Are you doubting yourself for pursuing your New Year aspiration?

Happy New Year!  It is hopeful for all of us to have a new start in 2023.  Some of us may already made New Year’s resolutions and commenced to act according to our plans.  However, some people may be hestitated to start pursuing their aspirations due to lack of self confidence or constant self doubts.  It is quite common for many of my clients to contemplate their goals for a prolonged period and cannot start to execute their plans.  For some other clients, they may spend a lot of time to refine their goals or to make thorough preparations.  However, they can never start to pursue actions in moving towards their goals.  Other people around them may have an impression that they waste a lot of time planning or preparing, but they never make the real move.

A client of mine had an aspiration of finding a job and leaving her father’s company.  She felt her job in her father’s company as meaningless and stagnant.  Due to some political issues in the father’s company, her suggestions on marketing strategies were never accepted by some senior management leaders.  She was frequently given low level of tasks during working hours despite her ample knowledge in management and marketing from her postgraduate studies.  As a result, she had contemplated for a long time to leave her father’s company and find a new job.  She knew that she needed to be more independent in her career development.  However, she kept doubting her decision and asked a lot of senior people, such as her uncles and aunts in her extended family, for opinions.  The opinion she always obtained was that it was better to stay in her father’s company because they thought that she might not be able to survive in the outside business world.  She also had a lot of thoughts doubting her capabities to take up another job.  For example, she thought, “I never have any accomplishment and achievement, no one will hire me.”  Because of these self doubts, she kept holding back to execute job search.

It is common for us not to be aware of our thoughts as only thoughts.  We tend to believe in our thoughts as if they are all facts.  When our thoughts are related to our self definition, we cannot control ourselves from truly believing these thoughts about ourselves define who we are.   In this case, we may be hestitated to pursue our aspirations and doubting our capabilities in many aspects.  The lady that I described above held back her plan to find a job and leave her father’s company for one year and felt very helpless about her stagnation.  She truly believed that she was inadequate and cannot survive in the outside business world.  How could she be more detached from her thoughts and braving herself to explore her environment and trying to pursue her plans?

According to Steven C. Hayes, founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, it is important for us to cultivate a transcendent sense of self.  This means that we view our “self” as an observing self and a noticing self, in which we notice our own thoughts and feelings.  Our “self” can be seen as the sky and our thoughts and feelings being the cloud keep moving across the sky.  This “self” remains constant no matter what had happened in the external environment.  For instance, our sense of self remain constant even when we made mistakes and had a thought, “we are not good enough”.  We observe that we had the thought of not being good enough.  Indeed, we are able to notice that this is only a thought and does not define us. 

For many people, having self doubts when we make New Year’s resolutions is common.  When we are being unable to take an observer stand to notice that our thoughts and self doubts are only thoughts, our feelings of being inadequate are only feelings, we tend to hold back our execution of our plans.  In 2023, let us learn to cultivate a transcendent sense of self and not to believe our thoughts and feelings as facts.  It takes courage for us to explore our environment and take the first step to pursue our aspirations.

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