Doubt is a head trip – doubting ourselves, doubting what we deserve and doubting what is real. When we feel a lack of control, when the outcome is uncertain, or even when we latch onto a vague remark, that’s when self-doubt rears its ugly head. It’s a fluttering in the chest and an unsettled stomach; it’s a major headache and a gust of wind sending us into a dust-filled spiral.
Doubt is a form of armor, I’ve deduced. When I start to doubt myself – my capabilities, my relationships, my character – I formulate questions or negative statements in my mind to protect myself from hurt or disappointment. Because if I’ve thought of it first, I am prepared. Disappointment won’t come as a surprise, I tell myself, because I have made the doubt a part of my truth.
I am sick of it.
I am sick of doubt, and how utterly exhausting the process is. I’ll feel the fluttering in my chest and start to devise little tests, tiny ways to see if what I am receiving is deserved or if I am really properly suited for the task at hand. I do it all the time. And I know I am not alone in this.
It’s like essay writing in a high school English course: we create supporting evidence for the thesis statements that pop into our minds. We doubt that we are good enough for someone, so we place them on a tightrope and look for signs that it’s “just not right.” We’re offered a new job or responsibility and jump to the what-ifs at the opposite end of success. If we’re looked at in that way or talked to in that tone or described as merely “nice” instead of “amazing,” the question arises: Am I good enough?
It’s so simple to say things like “Don’t worry, be happy!” or my personal (and least-effective) favorite, “Haters gonna hate!” But the truth is…I will never advocate to just “get over it,” because I know that feeling exists for a reason. With doubt comes a drought of self-worth – but every drought is accompanied by a fantastical rain, so why should it be any different when it comes to our souls?
As uncomfortable as it can be, we need to let doubt run its course yet simultaneously and consciously work through it. And by learning how to deal with those pangs of self-doubt, their duration and impact will naturally become less and less. We do need to experience it all – but if we allow doubt to fill our minds with every possible outcome as a means of protection, we miss out on growth and experience. We shield ourselves from hurt, yes – but then what? The thrill of joyful success morphs into mere relief. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to live my life simply “relieved” that there were no bumps in the road.
Doubt is a matrix in which lies the root of our purpose. We doubt what we’re best at and what makes us unique. And so when we start to doubt, it’s simply a sign we are losing our footing in who we are. We are not grounded.
When you feel yourself jumping ahead, dissociate from the situation at hand. Feel the doubt and the instability, then act on the polar opposite. A mentor recently taught me a trick that I deem nothing short of genius. Ask yourself: What makes you feel most grounded and at your best? Is it talking to friends or family? Watching movies? Singing in the car, baking a pie, simply strolling and soaking in the eclectic architecture around you? Whatever it is, do it. Do it now, for at least ten minutes straight. And I promise you, by the end of those ten minutes you will feel that there is no one better to be than who you are in this very moment.
I am slowly learning to shed my armor, and realizing that the only protection I need is a good sunscreen and a wide umbrella. I’m planting my feet and realizing that the more certain I am about what makes me feel good from the inside out, the less I allow doubt to deplete my self-worth. Because it’s been tapping into my reserves and sucking me dry for way too long.
My spirit is about to be awakened once again, and I can’t wait. Grab your umbrella and join me.