The truth is I'm convinced self-doubt never disappears. Never. I've never admitted this in public but before every presentation I do, I'm filled with an extreme amount of self-doubt. I constantly repeat to myself "Past performance does not indicate future success".
I think... what if this is the one presentation that I tank? What if I do something that messes up my relationship with the host? What if I embarrass myself?
When I work on new projects, I think, what if I'm biting off more than I can chew? Maybe I shouldn't try to rock the boat. Maybe I should stick with what I know. Maybe I'm not suppose to have what other people have? Maybe I'm really not good enough or not a good person.
What if the truth is on the outside everything looks good but on the inside, I'm a mess. I'm scared to feel so insecure. What if I'm not good enough?
I constantly battle with these thoughts. What if I don't get any speaking engagements in the future? Will I be able to provide for my family? Why is it that this host said they loved my presentation but didn't want to rebook me? What if I share my inner thoughts with people and find out the "real me" and hate me and I'm rejected? What if I don't really have what it takes to make it, I've just been lucky? What if today is the day my luck runs out?
I struggle with this constantly. All the time.
I'm confident it will never go away. I'm confident it never goes away... for anyone.
I now believe that these thoughts can live in my head. I don't fight them. I let them be and still move forward any way. What other option do I have, what does quitting really look like? I really don't know. I mean what else could I do with my life?
The truth is, all of the people you look at who seem to have it all under control. Don't. All I believe they do that is admired is that they act in spite of their fear. That is something we all have access to.
Today was a tough emotional day for me. I mentally beat myself. I let myself cycle through the emotions and thoughts fully. I am no longer wanting to hold onto any remnants of self-loathing. The one thing I want to promise myself is not that I will stop my negative thoughts, but I will act in spite of my negative thoughts.
Discovering that I don't have to believe my own thoughts was one of the most empowering ideas of my adult life. I learned it from the book "The Power of Now" and later found it backed my research on how the mind works (id, ego, super ego) and later had it cemented by my belief system.
Knowing being scared to death of doing something does not mean you can't do it meant everything for how my mind works in particular. Thinking I am insignificant but still can take significant actions is a cornerstone of how I want to be remembered. The truth is, I do think very poorly of myself at times. VERY poorly. I question if I'm a good person. Those are my thoughts. Often my thoughts cause my actions to follow suit. That's life. My goal is to do my best to make my actions align with positive forward momentum regardless of whether I think positively or negatively.
I can't control if I will be successful, I can't control if I will fail. I just can control my actions. My outcomes are out of my control. That's where faith kicks in.
In my religion, (I'm Jewish if you are curious), I was taught about something called Yetzer hara or "the evil inclination". It's the part that lives in us. That never goes away. It's the part that says "Don't workout today." "Everyone wants something from you but no one wants to give to you." "I hate people" "I want to steal" and so on and so forth. The Yetzer hara is the part of you that controls your negative thoughts. It's not a demon controlling you per say, but more our misuse of things that are supposed to help. For example, self-preservation is a good thing. Feeling like you have to sabotage someone else so you can succeed is a misuse of self-preservation. (I'm confident this idea is prevalent in other belief systems as well.)
Once I realized that this evil inclination was part of me, that no matter what I did it was in me. That getting rid of this part of me was impossible, but learning to not believe it was possible changed everything. I have to constantly remind myself when I think a negative thought about myself, or when I question if I should try something I know I should, I just say to myself "That's the Yetzer hara, I choose not to believe you."
I at first envision in my head that this evil inclination is a muscle bound, tattooed, killer that is barking at me and yelling at me. I was totally scared of it. But then when I stood up to it for the first time, I envisioned this killer becoming skinnier and less strong. I envisioned eventually it becoming a withering dying, pathetic man living in my head, with nothing of significance, lying on the floor, scraping at my shoes telling me I'm a loser. I can see him, I can hear him.
Sometimes I believe him. But I look at this person in my head with pity. As if they were a loser who chose bad decisions and won't ever change and wants to take it out on me. It's like knowing your master really has no power. I just pat him on the shoulder in my mind and say "watch me try anyway."
When I fail (which happens a lot) this voice says to me, "See, I told you you were stupid". I look at him, in my head, and say, at least I tried. At least I can say I tried. I'd rather be the type of person who tried and failed.
Most people don't try for their "big thing" because they don't want to look stupid. But not trying is the ultimate stupid. It's slower, less obvious and not as pervasive as the sharp pain of failure but it's way worse. It's the worst kind of mental cancer.