The challenges that self-doubt presents can bring us face to face with the greatest uncertainties in life.
It is no wonder that when this space is not managed carefully that we can end up feeling overwhelmed and helpless.
It’s no wonder that we will often do anything we can to avoid coming face to face with these challenges.
My Greatest Self-Doubt Challenge
My greatest self-doubt challenge is around long-term security and housing. It’s a situation where there is no immediate solution and it can feel like the sword of damocles hanging over my head.
When self-doubt presents a situation like this, where there is so much unknown and uncertain about the future, the only realistic response is to manage myself on a day to day basis. It’s a balance between living responsibly and preparing for the future and making sure I’m not living completely in the future, or penny-pinching each moment. After all, I may not even make that long-term future, so I don’t want to sacrifice the now completely!
But this is the area of self-doubt that is mostly likely to present itself when I least want it to.
‘Something’ happens to trigger the self-doubt experience; usually a sense of uncertainty brought on by a random comment or maybe something in a news story… it doesn’t take much.
For me, the self-doubt experience hits me straight in the gut with a sense of uneasiness, a well of uncontrolled anxiety opening up. A sense of the rug being pulled out from underneath my feet.
Then the self-doubt experience travels all the way up to my head and that’s when the thoughts start tumbling through.
‘What’s going to become of us?’ (I’m going to end up homeless, on the street or living out of my car).
‘Why am I in this situation?’ (I’ve not managed my life well enough to have this security in place already).
Then the emotions are triggered; the shame of not being enough, the anger and frustration of not being where I want to be, the sadness and helplessness of not being where I want to be…
When the self-doubt experience is left unchecked, what usually happens next is the drive to do something, to make something happen.
Everything begins with a Google search doesn’t it? A rabbit hole of house prices, estate agents, looking for… something… some nugget to remove the anxiety.
But the trouble is that there’s nothing I can really do to resolve this situation immediately, so anything I find will be a short-term, temporary fix (and the whole situation could change again by next week).
Not that Google searches are not helpful but the trouble is when action is driven by this sense of anxiety and the messages that self-doubt presents, then it’s not the best state of mind to explore information or make any decisions.
It’s all a waste of energy.
And it doesn’t have to be this way!
Meeting Self-Doubt in a Different Way
I honestly didn’t have any idea what was going to be uncovered when I began exploring the purpose of self-doubt. One of the greatest gifts from this work has been learning to meet these experiences of self-doubt in an entirely different way.
One of the guiding principles of this work (which I learned from the practice of Integrative Restoration iRest Meditation) is about welcoming everything into our lives.
And when working with self-doubt, this is where we begin.
But it doesn’t come naturally.
Human beings are driven by our highly tuned autonomic neurobiology to avoid discomfort and threat and seek opportunity and comfort. This is why, left unchecked, the experience of self-doubt will drive you anxiously to seek a quick solution.
But that solution will almost never be the best solution.
Instead when we learn to meet the experience of self-doubt with compassionate curiosity, we can learn to hold back on taking actions for the exhausting sake of taking actions.
We can use the experience of self-doubt as an opportunity to explore what is driving us and why it is driving us.
We develop awareness and perspective about our situation and in creating a better relationship with self-doubt, we create a better relationship with ourselves.
Then we can find a more healthy, mature, and considered base to take actions.
And THIS is the time to begin our Google search.
How To Meet Self-Doubt in a Different Way
Next time you’re faced with an overwhelming experience of self-doubt, try this new To Do List:
1. Welcome Self-Doubt
Imagine you walk into a party and nobody notices your arrival. You have to find your own place to put your coat and your own way to the buffet. It’s kind of an awkward feeling to not be welcomed, isn’t it?
As opposed to the door being opened by the host and being invited in. They are pleased to see you, there is warmth in their eyes, ‘come and meet my friend, they say to everyone.
I’m so happy you’re here.
This is what it means to WELCOME self-doubt.
Well, that might be a big ask to welcome self-doubt in such a manner immediately (but I’m working towards it, I promise you).
But at least don’t fight self-doubt. Don’t exclude it.
If you can’t welcome it in, at least allow it to be present with no need to fix or change it.
2. Notice the Experience of Self-Doubt
Next, take a moment to check-in with the experience of self-doubt in your body.
Where and how do you feel self-doubt in your body?
What are the sensations that accompany self-doubt?
Breathe into that area of your body, deep breaths in and out of your nose.
Get curious about the sensations and allow them to be here, no need to fix or change it.
Secondly, notice the emotions that accompany self-doubt, the fear, the worry, the frustration. Just notice them, no need to fix or change them, allow them to be here.
Breathe in and out of your nose.
Thirdly, notice the thoughts that accompany self-doubt.
The negative self-talk, the story that accompanies self-doubt. It is just that, a story. Just welcome in the messages, no need to fix or change them. No need to respond to them.
Notice how the different parts of your experience trigger each other but how they are entirely different parts of your experience.
No need to fix or change.
Here's The First Thing You Need
In order to welcome the experience of self-doubt in this way, with no need to fix or change it, the first thing you need is…
The courage to face the situation.
The courage to face the situation.
Welcome it in, no need to fix or change.
And importantly, no need to respond with actions driven by fear and anxiety.
The foundation of courage is where we find the opportunity for meaningful and sustainable growth over short-term fixes.
Then this is where the real learning begins and this is where the real potential lies.
My situation isn’t going to resolve itself overnight. My situation may never resolve itself.
But in facing the situation, I have learned so much.
Throughout all the work I’ve done, it became obvious to me how this story of long-term in security and housing problems is not simply my story. it’s one I inherited from my parents and it is what drove them to move houses six times by the time I was six years old.
Well, it’s no wonder I carry some baggage in this area.
(Note, I never could have discovered this through a Google search).
With this expanded perspective, I can be so much more gentle with myself around this situation and I can also realise that my self-doubt trigger may not even be as extreme as it often feels.
What is Courage?
I just Googled a definition of courage, here’s a nice one:
“Strength in the face of pain or grief“.
(Note, helpful time to use a Google search)!
Here’s the thing about courage.
It doesn’t feel like we think courage should feel.
When we think about courage, we usually come up with images of conquering something – the flag on the top of a mountain?
But that moment of having conquered is not what courage is. What courage is, is what it takes you to get there.
And when meeting with self-doubt, these uncertainties and insecurities that hit you right in the gut with anxiety, THAT’S what courage feels like.
This is why it seems so much easier to go about our lives avoiding self-doubt, pushing it to the background of our experience and never really facing it. This might look more like courage but it’s not.
I love this quote by Brené Brown
“Daring greatly is being brave and afraid every minute of the day at exactly the same time.“
Think about it, you can only be brave when you’re afraid.
Courage, bravery, feels like being afraid. Very afraid. This is true courage.
I’m going to leave you with one of my own favourite poems, which is the one that I share most regularly for people who are facing challenges.
It’s called You Will Know and it’s about trusting yourself.
What is Courage?
If you are prepared to meet self-doubt using the steps I have detailed in this post, then I’d love to know how that goes for you.
Please get in touch, I’m always here to listen.
Or maybe you would appreciate some one-to-one support to welcome the challenge of self-doubt?
As part of my new coaching package, I am offering a free-of-charge, no obligation consultation session where we will focus upon welcoming self-doubt and recognising it as a positive influence in your life.
You can sign up for this session by completing this questionnaire: