Our self-doubt is a traitor

My life belongs to me. What I think, feel, do and believe matters. But what happens when what you think and feel and do sends you into a nosedive rather than filling you with joy?

Most of the time I’m an optimist but I’ve been listening to Doubting Doris, Impatient Ivy and Procrastination Pattie way too often – together they’re the DIP. And when I listen to them I find myself doubting, impatient and procrastinating – a lot!

It’s so easy to slip back into the DIP, in lots of ways the DIP is safe, comfortable and familiar, you know your boundaries, the DIP keeps you from taking risks, and you know the feel and the expectations (or lack of them).  The DIP keeps the worries and fears to a minimum and hides them out of sight and out of mind.

For me the DIP is self-doubt and self-doubt comes in all shapes and sizes.  At its core self-doubt is fear.  Fear of failure, success, being unloved, being alone, etc…

Here’s some of what I tell myself. “I’m too… busy, tired, old, introverted, unfit, broke to do that thing or take that risk.” “What happens if… nobody speaks to me, reads my stuff, buys my programs, comes to my events.”  And I can justify anything to stay in the dip. “I deserve a break, I can do it later, I’ll just watch one or three more episodes, just check Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn to see what’s happening.”

Sound familiar? Who takes you down?

Now why is it so bad in the DIP?

William Shakespeare says it well…

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

The “good we oft might win”.  Not every time, but sometimes we might find that good.  And that good also comes in all shapes and sizes. And sometimes that good is freaking awesome.

Now that I’m more conscious of my DIP friends, Doris, Ivy and Pattie generally have less effect than in earlier years. I used to spend months in a downer, moping around aimlessly, or keeping myself so busy doing other people’s stuff that my dreams got all mouldy.

So I choose a different direction.

Choose a different path

Choose a different path

These days I can head for the PEAK instead. It takes more mindfulness, courage and commitment but it’s worth it.

Progress Prue says “progress not perfection, don’t wait till it’s perfect, just do it, attempt it, put it out there”. Because my life belongs to me and what I think, feel, do and believe matters and that’s what counts.

Enthusiasm Emma tells me “you know you feel better when you’re doing something you love, you feel alive, you’re motivated, you’re inspiring, so get on.”

Action Amy is my best voice (although I do have to watch that she doesn’t take over and drown everybody else out). She tells me “just freaking do something, anything, attempt it and take a single tiny step up and out, head in the direction of your dream, now.” And before I know it, I’ve done that thing and maybe even the next thing and the list is smaller and the dream is closer.

Kindness Kate keeps me from self-flagellation which I can be so good at. Kate is all about self-compassion and love.  She helps me celebrate the good, keep my sense of humour and put the not so good into perspective.  She gives me time for me, for mindfulness, for gratitude and for dreams.

Do you have names for your inner voices?  Think about it for a while and spend a little time journaling. I found that by naming them, I could recognise when they were steering and choose differently. I could choose to love, honour and accept myself and to get up and go again.

Thanks for reading


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