Self doubt is one hell of a life sabotager.
Every person on earth has met self doubt. It can be subtle, loud, persistent, pestering, inconvenient, or a sheer mind plague. Some of us encounter it occasionally or when we are particularly triggered, some of us will be plummeted with doubtful thoughts as we go about our daily lives, and some of us feel it permeates and cripples every area of our life to the point of non-functionality.
There are many reasons we are self doubting, of course… childhood.
Parents with high expectations for us may have gotten us down from a young age and implanted a belief of unworthiness.
We may have heard a lot of positie or negative critcism throughout our lives.
We may be buying into all the varied opinions on what being an accomplished, successful, attractive, or good person is according to the mainstream media and society.
We may have made mistakes in our past that we still harbor shame or regret for.
We may simply have felt doubtful of ourselves for as far back as we can remember, and don’t understand why.
The list of reasons goes on.
Here’s the part about it that I hate the most- it doesn’t actually have to be based in any “reality”.
Whether or not there is actually truth or justification for the doubt- I believe it always deserves validation. I believe self doubt is mental, emotional, and somatic. I believe it can literally take up residence in our bodies. We may assume that someone doesn’t struggle with doubting themselves because we see them in a self-assured light, but self doubt is a silent epidemic that no one is really immune from. Taking action does not mean self doubt is not present. Also, the presence of self doubt does not mean we aren’t healing or able to accomplish great things.
I have done a lot of work in the personal development arena. In doing this work, I know logically, my self doubt isn’t often based on something real, but more of a deep inner belief or emotional tie. Knowing this, doesn’t mean it always responds to my knowing. Self doubt is a piece of trauma.
I view self doubt largely as simply another passing emotion and psychological process, which I maintain a practice of feeling. Even if my doubting does stem from actual lack of abilities or something of the like, it often goes much deeper to a tender spot. A deep psychological trauma and a wounded emotional body. Deep hurt. I also know it can even physically produce symptoms like fatigue, pain, heaviness, a lack of motivation. Self doubt can be an emotional and physical drain.
It’s very helpful to have a lot of awareness of when we are in a state of self doubt, what our process looks like, and more understanding of why it’s there for us. It’s helpful to have great tools, affirmations, practices to help us through. To do the things anyway, full of fear and doubt.
Deep hurt still needs to FELT. Feeling is still my most valuable tool.
Sometimes it just doesn’t matter what we know. Sometimes the feelings of doubt are so permeating, that they continue to cripple us. Sometimes, I experience a version of self doubt in almost everything I do. Even in times where I felt I was doing my most purposeful work; writing, creating a book, holding events, public speaking- there are often many layers of doubt and fear to work through, or that remain present.
I have a practice of breathing into the doubt, giving it a huge hug, knowing that it’s a valid part of me, telling it it’s okay. Sometimes it still catches me by surprise, sometimes it alchemizes into something else, and sometimes it does knock me down. I just now know it’s another part of me I can coexist with. I know now I can still accomplish my goals with it present.
We don’t have to fight against it, reject it, or power-of-positive-thinking our way out of it- it’s okay to just feel it. To accept it. To welcome it.
Self doubt can be major a hinderance to the things we want to create, putting our gifts into the world, or even the most basic things- and it’s my experience that starting with a friendship to this complex emotion FIRST, can be life changing.
Sometimes feeling the emotion in our body, the sensations it creates, hearing the thoughts, feeling the intense sensation of the doubt, is the best thing we can do. Use your tools, lean into taking action anyway through doubt, just don’t forget that feeling can be our most powerful tool sometimes.
What happens when you let up on fighting it? What does your self-doubt need to communicate to you that you perhaps haven’t been able to hear?