I sat staring at the email in my inbox. After a long period of drought, I had an inquiry for my services as a web designer. I should have been happy, but I wasn’t. I was terrified. This wasn’t my first client, I had done this for years. Why was this so different from before? Why couldn’t I get the words out, why was I sitting there afraid to reply to this email? Self-doubt. Somewhere along the line, little by little, rejection by rejection, self-doubt crept in. Now it was threatening to overwhelm me, to suffocate me and drive me down. “It’s safer to fail than risk true success, right?” My doubt whispered to me. Deep down I knew that wasn’t true, but the doubt wasn’t put off. “You’d fail anyway, you aren’t cut out for it. You will never be like those you look up to. The successful ones. You’ll never be like them”, it whispered as I despaired.
It doesn’t matter the guise it takes, it doesn’t matter what realm of your life it manifests in, self-doubt can creep in at any time. Perhaps it’s in your parenting skills, or your career, or you know…your entire life, and how you are such a failure, and will never amount to anything and no one will ever be proud of you again and you are letting them all down (or maybe that’s just me?) I didn’t give in to self-doubt that day though. I wrote the email. I responded. The next day I got up and reluctantly checked my email. The world didn’t end, and my self-doubt was squashed for the moment. As I pondered my future and worried excessively about if I was even going down the right life path, it occurred to me. This isn’t me. This isn’t really me. I never used to be this way, this needs to stop. There’s only one problem, how do you overcome self-doubt? How do you connect with the part of you that knows you are strong, capable and worthy?
Talk to Someone
Talk to a friend, a loved one, your spouse, a councilor, a mentor, anyone! It helps to get another perspective on the trouble we are facing. Sometimes it’s easier for other’s to see a good solution, or to point out that hey, this isn’t actually a big deal.
Protip: Looking for someone to talk to? Military One Source has free counseling resources!
Write it Out
Not into talking to someone? Or maybe it’s 3am and everyone is sleeping but you and you really just need to get this off your chest. Write. Maybe no one will ever see it but you, just writing out your problems can help get them off your chest. Get it all out, let your thoughts flow onto the page, they may bring you to the solution or peace you seek.
Take a Time Out
Stop what you are doing, and go do something else. I love to go do menial tasks, like household chores, or taking a shower. Giving my body something to do lets my mind relax, invariably the solution comes to me during these times. Give yourself time then come back to the issue at hand with a fresh perspective.
Do Something You Love
There’s no better way to connect with yourself, your REAL self, not the lying whispers of doubt, than by doing something you love. Maybe that means doing something creative like drawing, or writing, or going to your favorite cafe, or going for a walk with your dog, baking something, or refinishing that dresser. Do something just for you, something you love doing because it makes you feel good. It makes you feel happy, it makes you feel like YOU.
Connect with Something Bigger Than Yourself
If you follow a spiritual path, you may want to do a ritual, spell or pray for guidance and support from a deity of your choice. Or it may mean getting out into your community and getting involved in a cause that’s close to your heart. It’s hard to doubt yourself when you are helping others and making your community a better place.
Acknowledge Your Doubt, Then Prove It Wrong
Take back your power. What is it you doubt? Name it, face it. What have you done that proves that doubt wrong? If that doubt says you are a terrible cook, tell it no. You made that kick ass cake that one time. Everyone loved it. Then don’t forget the potluck with that appetizer you made, you know the one. There wasn’t a single scrap left to bring home. Don’t over look your achievements, no matter how small. It may not seem like much in the grand scheme but your doubt deals in absolutes. You may have made mistakes, but you also had triumphs. Remember them, honor them.
There’s nothing better than the feeling of overcoming an obstacle. Nothing silences doubt like doing the thing doubt says you cannot do. If it is a large thing, then take what steps you can do now to make it happen. Or even create a realistic plan of the steps you will be taking. Whatever actions you can take to show your doubt it’s wrong!