Saturday, January 8, 2011

Self Doubt

Self doubt is an insidious creature which rears its ugly head from time to time to tell us lies about ourselves. I'm a big believer in looking honestly at myself and making changes where they are required, but that is an entirely different process from doubting myself and my beliefs.

When people in our circles have strong opinions about something, it's hard to go against them. Many of my spiritual and social ideologies have changed radically in the last few years, and communicating those changes without inciting rage becomes a minefield, where bombs can explode violently in my face at any given time. I have come to accept that this is part of the kind of writing I want to do. Sometimes I am confident in this decision. Other times, I doubt myself.

Good friends are helpful here, as they have helped me find my footing when I felt the ground shift beneath my feet. When I am unsure, often my friends are sure for me, and they shine a flashlight on enough truth to get me out of my dark space and back onto the road I'm traveling. I'm beyond grateful for these friends, who have offered me a hand to pull me from quicksand on more than one occasion.

When we doubt ourselves, it's always helpful to look critically at the issue facing us. If we have enough personal fortitude, we can manage some differences of opinion and not collapse under the strain. There is a tremendous amount of freedom in the revelation that not everyone has to think like I do. I used to surround myself with people who resembled me in thoughts and actions, but breaking away from that to expose myself to other ways of being in the world has broadened my horizons and made me more tolerant of others.

Turning back because I am afraid of what others might think doesn't work for me anymore. Many of my decisions used to be based on this criteria, and in the end it is extremely unsatisfying. I must proceed in what I wish to do with my life, while considering the feelings of others to the best of my ability, but not making fear my driving motivator.

People pleasing only takes you so far, and then you drop, with a painful thud, to the ground. It is hard to make any kind of lasting impact on anyone if you are pleasing other people ahead of yourself when you express your ideas. I believe this concept wholeheartedly, and must forge ahead, even when I feel or perceive resistance from others. If we back down in one area, we'll back down in a lot of areas, and I wasted a lot of years living that way.

It's not wrong to stand up for ourselves. I have worked hard to be able to access and own my identity, and I must stay true to who I am and what I have to say. I do not expect everyone to agree with me, and I respect the opinions of others, provided they respect mine. We are all in this life together, and I would prefer to be encouraged instead of instructed. When self doubt comes to me again, I hope the skills I've learned during this time will help me recognize and defeat my people pleasing tendencies. Old habits die hard, but I'm a new person now.

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