How often have you listened to your self-doubt? Listened to the point that it affects a decision you want to make?
You may not even know you are allowing your self-doubt to affect your decisions. It’s okay. We’ve often done things without realizing the where’s and why’s. But next time you want to make an important decision, and you feel yourself freezing, ask yourself: is this coming from a place of self-doubt?
Listen to the voice that pipes up. What is the tone of the internal conversation? Do you hear encouragement or discouragement? Is the rationale reasonable, or is it unfairly assessing your capabilities?
What Does it Mean?
Self-doubt is the belief we are incapable of doing something. We might compare ourself to others, be obsessively goal-oriented, or feel like an impostor. The end result is feeling like we aren’t able to do something, so why bother trying?
There may be an appearance of logic to our reasoning, i.e., why should we attempt something new that might be dangerous if we’ve never done it before? But that itself is dangerous thinking. It keeps us within our comfort zones and does not allow for growth of any kind.
We have to look at why our self-doubt wants to keep us within an unhealthy dynamic and what it’s trying to tell us.
Often, self-doubt follows moments of deep self-reflection because we are now acutely aware of our limitations. I find that I get frustrated by my anxiety after some self-reflection, which heightens my anxiety and can cause me to freeze. Self-doubt is the voice I hear that encourages me to engage in the unhealthy behavior of staying frozen.
What helps me is figuring out the root of my self-doubt.
Origin of Doubt
Like many of our internal beliefs and behaviors, doubt comes from childhood. It may come from grownups in our lives teaching us to doubt ourselves, or it may come from our experiences. Think back when you did something dangerous on the playground. You may have really hurt yourself to the point of never wanting to take the same risk again. Now you have an aversion towards tasks and opportunities that remind you of the incident.
The self-doubt does not come from a bad place as much as it comes from a place of personal protection. You may want to protect your ego, body, or relationships because you are worried about the pain.
We may no longer be running from other apex predators, but humans still (for the most part) try to avoid painful experiences emotionally and physically. We find ways to protect ourselves from feeling that pain. We may blame others for our own failings, project our deepest thoughts onto others, and we engage in our self-doubt to not even attempt to make changes or do something new.
But it’s about pushing through that pain, embracing it, getting back on that horse and not worrying about the consequences.
But let’s take a moment and talk about those…
When we give into our self-doubt and say “it’s not worth making a lifestyle change;” or “I don’t do diets because they never work;” or “why try finding a way to adapt to my chronic illness, I am never going to be cured;” we accept the severe consequences. Sorry to be melodramatic about it, but the consequences are what keeps us in an unhealthy mindset, body, and approach to our chronic illness.
When we give into our self-doubt, we say it’s okay to be unhealthy.
There are moments, to be sure, when we engage in self-doubt and those are okay provided we find a way to move beyond them. I am talking about refusing to make any changes when you recognize the problem.
A moment of self-doubt that I am still working through is written communication. I love writing my blog posts, but when it comes time to write and email or text message, I freeze. It comes from a place of fear, mostly of the other party expressing frustration or anger at my delay in responding.
So I don’t send the communication. I don’t even write it most times. Which gets me more anxious over how much time has passed…it becomes a vicious cycle.
This unhealthy way of thinking and behaving causes me to lose out on meaningful connections and opportunities because I am so caught up in my self-doubt. It took me years to get healthy because I doubted I could.
You may find yourself in a similar space where your self-doubt stops you. There may be something you really want to do, but because of your chronic illness you don’t want to try because you don’t think you can.
I am here to tell you that you can. You can always try and do something. It may not look exactly the way you want because you don’t have the means to match your mind’s eye, but you can always make an attempt.
At this moment, the only person stopping you from figuring out how you can do it is yourself.
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