I have it; you have it; she has it; he has it. We all have it. Though it may sound like a conjugation exercise, one cannot deny we all have doubted ourselves at one time or the other. Perhaps, much more frequently than we’d like to acknowledge.
Self doubt, undoubtedly, is like a frenemy. A necessary evil. I have experienced terrible self doubt. Situations where I was supposed to go right, I went left. Because I was plagued by self doubt. I now realise that even that turn was a lesson in life. A lot of people want to completely eradicate self doubt. Punch it down to a pulp and stuff it in coffin and cremate it. Sounds a bit too extreme? Not really. Because most of these people are the ones who’ve had to face the challenges and consequences of doubting themselves. Even a child waiting for a ride at the amusement park would wonder if they are of permissible height/weight to get on to a particular ride. We are programmed to be cautious. It is an extreme case of this preprogrammed behaviour that, I think, becomes self doubt.
My personal experience has been going from one extreme to another. Take this blog for example. I started it and I had one person who read my first post. Then word got around amongst our college group, and my friends began reading. Later colleagues and people from across the world read my blog. And it doesn’t matter, I still have the same doubt I had when I wrote my first post. Is this good enough? Am I writing anything sensible? What if people hate it? The same thing happens in all facets of life. What if these shoes hurt my feet? Does this dress make me look lumpy? Bah! So many questions. And I had to deal with it all in my only brain. So much congestion! I finally decided I’ve had enough of this and decided to tackle it my own way.
I realise what I am writing may not reason with you, but read on anyway. If you have anything to add I am all ears. You see, every time I felt a tiny bit of self doubt, I gave it a certain amount of attention. Letting it fester on the other hand was dangerous. When I paid attention to that niggling thought, it became a sort of prudence. I realised I was thinking twice about pros and cons. I was thinking twice about shopping and clicking the checkout button. I was not stopping myself from doing anything though. If I let that thought fester then that would have stopped me. Instead the moment I felt that self doubt was growing, I dealt with it as the cartoons do – I hit it with a hammer on its head until it crumbled.
Now I know it is not possible for anyone to just squash their self doubt and completely stop doubting themselves. That is impossible to begin with. What helped me was Mel Robbins rule – The Five Second Rule. (Blog, Ted Talk –TL;DR after the 18th minute.)The principle is that if you want to do something and had the thought, then you do it within the next five seconds. The Mel Robbins principle is helpful in many ways. I have found it most useful dealing with psychologial and emotional stress. I decide to give the problem and the stress five seconds of my life. That is it. After that time, I begin working towards a solution. May be I shall write another post on that sometime later.
What made me write this post? There was a situation recently, which made me doubt myself like I haven’t in recent times. I wondered if I was slipping back into the darker days, and promptly squashed that thought. I gave myself five seconds to think it over and then began to note down pros and cons. I made a decision and stuck to it. Either it will turn out good or it won’t. What matters is that I did not ignore the situation and let an opportunity to act pass by. I acted. Many a time I have come across someone telling me a phrase that we have all used or heard – “I don’t know if this will work for me”. It may be something that they were about to try or a job they interviewed for, or even an exercise routine. No one knows the answer to that until they try it. What stops them from doing it is that niggling doubt of oneself.
I share this post with the world in the hope that you too shall be able to overcome this pestilence within us. We are capable of amazing things, and no one is stopping us more than we do ourselves.
Go forth and squash that self doubt.