Each year I look forward to celebrating my birthday. My Taoist teacher helped me expand my practice of honoring the day that I entered the world. He encourages us to use the energy of our birthday as a catalyst to move our personal development forward.
So many traditions honor the power of our birthday. Many African traditions say it marks the moment our spirit chose to come from the ancestral realm into the physical world. Astrologers talk about the Sun returning to the place it was at the moment you were born. Thus, the invisible energy surrounding our birthday is like a colossal power jetpack that we can use to accelerate progress on our personal vision.
This year in addition to my personal and business goals, I chose to focus on facing a personal challenge specifically, self-doubt. You know, those thoughts that make you wonder, “Can I really do this?” They seem to show up when you get moving on a project.
I call self-doubt the “Imposture Detective”. It’s reminds me of a skilled professional, like Sherlock Holmes or EZ Rawlings or Tamara Hayle, truly talented at collecting the necessary information to verify that I’m masquerading and can’t get the job done. I sometimes imagine that it’s dressed in a trench coat using a magnifying glass on my inadequacies.
Self-doubt can stop you right in your tracks. Instead of moving forward, you start thinking of all the reasons you should stop or why someone else would be better at it or how much better it would be if and when you had such and such or how it’s too late or that someone else is already doing that so why would anybody listen to what you have to say anyway.
The list of reasons why not to move on goals can be long and winding. It can serve to keep us stuck, idling or even backsliding. So it’s very easy to see self-doubt as the evil, sneaky enemy out to thwart our plans.
But how about we flip the script. Change up. Take a new look at self-doubt. Find the beauty in the beast. Or as the poem says, look for the silver tint in the clouds of doubt. That’s perfect balance.
When I decided to make this birthday year one where I explore my self-doubt, I said, “I don’t want to make it an enemy”. As the natural order would have it, we come pre-installed with our own security system. Doubt, fear, worry, or any emotion that gives us pause is like a little alarm or traffic sign pointing us to something that needs our attention. I made a commitment to pay attention.
I came up with these steps for turning self-doubt into the engine that propels me and puts wind under my wings rather than the one that grinds me to a halt. I hope these tips will help you too. If self-doubt isn’t your challenge, you can try it with fear or worry or sadness, or whatever seems to get you stuck.
Here’s what I committed to do:
Keep a diary of times when self-doubt shows up. Describe the circumstances surrounding the self-doubt. This includes describing the who, what, when, where and how.
I’m tracking thoughts, emotions, sensations, everything that’s a part of the situation where I feel self-doubt.
Identify why I’m feeling self-doubt. Be clear about what concerns me in each situation.
Review the situation and identify the sources of self-doubt. Is it related to external or internal resource needs?
Am I concerned about being overwhelmed, lack of financial or physical resources, or lack of skill to complete a particular task?
Look for the gift in each situation. Identify any opportunities to resolve an issue and move my goals forward.
Use the situation to help me define and secure needed resources. This could be people who can help or skills I need to develop.
Use the situation to help me define any issues that I need to address to move my goals forward, make a problem-solving plan, and implement my plan.
Consider how I can transform the situation into personal growth. Identify what my feelings of self-doubt in each situation can teach me about my strengths and character.
The plan allows me to clarify the issues and order the steps to resolve them. It helps me maintain balance by identifying and using resources wisely. I reap the harvest of reciprocity when I look for the gift in each challenge and I stay connected to the truth that I am enough.
The Yoruba sacred text Oshe Meji says that lack of faith or self-confidence is a tragedy. Why? Because it contradicts the sacrifices and investments we’ve made to overcome our difficulties and fulfill our purpose. However, putting these steps into action can help us transform our stop sign into a go sign.
© Sandra Y. Lewis