Monday, January 14, 2013

Conquering Self-Doubt

We're not robots. That's why we do things like burn out, get tired, need support. Like writing: even knowing you're a good writer, and that an agent passed not because of your writing quality but because of her personal tastes, you probably (if you're like me) have a flash of self-doubt. "It wasn't good enough; I must be terrible!" Then reason kicks in, and whacks you across the back of the head.

Knowing something isn't true doesn't stop you from feeling it in the first place.

This isn't limited to writing.

Relationships: He didn't want to go out.
Gut reaction: I'm awful and no one will ever date me.
Truth: He thinks I'm serious relationship material and he's not looking for commitment. There are other guys who are better for me.

Weight: I weigh more than the women on TV that everyone calls pretty. I weigh more than models.
Gut reaction: Oh dear goodness, I'm fat!
Truth: Fashion portrays women unrealistically (and unhealthily). I'm healthy as I am, and should remember that their body shape would be unhealthy in me. 

Interviews: I got an e-mail saying the position was filled.
Gut reaction: I messed up the interview; no one will ever hire me!
Truth: They already had someone else in mind/someone else was more qualified. I'll have another chance at the next interview.

Cooking: The rice burned.
Gut reaction: I'm a horrible cook and I'll never know how to make good rice!
Truth: I haven't made this brand of rice before and am still learning the best way to make it. Next time will be better.

Positive thinking is a powerful tool. Not only does it reinforce the positive, but it reminds us (by its existence) that everyone else feels doubt too. 

There are things that are our fault, actual problems that we can fix. If I'm five pounds over where I want to be, I can go on a diet and exercise more, and change it. If I burn the rice once, I can figure out why, and next time not burn it. When something really is a problem that we can fix, then we should.

But we can't control other people. And if we always spend every hour of our lives changing ourselves to please others, we'll never know who we are. Our gut reaction is to assume that something we can't (or shouldn't) change must be a sign that we suck. But the gut lies. It's okay to make mistakes.

When you feel bad because something didn't turn out as you hoped, remember that it's natural to have a negative gut reaction. But also remember that self-doubt doesn't control you. Call your gut on the lie. If it's something you can fix, then fix it. Otherwise, figure out what the truth is, give yourself a positive statement to negate the self-doubt, and move on.

What does your gut lie about? What's the truth? And what's something good about yourself?

1 comment:

  1. Ugh, but positive thinking is haaaard! I'm really trying to work on this. Thanks for the post to remind me.