Self-doubt. Doubting you, who you are, where you’re going and how the person that you see in the mirror is going to fare today, tomorrow and 20 years from now. I believe self-doubt lives in the past and in the future. What I mean by this is, that self-doubt arises when we relive our past mistakes and struggles in the present and when we project those faults on the new person we are in the present. Because the present is being lived and experienced right now, it can be whatever we choose. That struggle, that heartache, that insurmountable pain, can only disable us in our present selves when we allow it to; when we choose to see that struggle as a fault within our present self rather than a bridge that we have crossed, a hill that we have climbed, that has brought us into a new space of enlightenment. That struggle, that heartache, that insurmountable pain has not broken you. As long as there is breath in your lungs and a beat in your heart you are making it.
Self-doubt lives in the future only because of present unpredictability. Self-doubt is essentially a fear of the unknown, and more specifically it is a fear of ourselves; of our own potential, of our dreams and their own probability of manifestation. It is imagining the plot of our lives as it stretches from the ocean of our present into the hundreds of different rivers and streams that represent our unknown future.
Doesn’t self-doubt, in some strange, sick way, feel comfortable when we compare it to the unknown? Is there not a certain air of familiarity in our own self-hatred at times? If we are to consciously remain in the familiar company of fear and self-loathing, it would seem much safer to embrace these emotions rather than to replace or change or let go of it for something foreign to us.
“Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence”
-Simon and Garfunkel “Sound of Silence”
In this course of thinking, familiarity can be our undoing. Sitting idle and unchanging leads to an atrophy of our entire being that is completely opposite to our purpose. We are all, each and every one of us, made to grow and change, to mature into something greater than our previous selves; cell regeneration, the aging process, these are not things that makes us less than, or that deteriorate our being, they are things that change us for the good, they keep us forever moving forward. Success in itself, apart from failure is its own task that requires new ways of seeing, doing, thinking and believing. What we must do then is make the unfamiliar, familiar. In the same way that an athlete trains their body to improve performance, they must become comfortable with these new and often times uncomfortable exercises in order to strengthen different parts of their overall performance. Long-distance runners in the olympics often throw themselves across the finish-line and are out of breath for long moments afterwards, but they have become familiar with this uncomfortable feeling as they know that it is a product of change, of action taken on their own account.
Failure, self-loathing and self-doubt are all uncomfortable feelings, but we must realize that we have made them familiar to us and therefore they hold an air of comfort. Success as I said before is uncomfortable as well, it brings on new responsibility and requires you to work on the new level you have achieved. We must make this our new familiar, we must find comfort in fear and be able to use it as something to further our growth.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” —Marianne Williamson, Author/Lecturer