“What do you think? Should I post this?” I asked a friend a few weeks ago.
I had been conflicted and uncertain about a very personal post, doubting whether and how to write the article. Those simple questions started an avalanche of similar doubts and questions and, before long, self-doubt had infiltrated almost every word, every sentence that I wrote.
What started out as a kernel of self-doubt and insecurity quickly crept into every nook and cranny of my life until it became hard to find something that wasn’t tainted with doubt’s bitter stench. My choices, relationships, priorities, interactions with others, potential writing career, decisions big and small, and parenting strategies all fell victim to doubt’s tenacity. (And, really, does anything lend itself to as much self-doubt as parenting?)
Should I…? What if…?
Doubt is a pesky and tenacious beast, with an uncanny ability to thrive on inaction and breed further self-doubt. And the natural responses seem to be second-guessing, over-thinking, pretending, and minimizing the chance of failure by avoiding anything that might fall short of “just right” or “perfect.”
What if I can’t…?
So I wrote less, questioned myself more, distrusted others, punted on most decisions, put up protective shields, avoided vulnerability, and waited for the wave of doubt to pass in a buoy built on inaction and skepticism.
The doubts didn’t subside, however, and the confidence didn’t miraculously return. Instead, interactions with others started to feel a little colder and relationships felt a little less meaningful. I missed writing and I questioned myself more than ever.
How come…? Why can’t I…?
And then it hit me: the antidote to doubt isn’t certainty or playing it safe; the only remedy for doubt is Faith.
Faith in self and in others. Faith in resilience and in the very questions themselves.
Faith in a power that comes not from surrendering to doubt, but from acknowledging it and moving past it. Faith in the worth of the perfectly imperfect, in the healing power of mistakes, in the redemptive power of Grace.
Faith that relationships cannot be full and rich unless they are a little bit messy, that improvement doesn’t come through second-guessing, but in constant and sincere effort.
And above all, Faith in the comfort that comes from the not knowing and the strength that comes from simply trying, stumbling, and trying again.
Certainly, there is a need for thoughtful contemplation, sensible editing, and mindfulness. But, sometimes, those things just aren’t enough.
Sometimes the only match for doubt is a complete and total leap of Faith.
Do you struggle with self-doubt? How do you combat it?