What is doubt? Specifically, what is self-doubt? The definition of doubt according to Merriam Webster dictionary includes the words fear, distrust, and suspect. Self-doubt then it seems is especially nasty. When one is in self-doubt he or she is calling into question the basis of belief. The ground becomes shaky and unstable in self-doubt and suspicion of one’s own core can paralyze growth and forward momentum. A person in doubt, especially an analytical person, gets caught in a tangle of what-ifs. Self-doubt can potentially unravel and undo progress.
Recently I have been examining self-doubt in the meditation pack I have been using in Headspace. Thinking about doubt in a concrete way and recognizing it when it rears its head has been the focus. Lately I have felt quite stuck and adrift in many areas. In my work I have been questioning my efforts and contributions and the value of them. At home I have been analyzing my relationships with family and friends. I have ceased to write and have been mired in the intricate examination of every little detail of my day in my head. I see clearly now that self-doubt is at the core of it all.
In my instruction with the pack I am listening to I am asked to recognize doubt when it occurs, see it as a thought, and let it go. For example, if I am doubting the point of my current writing project, what exactly does that mean? For me it means, I stop and examine the why of it all? What is my point? What is the purpose? Although fear was the archaic definition of doubt offered by Merriam Webster, it was the first definition and for me it is the crux. Self-doubt is just a fear. Fear is an emotion that ceases movement of a forward, progressive nature. It is a retreat and an abandonment of all that is there. Doubt is at the core of my issues right now and in thinking about it as a mere thought and not a truth, I am able to let it go.
So I will give a passing nod to doubt when it enters the room, just to be polite, and I will move on. Doubt is merely a reason to pause. Perhaps it can make a small point and interject a chance for reflection, but it should never be allowed to halt progress entirely. Self-doubt is self-sabotage cloaked in a friendlier, more familiar garb. It doesn’t look terribly imposing or ominous but it most certainly can be. I will be watching for it when it comes my way, and move on.
“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
What are some areas in your life that are causing you self-doubt and how much time do you spend thinking about it? I am interested to know what keeps you treading water.