A Conversation with Self-Doubt


Yesterday at the beach I posted this photo on Instagram and wrote this:
That moment when self-doubt swoops in and tries to shrink/cancel/derail my plans. Over the years I've gotten better at meeting it - offering compassion without giving it the driver's seat. Right now I'm really struggling though. Today I'm at the beach just being with it. Sorting out what needs to be forgiven and what needs to be let go of and what can teach me something useful to help me move forward. Being out of my comfort zone like this has always served to move me closer to what I want and yet I still resist the discomfort of it.
I got home from the beach with more clarity about everything. But still feeling a lot of doubt.

So I sat down to talk to my doubt.  (When I write these conversations out I put my doubt's words in italics)

So, hey there doubt.  I've been dancing around this for a while, hoping I could self-care and deep-breath my way towards not having to face you directly.

It's not working.

So here I am.


(Doubt shows up as a huge goblin with a big, weird tail.)

Are you supposed to have a tail?

Is that what's important right now?

I don't know.

(Doubt swishes his tail.)

So, I want to find a way to work with you.  You're kind of blocking me from where I want to be.

Yeah. That's intentional.

Is it intentional that you're making me feel like shit in the process?

No. I want you to feel calm.


Calm. Happy. Doing your thing.

You want me to do my thing? You're stopping me from doing my thing!

No your thing is to keep doing what you've been doing. What you're trying to do is something new.


(burst of clarity)

No I can't do that anymore. It's actually not my thing anymore. I've grown.  I need my thing to grow along with me.

But. Ugh. The way you're doing it.  You're experimenting. You're exploring and trying things.  It's messy.  You know how certainty feels so much better.

Well you know that certainty and growth don't play nice together.  And how can I be certain of anything new? No! Now is definitely time to be open-minded and experimental and to let it get messy.

You're not strong enough for that.

(Wait, no that didn't come from the goblin. Now there's a turtle in the conversation.  A turtle with a strong opinion.)

You're not strong enough for this next part. You're not ready.

When am I ever ready?  I get ready in the doing.

Wow I love how sure I am of myself when talking to the goblin and the turtle.

I'm not that sure when I'm just sitting quietly alone.

This is one of the (many!) benefits of taking the time to sit down and communicate with my feelings.  It puts my wisest/strongest self into the driver's seat - the me who chooses to face her fear.

Noticing how the me who is talking to my doubt right now is different from the me who has been showing up to work lately, I can see that it's like I've been wearing a coat of doubt.

So I take it off.

Yeah it's ok to be scared. It's ok to doubt myself. It's ok to be unsure - it's probably inevitable to be unsure when forging ahead on new paths.  I mean the unknown is unknown.

But I don't have to snuggle up to my doubt and invite it to stay.  Which is kind of what I've been doing lately.

There is something so familiar in it and when I'm out of my comfort zone a part of me will grab onto anything unfamiliar.

And now the goblin of self-doubt is smaller than the head of a pin.

The turtle has wandered off somewhere.

And here I am with my project that feels still too big.

But now I feel willing to stretch into it.  I feel ok being uncomfortable as I do this and committed to remembering how exciting and awesome it is too.

OK getting to work now...

PS: You can read more conversations with doubt/fear/etc in the Tiny Fairy Tales section of my blog.  These conversations are based on my work in the Un-Sticking Station in the Creative Dream Circle (if you're a member get in there and try it, it's right here).