Who Do You Want To Be?


This week I’ve been struggling with doubt.   Self-doubt.  I was sitting in a meeting a few days ago and I wondered, “am I really contributing here?”  “Am I the right person with the right skills to help?   There is so much this organization needs and I feel so inadequate to help it move forward.  Am I the right person?   Should I step aside so someone else more qualified can take on this role?”

As I was mulling over these thoughts, I developed an intense case of heart burn.  My solar plexus felt like a giant hand had reached in, gripped my core, and was squeezing with superhuman strength.  I jerked my head up and re-engaged in the external conversation, trying to keep from slipping back down into the morass of doubt.  I suffered with heartburn for the rest of the night as I tried to focus on dinner and the evening activities.

I wrote two different articles for Thriving Thursday and realized one was full of facts with no heart and the other was fluffy and lacking any sort of depth.  Self-doubt crept back into my mind.  It’s fascinating in a rather sad way that the language and feelings of self-doubt are different from the chiding challenges of my Inner Critics.

Self-doubt feels heavy, sluggish, and at times physically painful.  The chatter from my Inner Critics feels like the staccato of a tiny drill in my head.  I have an image of little construction workers in orange vests and yellow helmets operating miniscule drills breaking up my thoughts and shattering my intentions.

How does one confront self-doubt?  It is easy for me to be swept away in the tsunami of emotions of uncertainty, and dangerously close to the cliff of self-loathing.  I manage to claw my way back to a mid-point where I can begin to sort out my thoughts and emotions.  To explore what has triggered the lack of confidence, the insecurity, and the attendant physical manifestations.

What do I do?  First, I examine it.  What is happening?  What are my thoughts?  Where am/was I?  What is/was going on?   Then I follow the threads back to the trigger, the event or thought that started the avalanche of insecurity and self-doubt.

Sometimes, it helps just to locate the trigger.  Then I can say with confidence, “oh yes, I recognize this.  This is old stuff, attached to…….”   Most of the time, when I identify the trigger, that is sufficient to shift my emotions, thoughts and thereafter my physicality.

There are other times when I can’t quite place my finger on why my self-doubt is so strong and feels like heavy smoke from a forest fire, sharp, biting, and ultimately smothering.  It is during these episodes that I’ve learned to turn to self-compassion.

My regular practice of mindfulness doesn’t automatically shift heavy doses of self-doubt and insecurity to deliver compassion.  There are times when I am in a deep struggle beneath the façade of a well-composed public face.  Typically, only my husband notices the difference.

During these times, ‘the loving kindness meditation’ is what helps to shift my struggle and deep discomfort.   I focus on my breathing while intoning these words: “May I be healthy.  May I be happy.  May I be loved.  May I live a life of ease.”   It might sound sappy, and a tad selfish to wish a life of ease for oneself.

However, words are how we organize our world and how we communicate our experience to ourselves and others.  Words, combined with conscious breathing and a deep desire to escape the morass of self-doubt and shame, help me to create the shift to peace.

May you be healthy.  May you be happy.  May you be loved.  May you live a life of ease.