When Self-Doubt Comes Knocking
When self doubt comes knocking, as it inevitably will, you’ll likely invite it in and before you realize what you’ve done, it’ll take hold and leave you wondering why you even started writing in the first place. It is the unwelcome lackluster leech that saps the life out of us. It is the shroud the descends on the writers buried beneath concrete blocks, and the 2am insomnia battling existentialism.
This is one guest you’d do well to be ruthless with. It’s muse and close companion is comparison. Comparison cleverly disguises herself as reason and finds justification in failure; even the smallest kind.
So, while we glean what we can from other writers and sharpen our skills by “competing”; entering contests, submitting our work for publications, sharing on any platform we can; we should never do so at the expense of our self worth.
To fight off self doubt, arm yourself with the self assurance that comes with knowing why you write and rest in knowing that we are all at different places and stages in our writing. Silence the voices that pressure you to change your style or publish pieces that conform to the current styles being perceived as “good” by the masses. Trust your intuition and find your own personal voice and style. Dig deep to find the courage to withstand public opinion or lack thereof. And when you find that courage, nurture it and treasure it as it’ll lead through the constructive criticism you’ll need to hone your craft.
If you should fail, don’t fall into the trap that spirals downward into blackholes of self pity. Everyone fails at something. What matters most is that you don’t give up. Every mistake and perceived failure (as it’s not really failure at all) is an opportunity for growth. Learn from it, see it as a lesson instead, and adjust your sails accordingly. Chart your course, and when the storms come and you temporarily get blown off that course, pull the map out again and get back on track. They’re just detours; not paths to destruction. Trust your intuition; it is your compass and your guide and will never lead you on the wrong path.
When you get the rejection letter, the harsh comment, or the complete lack of any support, don’t give it more attention than it needs. If you get positive feedback, win the award, or get a lot of support, celebrate it. Be genuinely thankful and grateful for what you have and where you are; we too easily take these things for granted, and too easily give more attention to the negative than the positive.
Gravitate to people, places and things that feed your soul. Don’t dwell and thrive on the drama. Find your tribe and go to them when you need to. Don’t let your pride or ego prevent you from being transparent, open, honest and vulnerable about the things that you need help with. Just be wise who you share these things with. Much like throwing your pearls to swine, don’t put yourself in places or with people who will trample on you with muddied boots.
Even when the wisdom of logic and reason present themselves in burning bushes, your emotions may often prevail. Sometimes, they are not to be trusted. They are the fleeting, unreliable veils of illusion that can cloud the best judgement. If you’re standing in the whirlwind of emotions that defy reason, use your mantras. Find the ones that work for you; “you are loved”, “this is temporary”, “you are worthy”, “you are enough”, “God help me”; whatever works.
The next time self-doubt comes knocking, try not to let it in. It’s ok to give it the dead-to-me-door-slam. Instead, invite wisdom, knowledge, love and honesty to grow and thrive within you.