The Easy Place

The Quest for Self Awareness One Moment at a Time

Self Doubt

I’m helping a friend with a project and we just finished a session on the phone. After hanging up I noticed a little thread of worry creep through my thoughts.  Was I helpful?  Were my ideas useful?  Normally I don’t pay much attention to those nasty little whispers in my head – they just do their damage, take a nibble out of my self-esteem, and eventually fade.  This time I stopped and turned my attention to that little voice. 

As I thought about it I realized that the bottom line was I’d done my best and could do no more.  Sure it was important to me to help my friend, but that niggle of self-doubt served no purpose, it only depleted my confidence.

It reminds me of when I used to go Christmas shopping with my brother.  He would put a lot of energy into picking the “right” gifts, making sure the dollar amount was equal for everyone, agonizing over his choices.  My advice was simple – get something you can afford that you think the recipient will like, and move on.  Doing his best was all that was necessary – whether or not people valued his effort was ultimately up to them.

That nasty little residue of self-doubt that follows many of us around is more destructive than it seems.  The desire to provide my friend with brilliant insights or my brother’s wish to give the perfect gift are thinly disguised manifestations of our desire for the approval of others.  It contains a built-in assumption that we’re somehow inferior, that our best won’t be good enough. 

Eventually my brother became comfortable with Christmas shopping and what had been several hours of angst became a simple shopping trip.  And I’ve been able to stay connected to the fact that my friend is merely looking for my ideas and input, and no more, when he asks for my help.

In The Illusion of Control I write about trust, trusting others and ourselves.  I think that’s what’s needed here, too.   We need to trust that our input, gifts, ideas, are good enough.  We need to trust that others will value what we’re able to give.

And if they don’t, if our best isn’t good enough, well, that really isn’t our problem, is it?

***

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7 responses to “Self Doubt

  1. Dawnika July 13, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Beautiful. Thanks.

  2. Jenny July 14, 2010 at 5:57 am

    I appreciate this wisdom! I can see how Self-doubt takes the joy away from the treasure of a relationship and changes the focus from “us” to “me”. When that happens the walls of self consciousness start going up, disconnecting the exchange. Very helpful teaching!

  3. shorter university atlanta July 15, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. I think the only answer is to believe in ourselves. We can’t deny the fact that we are inferior to some people but we are superior to others too. Never loose confidence in yourself but still learn to listen and open your mind and heart to lifetime learning. Life only guarantees one thing and that is change. The situation might change but our confidence will remain still.

  4. Melinda July 16, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Thanks so much for your comments!

    Melinda

  5. Farouk July 24, 2010 at 12:00 am

    that’s so true Melinda, i like the way you analyzed things and connected them together, thank you :)

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