There are times when I am plagued with self-doubt. This seems to manifest when I waver in decision making. Or, when I lack trust that I intuitively know what to do in a situation. Sometimes, I trust people who are untrustworthy. My self-doubt comes through and I of course, begin to doubt myself. I second guess. I have a gut reaction and then I think, wait, maybe not. Like when I was back in school and I had to take a test. I would decide on an answer, and then I’d change it. And then the right answer was the one I had in the first place! Self-doubt has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember.
The path to trusting myself has not been an easy one. It has resulted in my getting involved with the wrong kinds of people. Both romantic and non-romantic relationships ended badly. They were not trustworthy. They ultimately weren’t good to me. Even though I knew better, the specter of self-doubt raised its ugly head. It seduced me to believe otherwise. And as a result, nor was I good to them. So when it all went down, I ended up feeling even worse about myself. And then the cycle continued until I was able to break free from self-doubt.
Self-doubt plagued me because I had always been outer focused. I had sought approval outside myself. It never seemed to come from within. Thus, each time I didn’t listen to my inner knowing, it compromised my integrity. That voice deep within got quieter and quieter. And finally, I was afraid of being judged for my own decisions. I would take the advice of others and then blame them when things didn’t turn out the way I had hoped they would. Until I started taking responsibility for my own decisions, I could not make good ones.
There’s a story that best describes how we don’t listen to the inner voice of our own intuitive knowledge. It’s the story about the rattle snake who met a traveler in the woods. The snake asked the traveler, “Please pick me up and take me to the river.”
The traveler hesitated. He said, “But you’re a rattle snake and of I pick you up, you may bite me and I would die.”
The snake insisted, “I wouldn’t bite you. That would be crazy. If you died, I wouldn’t have a way to get to the river. Why would I do that?”
The traveler wasn’t sure what to do. Against his better judgment, he picked up the snake and they walked along through the woods. All went well for a time, but then the snake found an open spot on the traveler’s arm, and sank his fangs into it.
The traveler cried out, “Snake! You said you wouldn’t bite me and now I’m going to die and you won’t make it to the river! Why did you bite me?“
The snake answered, “I bit you, because rattle snakes bite. And you knew that when you picked me up.”
How did I learn to stop picking up rattle snakes?
Overcoming self-doubt was NOT easy. But it was so important to do so. Otherwise, I don’t know that I would have ever been able to:
- Stay in a long-lasting relationship
- Make and stick with any important decisions
- Move forward in my life without doubt and regret
Here were the steps I took to overcome self-doubt:
1. I started to keep a journal. It is said that when we journal daily, our subconscious has time to develop what we are really feeling. If we wait six months and then go back and read what we wrote, we see that we intuitively knew what was coming down the pike.
2. I took action. Despite my doubt that I was going in the wrong direction. Like a boat on the sea, I knew I had to chart the course, and then set out. It is said that boats are safe in harbors, but that’s not what boats are built to do. They are built to sail. People are also built to sail. The confidence to continue to act, followed the taking of the initial action. The good feelings followed taking action.
3. From experience, I was able to trust the Universe. I had to act on the information I had at the time. Then I had to trust that when I needed new information, it would be given to me, right on time.
And what’s the goal of overcoming self-doubt?
We find out how big God really is. That God was there all along, waiting for us to trust that truth. When I was able to sit still and listen to the ‘still small voice’ – my inner truth emerged. The etymology of the “still small voice” comes from the story of the story of Elijah on a mountain in I Kings 19. To paraphrase, it says, ‘God was not in the earthquake, in the wind or in the fire. God was in the still small voice within Elijah.’ We won’t find the answers by searching the noise in the world. We cannot find our truth outside ourselves. We must do the footwork to access that voice.
Are you willing to do that footwork? Let me know if you’ve ever had this experience of trusting your inner guidance. Or, conversely, let me know if you’re still having trouble trusting your voice. I can write more in subsequent blogs about this topic as well.