Self-Doubt is a sneaky guest that seems to pop-up anywhere and everywhere, uninvited and unannounced. Self-Doubt is keen to hang out with women in general (believe me, have asked plenty of my girlfriends). But it is fair to assume that everyone has dealt with or is dealing with this unwanted guest.
Must confess that a couple of months ago, Self-Doubt was not being sneaky on me. To my surprise, I was consciously sending it invitations to tag along. We were chatting daily. Every morning, we would have long conversations during breakfast. I found myself practically saving Self-Doubt a seat at my table.
One of those mornings, while refilling my favorite mug with dark roasted Colombian coffee (my favorite), it hit me. I had coffee dates with Self-Doubt daily. I could not help to laugh about the irony of it all. Here I was, drinking coffee from a mug that literally said in bright pink and gold letters: “She believed she could, so she did,” about to go back to the table and consciously dissect every one of my negative thoughts.
The only coffee dates that are not encouraged.
Standing in my kitchen, staring blankly at the coffee maker, I could feel an epiphany rising not just in my mind, but in my chest. At that moment, I asked myself these three questions: Where does Self-Doubt come from? Why it seems to be always present? Why does it always find its way back to me?
Almost instantly, a fourth and more powerful question came to me: Why do you care?
I had to admit to myself that these so-called coffee dates were part of my routine now. I was hosting and entertaining Self-Doubt, but I didn’t like this guest. I didn’t want it at my home. I didn’t wish for Self-Doubt to have a seat on my table.
Maybe it was a bit overdramatic, but that day I felt I needed to do it. I sat at my table, pulled up a chair, and said (out loud), “Coffee dates are over starting now, you are not welcome here. I do not want or need you, so just go the hell away.”
Of course, this is not the end of the story. Self-doubt is persistent. After that conversation, I reflected a lot about why I was feeling that way. Self-doubt will always be around and will always try to sneak back. It is powerful, though, to acknowledge its presence and to dismiss it. Loud and clear.
The acknowledgment part seems to be the trickiest. Acknowledging its presence could take one minute, one hour, or way longer. I do not know precisely why, but I have learned that perceived weakness and vulnerability are involved.
By acknowledging Self-Doubt, we are accepting that we are vulnerable to this self-made negative guest, and sometimes that is scary. It is scary to consciously accept not just its presence but the impacts it has brought to our lives and to specific situations, choices, decisions, and interactions.
Accepting that I had these dates daily was hard. It was scary to look back four weeks or even a week before and realize the role Self-Doubt was playing in my life. It had had a protagonist role everywhere, lately. At work, in my feelings towards my body and in my mood. Self-doubt was taking a front seat in conversations with my partner and in how I envisioned my future goals at the time.
Be Fearless. Allowing Self-Doubt to hang out with you does not make you weak. It is just a moment of weakness; nothing more. Be Fearless to remind yourself of this and move on. Acknowledging its presence only makes us stronger. The ability to identify and understand our fears is critical not just in the path of reinvention or following our dreams, but in the actual act of living.
There will be times were a loud-voiced dismissal will be enough. Sometimes, however, the effort to not make conversation or entertain this intruder will be tremendous. It gets easier, with time. And with reflection.
Reflection can mean pulling up a chair and having a coffee with yourself. Reflection can mean meditating or writing about how you feel. Reflection can be talking with a friend, mentor, or coach. When reflecting, try to answer two questions. Why do you care about Self-Doubt’s opinion? What is triggering its presence?
Self-Doubt is a fierce enemy, one of the toughest there is. So as with every enemy, the final step is to assemble. After acknowledgment and reflection, it is time to fight against it. Be relentless. Resist the urge to pull up a chair and give it a seat at your table. Be merciless, and never be afraid of saying to its face (sometimes out loud): Go the hell away!
So, dear YOU, my Fearless friend, let’s take action and spread the voice: Acknowledge, Reflect & Assemble!