Thursday, February 3, 2011

That nagging self doubt

I am the queen of self doubt.  I really am.  I know it drives T absolutely crazy, but I constantly doubt myself.  Or critique myself.  It's ingrained in me, and I can't help it.  I am my worse critic.

It's the constant voice in my head saying "you can't do're not going to be good enough."  It's like the "it's a small world" song in my head.  I can't turn it off.  It's always there.  With my job, I may appear as confident as can be, but I'm thinking "what if I don't win this trial?  What if I mess up?"  When I took the bar exam, I had myself convinced for months that I had failed it before I saw the evidence that I passed. 

Sadly, the self doubt is following me into my new ventures.  With my new job, I put on the hat of "boss."  I have to make the tough decisions, and the buck stops with me.  And I would be lying if I don't hear my inner voice constantly saying "do you know what you're doing?  What if you can't crack it as boss?"

And the Mary Kay, I'm constantly thinking "well, what if people don't buy from me?  What if I just lose a bunch of money?"  I'm only 3 months into this venture, and I have myself convinced I'm going to fail.

The same goes with writing.  I sat down yesterday and got back to my manuscript, but in the back of my mind I'm asking "what if this is crap?  What if no one reads this?" 

And it's not the big things either - just ask T.  I'll make a meal and as we sit there eating, I go, "is it good?  Are you sure you like it, or are you really just saying that to make me happy?"

Some people call that being a pessimist.  Some people call it being hard on myself.  I call it being Nain. 
But no do you shut that voice out?  Back in college, after a rather rough break-up, my cousin, Emily, tried to keep me strong and positive by making a series of signs she made with paper and bright marker listing each reason why I didn't need to get back together with the jerk who dumped me.  (I did end up getting back with him and then broke up again, but...not the point here...)  They were there as constant reminders to strengthen me and keep me centered.   Because I would have those moments of weakness where I'd want to go back to my old habits and give him a call, but I'd look at those signs and go "oh yeah, that's why I don't want to." (Editorial note:  Those signs were no longer there in my new dorm room when I did get back with the jerk.  That could be why I faltered.)

So maybe I need signs around my house.  "You can do it, Nain!"  "You're a good writer, Nain!"  "Your meals don't taste like ass at all, Nain!" 

Or maybe I need to go all Stuart Smally on this and sit in front of a mirror going "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!"

Regardless, something has to give...any suggestions?  Am I the only one here who has this issue?



  1. You're not alone in this. I always think I'm not good enough, or brave enough... and I'm sure I'm going to fail.
    That's why one of my resolutions of this new year is to be optimistic. :)

  2. While I consider myself an optimist, I also consider myself a ball of stress and worry. Weird dichotomy. So you're not alone. Motivate yourself on Monday to have a full day of being positive and see how it feels at the end of the day. I bet you'll feel awesome!

  3. I think it's more of you needing some reminders that you are where you are because YOU got you there. Every time the nagging voice comes out, just look at the road behind you and tell youself that you were the one to tread it.

  4. We all have life-tapes that were put there by either parents (don't jump ahead of me, I'm not anti-parent, I am one!!), or people who have been significant to our lives. Someone like a significant sibling, or boy/girlfriend. Life tapes are very hard to break (wow I'm just a bundle of positivity aren't I). Instead of trying to break it, try to re-frame it. The positive notes are a great way to start. Start a list of the good/great things you did each day. No negative things allowed in this list.

    Re-frame it, when that voice screams at you that you can't do whatever "it" is, quietly scream back, "Yes I can because I did "it" yesterday!" If it is something new and that voice asks "are you sure you're up to it?" Remind yourself of the last new thing you succeeded at.

    Oprah had the idea a few years ago of a gratitude journal. When my former preteen/teenager (all grown up now) would have a day full of negativity I would have her give me 5 good things that happened that day. Sometimes it was simply that lunch didn't stink, none of the teachers gave her any homework, her locker unlocked the first time, the bathroom was clean, she didn't have to dress out for gym. But it got her off the negativity and pretty soon she was telling me about something absolutely hilarious from the day, or how a friend reached out to her that day.

    Now having said all of that, please don't be afraid to allow yourself to acknowledge the negative. Otherwise you end up gunny-sacking bad days till it all spills out at the most inopportune time.

    You are not alone. Put up those notes and have T write a few of them. Put them on your mirror, pillow, steering wheel, in your brief case, in your desk draw, etc. You get the idea.

    (Sorry for the blog length post, hope this helps you!)

  5. Lillian has some great ideas!
    And you are not alone... A lot of people have a hard time getting rid of those same or similar thoughts. It's really hard, it's something I've had to deal with a lot as well, I still fight it.

    My dad is a doctor and he's developed some techniques that help to correct those ways of thinking, if you're interested I can email you some of those

  6. You are not alone, as others have already said. I do the same things you do. In fact, looking back over my life I see that I missed sooooo many opportunities by not having the confidence in myself to move forward. For example, I once had the chance to create my own cabaret act. I sang a lot, just for fun, at piano bars around Philly and was good friends with an amazing and well-known piano player who told me he would love to play for me if I ever got an act together. Did I? No. Because I was wracked with feelings of insecurity. My #1 life dream was to be a singer and I let it go. Now I don't know if I even have a voice anymore - it's been such a long time since I've sang. This is probably my biggest regret.

    The point of my telling you this story is: Do not let anything get in the way of who you want to be. Least of all yourself. Just keep moving forward and tell that voice to shut up.


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