing in the timeframe that we think we should be. We have a deadline. We have a expectation of the amount of time it should take for us to accomplish something. And when we need more time than that expectation, what do we do? Again, we bring out the mean girl, we beat ourselves up, we convince ourselves there’s something wrong with us. But here’s what’s true.

Courtney Townley 20:22
Anytime you’re rushing, anytime you are hustling, you are creating more stress in your system, more stress in your system leads to more nervous system dysregulation. more nervous system dysregulation means you have more cortisol in your system. And that ultimately means more hormonal dysfunction. So when it comes to health, and stability and resilience within our system, we’re not doing ourselves any favors when we’re always in a hurry. And man, are people always in a hurry, when they are trying to reach a goal when they are trying to move their life to higher ground. And I have long believed, and I have shared this many times on this show that the more of a hurry you are in to accomplish something, the less likely you are to sustain whatever result you create. I’m going to say that again, because it’s really important that you hear this, the more of a hurry you are in to accomplish something, the less likely you are to sustain that accomplishment.

Courtney Townley 21:31
And why? Why is that true? Because behavior change is a very complex sort of neurological equation, we are doing work on a very deep level in our brain, when it comes to behavior change, we’re creating new neural connections, we’re creating new neural pathways, and to strengthen those neural pathways, which means we ultimately sustained something in the long term, we have to invest in a tremendous amount of practice. And when you give yourself the short timelines to accomplish something, you may feel like you’ve worked really hard, but you haven’t practiced very much, because you haven’t given yourself much time to practice. And truth be told, the work that

Courtney Townley 22:26
I’m always encouraging women to do is to live their life in a way that helps them to feel like they’re living in integrity with themselves. And that is not a short term process. That is not something we dedicate ourselves to for a few weeks or a few months, and then we’re good for life doesn’t work that way. This is lifelong work. And so there is no hurry. There is no rush. There is no deadline unless you decide there needs to be one. And I’m not saying deadlines don’t have a place. But when you are feeling frustrated, and you are riddled with self doubt, I want you to ask how your deadline is helping. Is it helping right now? Or is it hindering all this to say, actually, before I go there, let me repeat those questions, just so you’re really clear on the questions I covered here today.

Courtney Townley 23:30
Okay. So the next time you’re trying to convince yourself that you’re not making progress, I want you to reconsider how you’re measuring progress. Because I bet you are not measuring in very many ways. So you need to widen your lens. The second question, is it really true that you have not made any progress? Third question, What have you done today in dedication to making progress? Or are you just spinning out about not making progress? Because often I find it’s the latter. People are just spinning out, but they’re not really taking action.

Courtney Townley 24:13
Question four, how is judgment helping you here? It never is. It’s not helping it’s hindering what would you say to someone in the exact same situation? And that final question, Why the rush? Why are you in such a hurry? How is the deadline actually helping? Why are you resisting moving it out? Why aren’t you considering not having a deadline? All good questions to ask. But all this to say you owe it to yourself to keep going. There will be obstacles, your process will not be linear. You are going to have some really hard days. The real work is to stay so devoted to yourself that you keep showing up. Despite those things, because here’s what’s also true in your devotion to yourself to your most authentic and fully expressed life, there will be winds more profound than what you initially set out to accomplish.

Courtney Townley 25:33
So you might reach a weight loss goal. But by pursuing a weight loss goal in a healthy way, you may actually learn how to strengthen the relationship that you have with yourself. Wouldn’t that be awesome. And quite frankly, I think that’s a lot more impressive and profound than a number on the scale. In devotion to continuing to show up for yourself, the detours, the setbacks, and even the getting lost, will unveil things that you need to learn that you probably would not have learned any other way. This is why I’m always saying the curriculum unfolds on the way to any goal, we end up having to take detours and do things that we weren’t expecting. And it’s in those unexpected things, where we really start to develop ourselves. And in devotion to continuing to show up for yourself, you’re going to have to lean into hard moments. And those hard moments strengthen you and make you a more resilient and confident human over the long term.

Courtney Townley 26:58
So keep going. Take the microphone back from the mean girl, take responsibility for how you are thinking about progress. And widen that lens. Because you’re doing awesome. You just need to acknowledge that you are and simultaneously stay honest about where you could do a little bit better. But there’s a very compassionate way to do that you that doesn’t have to come from a space of cruelty and judgment. It can come from a space of love, and respect. And if you’re a longtime listener, you’ve heard me say on so many occasions, that I’m a big believer that self discipline is born out of self respect. It’s not a punishment. It’s not coming from a hateful place. It’s coming from a loving place. I hope this helps. And I hope I’ll see you again next week. Take care.

Courtney Townley 28:11
Thank you for listening to the Grace and Grit Podcast. It is time to mend the fabric of the female health story. And it starts with you taking radical responsibility for your own self care. You are worth the effort and with a little grace and grit anything is possible.


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