Podcast: Tricking Self Doubt

Ryan starts to doubt his ability to dunk. How does one overcome self doubt? We’re working on a few ideas. Plus, Ryan talks about his jump training schedule.

Episode 15: Tricking Self Doubt
Listen, Subscribe, and Rate: Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify

I shared a story from Rich Roll’s book, Finding Ultra. I recommend checking out the book. It’s an inspiring story, with just enough tales of self-destruction to keep the non-self-help type interested.

Rich has his own podcast, too.

I talked about my training plan. Thought I’d give a bonus to web visitors. So here is my current training plan:

The Bad Ass Dad Dunk Training Plan


  • Barbell Bench Press (3×6 reps)
  • Barbell Incline Bench Press (3×6 reps)
  • Dumbbell Bench Press (3×6)
  • Cable Crunch (3/6)


  • Jump Rope (2 mins)
  • Stretch
  • Jump Rope (4 mins)
  • Slow Motion Body-weight Squat (3×10)
  • Single-leg Four Corners Hops (3×15)
  • Single-leg Lateral Jumps (3×18)
  • Jump Lunges (3×18)
  • Tuck Jumps (3×8)
  • Straight-leg Calf Jump (3×40)
  • Barbell Deadlift (3×6)
  • One-arm Dumbbell Row (3×6)
  • Lat Pulldown (3×6)


Cross-train with some yoga, a fun activity, or rest.


  • Jump Rope (2 mins)
  • Stretch
  • Jump Rope (4 mins)
  • Slow Motion Body-weight Squat (3×10)
  • Single-leg Four Corners Hops (3×15)
  • Single-leg Lateral Jumps (3×18)
  • Jump Lunges (3×18)
  • Tuck Jumps (3×8)
  • Straight-leg Calf Jump (3×40)
  • Close-grip Barbell Bench Press (3×6)
  • Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise (3×10)
  • Bent-over Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise (3×10)


Cross-train with some yoga, a run, a fun activity, or rest.


  • Jump Rope (2 mins)
  • Stretch
  • Jump Rope (4 mins)
  • Single-leg Four Corners Hops (3×15)
  • Single-leg Lateral Jumps (3×18)
  • Jump Lunges (3×18)
  • Barbell Squat (3×6)
  • Leg Press (3×6)
  • Lying Leg Curls (3×6)


Hiking with family

Currently, I sprinkle in some jumping technique drills–mostly done at home on the days I do jump training. I don’t yet have a formalized schedule for that.

Episode Transcript:

  1. This is the Bad Ass Dad Pod
    1. My name is Ryan Dunn
    2. I’m 43, and I’m not happy about it.
    3. But I’m working on it! I’m working on finding contentment in my middle age.
    4. This podcast follows my three quests to achieve some degree of badassery 
    5. And, I think, will inspire you to badassery, too, no matter what age you are.
    6. As for me… I hope to become a badass physically by dunking a basketball for the first. I hope to become a badass financially by getting out of debt. And I hope to become a badass dad and husband by giving my special peeps their proper attention.
  2. In this episode: We’re going to trick out our self-doubt
    1. Because I’m full of it at the moment. [MUSIC OUT]
  3. You know, last weekend, I was in the Berkshires
    1. One of the cool things about my job is that I get sent places I would never really have any reason to visit… You know, what else is going to bring a Tennessee guy to Western MA
    2. But I got to do a presentation there.
    3. After my presentation, I had some free time.
    4. I like to go explore places with weird backstories
      1. So, for example, I visited the Thom Reed UFO monument
      2. Where Thom Reed and family were temporarily taken by extraterrestrials.
    5. From there, I went on to Bash Bish Falls, 
      1. Where, allegedly, a young indigenous woman was murdered by an angry mob
      2. So, it has a bit of spooky lore around it
    6. Now, this was after I’d been presenting all day, so it was getting late. The sun was beginning to set.
      1. But I’d driven all the way to these falls, and the trail down to them was only like ¾ of a mile… not long, right.
      2. Except that it’s all straight down…
      3. So it took a while to navigate.
      4. Now there I was wandering into the woods… it’s getting dark…
      5. I’m on this treacherous trail…. and I”m by myself… and nobody knows where I am
        1. I travelled up there by myself.
        2. I hadn’t told my family what I was doing.
        3. At one point, I kind of turned my ankle 
        4. And it occurred to me that this trek may not be the best idea…
        5. Because there I am, in the woods, in the lowering light, alone…
        6. And, at the very moment that thought passes my mind, something comes tumbling down the hill from above me…
        7. It lands on the trail right in front of me and settles there.
        8. And when I step up to see what it is, I find it’s a big ass bone… like the top of leg bone of something… it’s rounded at the end like it should fit into a hip socket
        9. And, to me, it looks big enough to be human. 
        10. So, I look up the hill where this thing came from and there’s nothing there.
        11. I announced to the nothingness “I’m out” and started to leave, but then thought better of it.
        12. This might be something ominous. But it’s also, likely, coincidence, right?
        13. So I turned around and kept going.
        14. OBVIOUSLY, it all turned out OK.
        15. I made it to the falls, they’re awesome.
        16. I tried to casually follow out a couple other hikers… I may have freaked them out by my weird trying to stay close but not trying to creep close attitude.
        17. And I made it out.
        18. OH, on the way back up I looked for that bone… and I’m pretty sure it was no longer there!
        19. Freaky.
    7. Share that story, one, because it’s bizarre
    8. Two, because I’ve wandered into the forest of the dunk and I’m wondering if the payoff at the end will actually be worth the risk involved with getting there.
    9. Should I stop and turn back so I can do something else, or keep on the trail because I’ve committed to come this far already.
  4. I’ve been reading about other Bad Ass, Middle-aged dads.
    1. Rich Roll is one of them
    2. After Rich found himself huffing and puffing from a simple trek up the stairs in his house, he decided he was due for a change.
    3. Eventually, Rich stumbled into ultra-endurance competitions
      1. There’s are like the Iron Man events of Iron Man
      2. Many of them are Iron Man and them some…
      3. 200-mile bike rides PLUS 50 mile runs and so on…
    4. Rich records his impressive flip from couch potato to ultra guy in his book Finding Ultra
    5. He starts the book relating a story from one of his competitions
      1. I was an ultra-triathlon event in Hawaii
      2. It was day one—I say that because these are multi-day events….
      3. It was day one, and Rich was in the lead.
      4. During one of the bike legs of the race, Rich hit a rock and went over his handlebars… got scraped up bad and broke a pedal on his bike.
      5. So he had to limp several miles tugging along his busted bike in order to meet his support and get some help.
      6. By the time he got to the support camp, he decided his race was done…
        1. His bike was too broke,
        2. And he was feeling too broke.
        3. He had given it a good shot.
        4. But really, all he wanted at that moment, was to sink into his hotel bed.
    6. Do you ever feel like that?
    7. In the moment, you’re thinking: I showed up!
    8. I was willing to give a try, that’s more than most, right?
      1. That’s where Rich was…
      2. He’d given it the good ol’ try
      3. Now it was time to curl up in bed and forget about the whole thing.
    9. But the community at camp rallied around Rich.
      1. Someone patched up his leg.
      2. Someone else—a person from another competitor’s team—gave Rich the part he needed to fix his bike… and then put the bike back together for him.
      3. And then the community rallied to say, Rich, you’re good to go.
      4. Rich told himself he was done!
      5. Now he wasn’t allowed to quit.
      6. So he got out there and, to bring about the happy ending, he finished the event (the three-day event!)
    10. The only thing that really threatened me in the woods…. the only thing that threatened Rich after his accident…the only thing that threatens my dunk quest… is self-doubt.
    11. William Shakespeare said this: “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”
    12. You get it right? I normally wouldn’t quote Shakespeare because the language is hard for me to navigate… but this quote makes perfect sense…
    13. Doubt robs us the good we might win by trying.
  5. Now, Let’s admit that doubt is there for a reason. 
    1. It’s part of who we are. 
    2. It’s a defense mechanism meant to keep us safe. 
    3. Our nature is this: our brains are wired to raise hell within us for rewards. We are to gather those rewards and good feelings in the easiest, safest, most expedited way possible. That’s the human brain. Overcoming those hardwired impulses demands conscious effort.
    4. And we want to overcome, because most doubts are not healthy… it’s our brain trying to steer us towards cheap rewards… rewards that ultimately make us feel like crap…
  6. So how do we short-circuit that.
    1. Here’s where self-doubt rears its ugly head… 
      1. And where I would’ve wanted to quite were I in Rich’s spot
      2. When entering something risky, like he did, there’s the doubt that says we’re not going to succeed, right.
      3. We often allow ourselves to then look to confirm that doubt
        1. In short, we commit to confirmation bias,
        2. We have a bias that we will fail, then we look for confirmation of that bias
        3. So, were I in Rich’s shoes, I would have suspected that I could not complete the Iron Man.
        4. Then, when the accident happened, I would have used that as confirmation:
          1. Saying, “whelp, it just wasn’t meant to be. At least I tried.”
          2. I love that the people around Rich weren’t going to make quitting easy on him.
          3. In fact, one of the other racer’s coaches came up to Rich and said “You’re not done yet. Now get out there.”
    2. Listening to a voice like that is one way to short circuit self doubt. 
      1. Take the optimism of someone else. 
      2. There are people around us who actually believe we can do things! 
      3. Take a listen to those folks!
        1. It might be your parents, or your spouse.
        2. Or a friend.
        3. Or a boss or co-worker.
        4. Or me!
        5. OK, maybe I don’t know you that well… but as a guy who constantly thinks “I’m normal, other people do special shit…” 
        6. Let me tell you that you’re the one who is doing the special stuff!
      4. This also might be the time to consider some coaching…
        1. So if you’re doubting your physical ability, get out there with a personal trainer
        2. Or get a career coach for the job stuff
        3. Or a life coach for the personal stuff…
        4. They can be great simply for the encouragement.
          1. I worked with a ministry coach for several years
          2. And even when my coach was critical, I still felt buoyed up because I recognized that someone cared.
      5. Now, if you’re struggling to hear those positive voices… Here’s another trick: be that voice or yourself.
        1. There was a study that I heard quoted on NPR… the study said that people who think about themselves in 3rd person terms are far more kind to themselves and exhibit stronger willpower.
        2. The study actually began by looking at kids in role play.
          1. When the kids in the study were role playing as a hero, they were far more disciplined in cleaning up after themselves and denying temptations.
          2. Because junior might struggle to clean up a messy room, but Batman has the power to own that crap.
          3. When kids stepped outside of themselves, outside of their own inner voices that are full of confirmation bias, 
          4. They excelled.
        3. A similar trick was shown to work in adults.
          1. Adults who stepped outside of their own confirmation biases were more disciplined 
        4. So the trick is to turn that little inner monologue voice into Jimmy from Seinfeld… Talk about yourself (to yourself) in the third person.
          1. I may be really prone to saying “I can’t do that!”
          2. But I’m far less prone to say “Ryan can’t do that!”
          3. Instead, I’m far more likely to say “Ryan often rises to the occasion. I could see Ryan getting that done.”
          4. “Ryan’s pretty dope, y’all … (trailing…)
          5. ANYWAYS, feels good. Try it.
    3. I think what that does is it helps to start us doubting the doubt.
      1. Which is a second trick: Doubt the doubt
      2. How do you doubt the doubt?
      3. Keep asking questions… turn that thing around…
        1. So when I start thinking “What if I don’t dunk by the end of the year?”
        2. I can doubt that doubt by saying “What if I didn’t try?”
      4. OR… simply ask “What if I did succeed?”
      5. Sometimes, we just need to allow ourselves to become comfortable with the idea of success.
      6. The whole point with this exercise is to not allow ourselves to transform uncertainties into certainties.
      7. It’s not certain I’m going to fail even when I’m trying something hard. 
        1. So why do I convince myself that failure is certain?
        2. The only way it becomes a certainty is when I fail to try.
        3. I guess that’s what Rich Roll decided.
        4. He had nothing else to lose, so he jumped back onto his fixed up bike and jumped back into that race.
          1. Dude doubted the doubt that he could finish.
          2. Maybe he could after all….
    4. It becomes easier to doubt the doubt when we’ve had a healthy dose of self-celebration
      1. Aaaand, here’s how you can do that…
      2. Make a list of successes… it’s OK to get a little vain in this.
      3. It’s far more likely that if you’re into this episode, you do not have an over-inflated ego.
      4. So let’s pump that balloon up and celebrate some of the cool things you’ve done.
        1. Did you ever graduate from something? Success, buddy.
        2. Have you survived your life? Man, that could be a HUGE success!
        3. Have you ever run a race? Success.
        4. Ever won a game? 
        5. Completed a book?
        6. Gotten a job you interviewed for?
        7. Gotten something published?
        8. Celebrate all that stuff. You’re a closer, baby! 
    5. Hey, as long as you’re listing stuff… start listing the things you’re grateful for.
      1. A lot of us become comfortable with self-doubt because we have a scarcity mindset.
      2. This is a circle-the-wagons, build-a-wall kind of mindset. 
        1. It’s a mindset that says, there’s are relatively few good things left in my life so I need to hold on to the good things I got… keep them from escaping
        2. And not let any negative things in.
          1. Failure, of course, could be a negative thing that removes some of the good things I have in life.
      3. We can whittle down that mindset by practicing some gratitude and recognizing the places of abundance in our lives.
        1. There’s going to be enough about practicing gratitude floating around this month
        2. So I’m not going to go into depth on that…
        3. Except to say, do it. Look for and recognize the various things in your life for which you are grateful.
    6. Be grateful for yourself, too.
      1. Man, the hardest person to practice compassion for can often be myself.
      2. Sometimes we are afraid of trying something and failing because we’re truly afraid of what we’re going to say to ourselves about ourselves.
      3. LIke, I don’t want to try something I might fail at because, if I do fail, I’m going to be pretty hard on myself.
      4. Practicing some self compassion short circuits that fear
        1. Because it’s easier to try and fail if we don’t fear AS MUCH the results of our failure
        2. So be kind to yourself…
      5. I realize that sounds like pithy advice…
        1. Because kindness and compassion are not things that turn on with the flick of some kind of switch or a one-time decision.
        2. Especially self-compassion
          1. Let’s face it, it’s not by conscious choice that we are hard on ourselves, is it?
          2. I think given the choice, we would definitely treat ourselves kindly.
      6. I think the best way to experience compassion is to practice compassion.
        1. If you want to experience some self-compassion, it will help to practice a good deal of outward compassion. 
        2. In order to be compassionate to yourself, practice being compassionate towards others. 
        3. In doing some, you’re going to start some good vibes flowing. And those vibes are going to spread internally.
        4. Actually, you’re going to end up feeling good about yourself because of the good things you’re doing and because of the ways in which others are responding to you.
        5. In other words, you’re going to feel good about yourself. 
      7. Now, when I say practice compassion towards others, I don’t just mean things like charitable giving…
        1. Although that does help.
          1. In fact, I think it might help you out a lot to stretch out a bit in terms of generosity.
          2. People who are generous are often people who feel pretty darn good about themselves.
          3. So be a sap and give to your friends birthday fundraiser on Facebook, or take a chance and give that guy on the street the $1.75 he’s asked for in order to get “bus fare.” 
          4. Take a chance and trust in the goodness of people and practice some generosity.
        2. And then don’t end there.
          1. Start to imagine how you can practice compassion to the people closest to you.
            1. Besides our individual selves, those closest to us are the people we’re most likely to be hard on, am I right?
            2. The critical eye we turn towards others sometimes sprouts out of the feelings of criticism we turn towards ourselves…
            3. It’s kind of the opposite of the good vibes I was talking about spinning a moment ago.
            4. We spin out negative vibes by being overly critical of ourselves and that starts to spread to others…
          2. BUT, we can short-circuit those vibes by being intentionally compassionate to those around us.
            1. In other words, start giving some grace to your spouse, kids, parents, friends… co-workers… etc… 
            2. And you’re going to start extending some grace and compassion to yourself as well.
            3. And it’s OK to start with outward actions and work inwards.
              1. So you may still feel critical of your family members or co-workers…
              2. But don’t act on all those critical thoughts. 
              3. Spend some time discerning what needs to be voiced and what does not.
              4. I catch myself all the time having to check what I say to my son… because I can get pretty critical.
              5. I try to overcome that by going out of my way to say nice things about my kid–especially to other people.
              6. NOW, not everyone has that problem…
                1. Some of you can’t stop talking about how great your kids are.
                2. Good for you!
                3. Extend that compassion by talking about how great some other people’s kids are too (haha)
        3. I think you get the picture. Spread compassion towards others until you feel it. Then you’re likely going to begin feeling it towards yourself, too.
          1. There are some other ways to nurture some self-compassion
          2. There definitely isn’t a shortage of online programs that provide resources.
          3. Just searching out “practicing self-compassion” and you’ll find plenty.
        4. I just really like the idea of spreading more compassion in general.
          1. AND, as a big believer in the idea that you are what you do, 
          2. I think practicing compassion makes us compassionate people.
  7. Alright, let me drop a review on the some tips for facing down self doubt
    1. One way is to actually listen to the voices of encouragement in your life.
      1. And with that, see if you can trick your own voice into becoming a voice of encouragement by thinking about yourself in the third person.
    2. Another way to face down self doubt: Doubt the doubt.
      1. Yes, you may fail.
      2. But you also may not fail. Go with that.
    3. Thirdly, note and celebrate your successes.
    4. Fourthly, practice some gratitude by listing the things for which you’re grateful.
    5. Fifthly, practice some self-compassion… In other words, be grateful for your own badass self.
  8. This episode was inspired by my own bouts of self doubt… which have been abundant lately.
    1. Because I just don’t know if and when these quests I’m on are going to end.
    2. I mentioned at the open that I had a detailed update on my physical quest.
    3. Well, here it is…
      1. I want to dunk a basketball.
      2. I started on this quest back in late April. It’s now early November.
      3. The plan I put together was to lose excess weight and then begin jump training.
      4. As I lost weight, I was seeking to strengthen my jumping ability.
      5. The weight plan was to get below 200 lbs… I was starting in the mid-220s, so I had a ways to go.
      6. Well, I lost a good chunk of weight. But I haven’t gotten below 200 yet.
      7. In fact, since some time in July I’ve been yo-yoing between 202 and 208 pounds.
      8. That’s a long time to yo-yo
      9. And that’s a long time to start thinking…. This is never going to happen.
      10. And now the holidays are approaching… so to say I’m scared and doubtful that I’ll hit 199 pounds in 2019 is an understatement. 
      11. But, dammit, I’m going to try. So here goes nothing.
    4. Now, I got impatient on the weight thing, so I started jump training before I hit my goal weight.
      1. That jump training looks like this:
        1. I weight train 4 days a week–only one of those days is a leg-specific day. The other three are all upper body work
        2. Balanced with that, I’m doing a jump program I found online. I do that program three days a week.
          1. It’s a twelve week program.
          2. As of recording this, I’m beginning week 10. 
          3. I’ve experienced negative returns so far. 
          4. When I began the jump training, I was able to touch the rim on a regulation basketball hoop on most jumps.
          5. At last test, I was hitting nothing but net
            1. Which is not a good thing when one is hoping to dunk
            2. I wasn’t jumping as high as I was previously
        3. Now, I’m hoping this negative return is part of the strengthening process…
          1. My legs are tired because they’re getting worked
          2. And this last portion of the twelve-week program is pretty challenging
          3. So I’m reserving judgement until after I’ve completed the program and had a little restoration or deload time.
          4. BUT, at the same time, that self-doubt is creeping on me:
            1. What if I just wasted all this time?
            2. What if this is never going to happen?
      2. That self-doubt led me to spend my first bit of money on the basketball dunking quest.
        1. I bought a program to help my jump technique
        2. Part of my issue is that my jump technique is terrible
        3. It’s very robotic… the casual observer would likely think I’m trying too hard… which I am.
        4. So, I’m working on cleaning up that technique and making things more fluid
        5. I gotta figure out how to get this train of my body into the air once it gets rolling
        6. So, I shelled out 9 bucks to get into an online coaching plan that’s supposed to add 2-6 inches to my vertical. 
        7. Two inches isn’t going to get me dunking.
        8. But 6 inches likely would…….
        9. Alright, that’s where the dunking quest is at.
        10. I’m about 3 weeks away from really testing this thing out
          1. That will give me time to complete the program,
          2. Then give me a little recovery or deloading time before I really test the results of the jump training program.
          3. Ryan can get it done, man. It may not be pretty, but Ryan will get it done.
  9. Wellll, this has been fun. 
    1. If it’s been fun or meaningful for you, please respond by leaving a rating and review on iTunes or Apple podcasts or whatever it is now.
    2. Hey, if you want to leave a low rating, tell me why. I’d appreciate the constructive feedback.
  10. My name is Ryan Dunn. I’m the producer of the Bad Ass Dad Pod.
    1. There’s a new episode coming out every other Wednesday.
    2. BUT, there’s something new on the web site EVERY week, so check out thebadpod.com to keep getting some weekly insight and inspiration.
    3. Music for this podcast is by Eyoelin.
    4. Thanks for bringing the magic to this thing.
    5. Now get some badassery on!
    6. OK Bye!

Published by RyanDunn

Ryan Dunn has a bunch of certificates on his desk. A few are awards for content production and marketing. Another marks his ordination as a minister. One says he’s earned a BA in English from the University of Iowa. The certificate next to that says he earned an MA in Christian Practice from Duke (with honors!). Ryan is most proud, though, of the things he’s created: The Compass Podcast, some deep content on RethinkChurch.org, a series of practical spiritual advice videos, a long-lasting marriage, and fantastic little boy. (He enjoyed A LOT of help on all of those projects, especially the last two.)

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