When I write a blog it is often unplanned, which may be obvious from my poor punctuation and sloppy structure. But today is different. This blog I titled on Tuesday and then wrote in a free flowing barrage at midnight last night. It is still sloppy and the punctuation is still poor, but at least I tried to plan it! This is a long one though. I think I wrote non-stop for about an hour, scribbling away with my Lamy fountain pen. I was definitely in a flow start writing the below. So if it doesn’t make sense then I am not surprised! Just take your time and maybe read it over a few sittings.
That thing called doubt
Self doubt is something we can all relate to. If you can’t then there is something “different” about you and you’re an outlier, congratulations! This can be taken as a good or a bad thing, but I’d wager that you are not in the normal range. If this is you please can you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your secret.
Hopefully you are more like me and experience self doubt on the regular. I believe it is pretty normal to question our purpose, our actions and who we are becoming. What is interesting to me is how that impacts our lives through the choices we make, the people we fraternise with and the actions we take or more interestingly don’t take.
If I look at my own life for a moment I can see my self doubt in a variety of things. From the many jobs I’ve had to my education and especially within my writing practice. What I have come to learn from this (after years of experience getting it wrong) is that self doubt can be a motivator for change, a driver of your life. But not necessarily in the negative way you might be thinking right now.
I concur with your belief in the negative impact it can have because I have experienced that with my writing. For years I wrote poetry and journaled about my darkest thoughts in a bid to rid myself of the limiting mind creations. After moving to Australia and experiencing a particularly shit episode of depression I started posting these thoughts and feelings online for all to see. I thought “fuck it, I’ll get this out there and see what happens.” I was able to speak to no-one yet address everyone in the same moment. Knowing that the world could read it strangely helped me. It was my feeble attempt at sharing my hidden side, my other face. In a way it was a blood letting of sorts without the physical harm.
I quickly saw feedback from others and this strengthened my resolve against my self doubt. It showed my weak mind that writing mattered. Little by little this helped me to express myself more and it became my regular sounding board for my thoughts.
It wasn’t always plain sailing though. At times it was one step forward and a drunken collapse backward. But the experience was one I learnt from, it showed me what worked and what didn’t. I found out who I could talk to and who to avoid. Above all else it proved to me, to my misbehaving mind that through action I was able to take back control of my brain. Over the last two years I have been able to use meditation and creativity to reduce my dark thoughts, lessen the doubt and become calmer.
Shit, it wasn't easy though. When I broke down during a particularly low period two years ago I had hit rock bottom. I’d been there before but this was different. I sat in the shower mentally exhausted as the water poured over my head. I told myself out loud that I had had enough and made a promise to reach a place where I was calm and content. That became my driving force, my faraway goal to reach for. In the end all of the positives came from self doubt.
My life has been about showing that I could always achieve a thought, be that to run a marathon or become a personal trainer. It was proving the self doubt wrong that drove me forward. The big lesson was one I only recently came to learn though. The path to take was and still is the one that competed against my self doubt, the hard path. If my mind said “you won’t be any good at that job” then that became my focus. If I had doubts about my writing and my mind said “this is shit mate, nobody will read this nonsense!” Then that became the path, to publish more and more. Improve and refine, again and again. It wasn’t until this year when I read a book called The Obstacle is the Way that it all started to make sense. I was doing what I was meant to and I just needed to continue on that pathway.
These last two weeks have been a particularly satisfying turning point for me with self doubt. I have finally published my website after procrastination and perfectionism had prevented me from getting anywhere for years. After producing my podcast over the last three months it has shown me how little my brain knows. My self doubt is a child stuck in the past that relies on the unseen and unknown in order to thrive. By producing and publishing my content I have been destroying the fuel for Master Doubt, the little bastard.
People listen to my podcast and read my blog. It’s not just me! Every time someone tells me I am humbled and grateful that they have taken the time to read or listen and then tell me after. Naturally I want to get better at this writing and speaking gig, so the feedback people give me is invaluable for that process to develop. However more than that each time I hear from someone it does so much more, it chips away a little piece of my depression as I become more fulfilled. At that moment I feel like my life has purpose again and the lights inside are slowly being turned back on.
It is funny really when I stop for a moment and look at it. Years and years I spent searching for a job to make me happy, my depression worsening with each change of direction. Yet it has been my self doubt and depression that has brought me to this position. Deep down I wanted to stop feeling so terrible and find a balance in my life. That small force inside has finally begun winning.
I will probably still want to do different jobs and change what I am doing because I love learning. But it won’t be to find a purpose because I have that found that through my work with mental health. I am countering self doubt with education and creativity. I am striking down depression with fulfilment and purpose.
If you’ve made it this far then thank you. I appreciate not only your support, but the part inside you wanting more for yourself. Don’t let doubt stop you from pursuing anything. Just say “fuck it” and c
arry on regardless.
Keep on keeping on legends,