Well good morning and happy Sunday everyone. I don’t know about you, but today where I am it is a very white and snowy Sunday. (Which is not exactly what I would call a wonderful Sunday… it’s not what I would call a wonderful anything) Yes, the Groundhog saw his shadow, and thanks to that little bugger, Mother Nature thought it would be a great opportunity to insulate the world one more time with an abundance of the frigid white crap… thanks Groundhog! I used to think you were cute - but I take it all back… you are a MONSTER!!!
One thing you will notice about my blog will be that I wear my heart on my sleeve, or rather in my fingers, as they pound away on this keyboard unabashed and spewing every last emotion that is holed up inside me.
I want to talk about self doubt this week. I know that last week this was more or less the same topic, and how to learn to praise yourself (at this point, allow me to apologize for last week. I don’t know if it was cold meds, or just plain out of my mind, but even when I go back to read it, I find it hard to follow my own chain of thought) I will try to keep this week a little more structured and making a little more sense!
I have been feeling a lot of self doubt in my life and my writing lately. I am usually quite a cheerful person, and my own biggest cheerleader, but the past couple weeks, this has been far from reality. Call it pms, or the winter blues, I don’t know, but it sucks! I hate second guessing myself, my work, my progress, my life in general, and I am hoping that by getting it out in this kind of a forum, maybe I can clear it from my chest and move forward. So if you're ready… Here we go.
Self doubt sucks! No matter what aspect of your life you feel it, there is one plain fact… Self doubt sucks! Everyone has had to face it at one point or another, and some of us deal with it on a regular basis. It’s that little voice inside us that tells us that we are not good enough, or that we just don’t measure up. It is the voice that will continue to push us down, that will have you second guessing aspects of your life, or that assures you that you are going to fail. It’s that little pain in the ass that, unless you can learn to stop him in his tracks, can push you right off course with his relentless slander.
So how do you move past it? I don’t know! Oh wait, you thought I was going to enlighten you? Tell you what to do next when this jerk makes you feel like you just aren’t capable of doing anything? If I had that secret I wouldn’t be here venting about the son-of-a-monkey’s-uncle that sits on my shoulder, and who has made my brain his playground for the last few weeks.
Well that’s not all true. I do have some techniques to shut him up… even if it's only temporarily, to strap duct tape to his mouth, bind his arms and legs and toss him in the river. He doesn’t die easily though and each time he gets sneakier when he returns, but for today, allow me to impart my wisdom on you for what I typically do, to break the cycle.
As a writer, highs and lows are a huge part of the writing process. There are days where I close my laptop after a long day of writing and feel like I am on top of the world. I know in my heart of hearts that what I have just accomplished is ground breaking, it's ingenious, it's brilliant, and it was written so impeccably, I have no doubt that I am going to be the next JK Rowling (sorry, got carried away with that one… there’s no expectations ever to be the next JK Rowling - that woman is remarkable, and I truly don’t expect to hit that mark on my first novel) Then there are days where I barely squeeze out 700 words, and the entire time I am writing, I am telling myself it is only to put words on paper, but that this entire chapter will be re-written come edits because it is complete crap and there is no way in the world this book will ever be picked up by an agent. I am convinced it's only slightly better than the crap I wrote in high school when I thought I was some hot shot journalist (by the way, the journalism I have been published with back in my early years makes me blush and scamper to very dark corners each time I try to go back and re-read it. How they ever actually published that in an legitimate newspaper is beyond me) My point is, there will always be ups and downs, and with writing especially, your work is your baby.. It is your heart and soul on paper for the world to see. You are exposing yourself in ways that you would never imagine doing in any other aspect of your life, but pouring yourself into these pages, sure, it’s an expected roller-coaster of emotions. It’s when my personal life and my writing life both come at me at the same time with this ugly little jerk’s slanderous comments that I really find myself on the verge of running for the hills and giving up on everything because I am sure that he is right.
The past couple weeks have been exactly that. “You aren’t good enough, you don’t try hard enough, you are useless, you let people down, your a disappointment to yourself and everyone around you.”
Shut up shut up shut up!
I have learned a few tricks over the years to combat this voice, to move past it or at least silence it to fit in some of those compliments I am so good at giving myself. Let’s take a look at my brilliance, and if any of these help you, even just a little, to move past the self doubt you might be feeling, please send me a message or leave me a comment below.
1. Embrace the doubt - “but wait, didn’t you just say it was evil and needed to be silenced?” Yes I did, however … Sometimes your self doubt comes from a place not of evil, but it is a form of self awareness. If you are feeling that screaming anxiety of doubt, sometimes it’s your subconscious trying to tell you something. Much like last week’s post, I hated it, I got down on myself, I didn’t even really proof read it because I had no use for it, I just wanted to delete it. Upon reading it a week later, I completely understand why. It was my subconscious telling me it was a hot mess! Is your doubt trying to smack you in the face with an obvious mistake you have made, or something you have clearly not considered or not done, or done when you shouldn’t have?
2. Step back, and look at the big picture. Sometimes you are too wrapped up in what you are doing to actually see what you may have done wrong, or why your doubt is settling on you. If you are so busy in your day to day, and you don’t take the time to pull back to see that you are you so concerned about word count, you didn’t notice that your story just took a hard left into a direction it didn’t mean to go… have you been so intent on pushing a new product at work that you didn’t realize you had let your biggest seller fall on the back burner, when your biggest seller is the highest profit item - wasted opportunity. Taking a step back to see the bigger picture, even if you only spend 20 or 30 minutes to consider it, you may see why your self doubt has been screaming at you.
3. Look for inspiration. Look for a way to combat the negative with a new positive. Look for something to spark something new inside you. Hobbies are great for this. If you love scrapbooking, take time, pull out your materials and tools, and unwind letting your creative juices flow. If you are training for a marathon, hit a pool and swim laps to hit a new muscle group. If you are training lions, maybe bring in a high cardboard box and let the fur ball tear it apart! Let creativity and inspiration try to surge you forward.
4. Make a celebration/ gratitude list. This is one of the things one of my go-to book tuber's big on. Write a list of all the amazing things you have accomplished today, this week, this month, this year. Make a list of all the great things you should be celebrating about yourself. If you start to focus on positive things, the negativity will have nowhere in your mind to hide.
5. Do something that makes you feel good. Mine is having a bubble bath. I will find myself pacing the house, I will try to get comfortable in the living room, then the kitchen, trying to find the energy to clean, then sitting at my desk, staring at a blank screen repeatedly typing one word, then deleting. The - delete. Victoria - delete. Then she - delete. It was - delete. She woke - delete. You get the picture. I end up running a hot bath, curling up with a book and ignoring the rest of the world. If running is that escape, go run. If napping is a feel good, have a nap. If cooking or shopping, or sitting in a book store, or laying in a tanning bed, or watching a movie is your feel good thing, go do it!
7. Sometimes the voice really is just pure evil trying to distract you and make you feel like you are two inches tall.. If this is the case, you need to extinguish it. Start by identifying it. If you are like me, you may have a million thoughts in your head at any given time. Identify what the voice sounds like, what it says, where you hear it, when you hear it. Recognize that voice as self doubt and not truth or actual thoughts. That voice is one of negativity, not of driving you forward, or improving where you are… Question it. Dig deeper into what it is trying to convince you of. “Am I really not good enough? Am I really useless? Who is actually disappointed in me?” Remember that anything that is limiting or negative is not your true self. I will say that one again because I really want it to sink in.
ANYTHING THAT IS LIMITING OR NEGATIVE IS NOT YOUR TRUE SELF.
Do not embrace these thoughts, do not let them get a foothold, because they are not true thoughts. Thoughts and emotions are habits. Therefore, the more you allow them to repeat in your mind, the more habitual they will become. Your brain will automatically go to that place because it is the habit. If you create a new habitual loop (that being the process your brain goes through when in a situation) you can train your brain to trigger an empowering thought as soon as a negative one rears its head. So if your doubt says “your not good enough” you instantly put that to bed and think “I am better than enough. I am so much more than enough” If your doubt triggers fear “oh my goodness, I can’t do this” you counter it with “I have so many options open to me, it doesn’t matter which direction I go, I will succeed!”
I can’t promise that all of these are easy, or that they will magically make that doubt disappear, but I can tell you that it's a passing phase. If you find a way to push through, you will come out the other end. I sat at my computer last night, angry, pissy, hungry, fed up and ready to throw in the towel, but I spent some time outlining today’s post, then went to bed early. I woke up this morning feeling slightly better. I was productive this morning hitting the grocery store as they opened and making my day available to make progress on my book, get this blog post up, relax and sleep if necessary… whatever I wanted to. With a little bit of faith, I think this next week is going to turn back around. It would be great to be out of this funk and making huge progress on my book, and maybe, just maybe, feeling confident in myself again.