Several weeks ago, I sent an e-letter that talked about not giving up. Ralph Dopping happened to read it, and he replied to it with a question: “How do you battle self-doubt?” I thought and thought about the question, then I sent a reply to Ralph. I also asked him if a follow-up blog post might be warranted. He didn’t seem to mind either way, so, here I am, writing a blog post about how to battle self-doubt.
In my own life, self-doubt is a cruel master. Give it an inch, and it will take a yard – no, an entire football field. Yes. Give self-doubt an inch, and it will take an entire football field. I know this fact. Because I know it, I remain in preparation for war against self-doubt. I never know when I might have to fight, so I have to be vigilant at all times. I have to keep guards around my mind and heart so that it cannot gain entrance.
If it does gain entrance, an all-out battle ensues. It’s one I sometimes win. It’s also one I sometimes lose. As I said, self-doubt is a cruel master, and it has many battalions with which to wage war: discouragement, negativity, frustration, depression. It uses those battalions against me. The enemy knows my weaknesses and strikes when and where I am most vulnerable. Its aim usually is true; in fact, if I’m tired, it is more than likely to hit the mark dead-on. When that happens, I limp off the battlefield, find a hiding spot, and prepare for the next day and the next day and the next day. I may be hurt, but I am not defeated.
How, then, do I battle self-doubt? It typically starts with honing my focus. I figure out the one thing I can do, and I go after it. Self-doubt and its minions may chase me the entire way, but I stay on task. I do not look to the right or to the left. My safety is found in reaching the high ground, even if it’s a high ground of a mere six inches. The height doesn’t matter; what matters is that I made it. This is not the time to focus on how high I jumped or how far I ran. The focus has to be on what I did accomplish, no matter how small.
That accomplishment doesn’t mean it’s time to face self-doubt head-on; far from it. I know I will not win that battle. I instead focus on the one thing I can do, and I do that for however many days I need. One day, I stop to examine where I am and realize something: self-doubt and despair and depression are far below me, mere specks. I see that they are on the move, though, and understand this moment of unadulterated freedom won’t last. I have to keep moving because the enemy is on a constant prowl.
That’s one of the ways I battle self-doubt. How do you battle it?
Image: rbbaird (CC BY NC 2.0)