The epidemic of self-doubt
What a powerful reflex self-doubt is:
- An exciting possibility comes to mind; self-doubt injects a shot of fear about all the ways it could go bad
- Sally receives a lot of great feedback after a class at a community center. She is asked to teach a series. Then, self-doubt starts peppering her with “yes, but” or “if they only knew . . . ”
- An unexpected check arrives and brightens the day; self-doubt steps up like a scolding teacher and points to the upcoming bills that are coming due
- Robert has a good conversation with a friend; he comes into his spiritual direction session focusing on why these conversations are so few and far between
Self-doubt is sponsored by the survival part of our brain, that ancient limbic part whose job is to make sure we are aware that there could be a tiger behind the bush. It is well intended and over-zealous; like that excited grade school classmate whose hand always shot up before the teacher finished asking her question. Self-doubt always forgets that the real tigers are few and far between, and that we will know what to do when a real one shows up.
When working with a client who is struggling with self-doubt, it doesn’t work to simply help them banish the thought. To do so only makes the doubt feel even more ominous and threatening. Like the over-zealous child, self-doubt needs appreciation and clear reminders. We appreciate that it is looking out for us, and we remind it to make space for other voices, other truths.
As a human species we are transitioning from a consciousness oriented around self-doubt and fear to one grounded in self-love, personal vitality and possibility. As we help clients quiet their self-doubter, we help them make space for their confident, brilliant, generous selves. What a trade off! And this shift not only serves them but those around them, for as Marianne Williamson says,
. . . as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.