Self-doubt is such a trap. I’m feeling so much self-doubt right now. It is a bit frustrating because I know that if I just keep truckin and plugging away at the things I’m working on, eventually I will look back at this time of self-doubt and scoff.
“Ha!” I shall say.
I don’t mean that I’ll look back and realize that everything went exactly according to plan, I mean that I’ll look back and think about what a waste of time all of that self-doubt was, because it only contributed to the things that didn’t go my way or the time it took for me to get my ass in gear.
So why doubt myself at all?
Doubt in and of itself isn’t an emotion. It is possible to feel happy and doubtful as much as it is possible (and likely) to feel unhappy and doubtful. For example, I derive a feeling of great joy from doubting that the Lagina brothers will find the treasure of Oak Island—mostly because they are just so damn certain that they will! Bless them. (If you don’t understand my example you need more History Channel in your life, plain and simple. So no, I will not explain it to you. Go watch some and discover the magic for yourselves).
I derive no pleasure from doubting myself. It just feels so icky and pointless, which brings me to the ACTUAL emotion behind icky doubt: fear.
Fear is so sneaky. I am convinced that I love being afraid, as I have figured out many and subtle ways to inject it into my daily experience. Doubt is the trojan horse for my fear. My fear waits for doubt like a kid waits for Christmas. I’ll be going about my day, blissfully unaware, and then something happens…
A project I’m working on takes a bit longer than I expected.
I’m feeling confused about a friendship.
I forgot to take chicken out of the freezer for dinner.
One small moment of doubt—one hint of the thought “I can’t do this”—and fear comes tearing into the living room, ripping wrapping from presents and discarding it everywhere, amped up on holiday cheer and sugar cookies shaped like Rudolph. What I am left with in its wake is utter destruction. Over time I’ve done some pretty serious work on myself so that the destruction, thankfully, is kept to a bearable minimum, but sometimes I’m just not on my game. Today has been one of those days.
If you looked at my day from the outside you probably wouldn’t think I’ve been a little ball of barely contained anxiety. I woke up, ate some breakfast, took the dog for a walk, went to the coffee shop to do work with my friend, finished a draft of a writing project and sent it to my boss, had some iced tea, did some of my own personal writing, took the dog on a walk again, spent some time with my boyfriend, made dinner, watched a Marie Forleo video—you know, like a normal Saturday. A pretty good Saturday, actually.
Yet all day I’ve had this weird uneasy feeling building in the area around my solar plexus. I ignored it at first, thinking that maybe my breakfast wasn’t sitting well or something. I did my work, got some other things accomplished (notice the destruction at a minimum here), but finally at around 5pm I had to figure out what was going on.
My boyfriend had just come home from work and we were updating each other about our respective days. As I told him about my uneventful yet productive Saturday he was looking at me funny, and when I finished he asked me if I was okay.
Sure, I said. Just a little tired. He asked if there was anything I needed, or what I wanted to do to maybe feel a bit better. I thought about it and realized that I had no idea what I wanted to do, what I needed from him, what I thought we should have for dinner—nothing.
I am a lady who knows what she wants, and I definitely have no issue telling my boyfriend what I would like from him. Asking him to do stuff for me is like my third favorite activity ever. So when I came up empty I knew that something was up.
If one part of my life is stuck, chances are very good that I’ll get stuck in other areas until I actually sit down to locate the blockage. My blockage, it turned out, was self-doubt. I finally feel like my life is gaining traction, and I’m heading in a direction that I find very exciting, but some days I wonder if I’m doing enough, or if I’m doing the right things, or if I’m really going to be able to achieve the things I want to achieve in life.
In summary, I take an entire life’s worth of pressure and expectation and cram it into one 12-hour period. The fact that I’ve managed to get myself to place where I only feel mild anxiety as a result of this is a damn miracle.
Of course my first thought when I noticed this was “CRAP.” Ugh, I’m doubting myself??? REALLY?? Remember yesterday, self? Remember feeling super good and confident and sexy and wearing high heels and feeling like the mistress of all you survey? Remember THAT CHICK?? Where did she go? Bring her back! I demand it! I will not be denied!!!!!
That strategy worked! I’ve since written four novels, won a pulitzer, solved world hunger, fixed global warming, cured cancer, and figured out how to remove the sugar, hangover, and regrets from a bottle of wine.
Clearly not. But that’s okay.
I’m having a weird day. It happens. It happens to literally everyone. The thing I’ve learned I have to do when I realize I’m having one of those “I’m not really sure things are going to be okay” moments is to just embrace it. There is information in there that I can learn from. I never figured out what I wanted to eat for dinner (I wound up adding kale to some leftover curry and rice and it was delicious, so no regrets there) but I did think of some things I could do that would make me feel a bit less anxious. Maybe one day I wont doubt myself, because I will have learned everything I need to learn from that experience, but for right now I’m going to take things one step at a time.
Step one: practice ways to doubt myself less.
Step two: embrace what it is to truly feel unstoppable.
Step three: become the flawless mistress of my own life.
Okay, step one. Here we go…