There you are, doing that thing you do. You’re going for it, you are all excited about the possibility and the potential and the outcome. This is totally thrilling and exciting.
But then that little nagging voice in the back of your head starts to say some things.
Do you really think you can do this? You know that you aren’t good enough, right? Everyone else has made this work, but you won’t. Stop kidding yourself, quit now before you totally fuck it all up.
Look familiar? That is self-doubt doing its damndest to sabotage you. If you choose to listen it will wreck all that you are working on doing, and leave you feeling miserable.
Self-doubt is all of your fears about both yourself and the impact of your actions on other people. Self-doubt is striving to make you feel bad, give-up, and never ever leave your comfort zones.
But the truth is that self-doubt is full of shit, and is a total liar.
Where does self-doubt come from?
In brief, self-doubt is a product of your own, largely out-dated beliefs, many of which were created when you were a kid and didn’t know any better. Additionally, self-doubt can come from well-meaning warnings passed to you be friends, family, lovers, and so on.
Just in case that’s not enough, self-doubt also comes from other outside sources that may or may not have intent towards you.
Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Your own beliefs
When you were a kid you received an inordinate amount of information from the people around you. Some had little to no impact. But some of it wormed its way to the depths of your psyche, where it planted seeds and waited, dormant.
Much of that information came from things that parents, teachers, and other authority figures said. Some positively reinforced you. But then some did not.
While aspects of these things were aimed directly at you, a lot may not have been. Examples of the things said to you may have included:
· That’s dangerous and you stay away from it!
· You’re not good enough to do that.
· You’ll never be able to accomplish that
· You got it wrong and you should feel ashamed of yourself.
And other similar things. Some of these were malicious, but a lot was more thoughtless than malicious.
Examples of things that likely were not said to you, but that planted seeds in your subconscious anyhow may have included:
· We don’t have enough money for that.
· I have no time because I have to work.
· Work is hard and not meant to be fun.
· We are too unimportant.
And the like. Most of these were not malicious but got said because that’s how your parent/guardian/teacher/authority figure saw matters.
Directed at you or not, they got into your head and became your subconscious beliefs. That’s why, even though you may be working to do a job you love, deep down you still believe that work is hard and not meant to be fun.
Enter self-doubt. That underlying, subconscious belief whispers in your ear, and lies to you about how things are.
That’s the first and arguably most prominent aspect of where self-doubt comes from.
If you have set out to do something that is not the norm or to try something that is unusual, chances are someone gave you a well-meaning warning.
What does a well-meaning warning look like? For example:
· Did you know that 1 of every 5 new businesses fail in the first year?
· Are you sure you can support your family without a traditional job?
· More writers and artists are struggling than are successful.
· I read this article online about someone doing what you are trying, and you should know…
And so on and so forth. Overall, none of this is malicious or mean-spirited, it is said to you in order to show how much the person cares.
I know that it often does not feel that way. Well-meaning warnings may be intended to be supportive, but they generally aren’t. Support usually doesn’t involve feeding your self-doubt.
For years I have been writing. It was not so long ago that I decided to have a go at writing full-time to earn my living. I am not there yet, but with the unvarnished support from my wife, I am going for it. Other members of my family have been supportive, while a few have proffered well-meaning warnings as part of their “support.”
I give an “A” for effort but would really prefer that you not give my self-doubt more ammunition.
One of the biggest downsides of living in the information age is how instantaneously you can access things. News, entertainment, raw data, real and fake knowledge is everywhere, can be difficult to sift through, and can be completely contradictory.
The majority of the outside sources you encounter are not directly intent on feeding your self-doubt. For the most part, they just are there. However, because this is a fear-based society, negativity is often easier to come by than positivity.
· The economy is doing poorly.
· A recession is coming.
· New taxes will impact writers and artists.
· Everything is awful and we should all just give up.
And the like. You get the idea. There is all this information being tossed about, and though it may not be aimed at YOU specifically, you could be impacted by it.
Self-doubt tends to live in your subconscious. There it absorbs everything it gets like the biggest sponge in the Universe. That is, unless you filter it out.
Filtering out the self-doubt
The key is…drum roll please…mindfulness. Being aware of your thoughts and feelings, in particular, can put self-doubt on notice. When you know what you are thinking and want and how you are feeling, you have automatically erected a barrier against self-doubt and the shit it’s spewing at you.
Because of the triple-threat that fuels self-doubt, it can take a lot of practice to be mindful. But the result is that all those lies self-doubt tells you are revealed as such. When you know self-doubt is totally full of shit, it’s far easier to find and create ways and means to combat it.
How do you combat self-doubt?
When it arises, the first step is to recognize it. Take a look at it, and see where it is rooted. Later you can go in and dig out the roots when you have more time. If you don’t, by the way, it is entirely likely that it will creep back into your psyche in the future.
Second, thank it for protecting you. More often than not the lies self-doubt tells are meant to keep you safe. How? By keeping you from taking a potential risk. It’s called a comfort zone because it’s comfortable.
Third, release it. Doing so is a matter of influencing and taking control of what you are thinking and what and how you are feeling. By being mindful of the now and what is going on inside your head, you can see self-doubt for the lying shit that it is, and push it out.
Later, yes, you really do need to dig out its roots so that the same self-doubt will be disempowered and no longer able to fuck with you.
Self-doubt is full of shit
In conclusion, it’s important that you see self-doubt for the lie that it is. When you are after a new thing that may be a pretty massive change, this is a typical occurrence. Don’t let the doubt set you into a negativity spiral where you question your value and worth. That will sabotage whatever you are trying to do.
There will be good days and bad days, but you can do this. When you are striving to consciously create a new and better reality self-doubt is just playing dirty to keep you inside a known comfort zone. Everyone goes through this when they make active changes in their lives.
You are just as worthy and deserving of success as anyone else is. Kick some ass, take some names, and remember that self-doubt is not telling the truth.
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you matter, and you can send self-doubt for a long walk off of a short pier.