The Monster Known as Self-Doubt
Self-doubt is a bitch. Self-doubt plays mind games. It tells you your worst fears are going to come true, and that you are going to fail in the most epic way possible. That no matter what you do, you’re doing the wrong thing, and honey it ain’t gonna be pretty, so you should just give up now and forget about doing whatever it is you wanted to do. But you know what else self-doubt is? Self-doubt is a liar.
What self-doubt really is, is stepping out of your comfort zone and leaving the safety of the nest. Sure, you want to stay in a nest and pretend that there is not a world outside, but that nest holds you back from life and doesn’t allow you to think for yourself. That nest forms you into what the nest believes in, and not what you believe in. It makes you a whole and not an individual. Now the nest is good for lots of things, but if you want to progress in pretty much anything at life you have to leave the nest, and that is painful.
Why is it so painful to do things that we are afraid of? Why is it terrifying when we know what we want, we know what we should do to get it, but we are paralyzed with fear as if there was a rabid unicorn waiting in the corners for us to falter so it can pounce? Unfortunately, part of the answer is the very thing that allows us to dream, and that’s our imagination. Maybe we don’t consciously acknowledge it, but in the back of our minds we’re going oh crap, oh crap, oh crap. What if I fail? What if I fail so epically I end up on the streets and my new idea of building an addition to the “house” is to find another card board box? I better just stay miserable ‘cause you know, this miserable is so much better than that other potential miserable, even though that other potential miserable is probably not going to happen. Like ever. Do you see what I’m getting at here? Humans love to dream, but to actually do something toward that dream, uh-uh, no, *runs the other way.*
Okay, so now that you know that self-doubt is a liar, and that choosing to stay in the nest is a perpetuation of being miserable, how do you get out of it? Well, that’s the hard part, because it means you have to be okay with not being okay, and that’s easier said than done. What you can do is keep yourself in check when you start imagining worst case scenarios. Like I’m pretty sure if you write a book and it gets rejected you’re not going to be shunned from the entire world for the rest of your life and made to live as an outcast. Although it might make a good reality TV show. But what is likely to happen is you get upset for a bit, then you try again. You send your book, or do whatever it is you’re worried about doing, to another publisher. And repeat. Until you get to where you want to go. You also have to realize that although fear sucks, it can only immobilize you it if you let it. Fear is a horrible lingering feeling when you step outside your comfort zone, but that’s all it is. A lingering feeling. Kind of like gremlins. If you get them wet, they go crazy, but if you don’t you’re fine. Don’t get the fear wet.
Another thing that happens when you leave you’re comfort zone is things get easier when you do them over and over again. See, when you leave your comfort zone, what you’re really doing is expanding your nest. So once your nest catches up with you, you won’t feel like the world is going to end if you screw up this one thing that used to make you terrified.
Self-doubt and fear of leaving the nest will never really completely leave you. Or at least I don’t think they will, but they are quite manageable. And remember, you don’t have to be perfect, and if you fail, there is always another opportunity.
How do you manage self-doubt?