Self-Doubt

I saw Terminator 2 before I saw Terminator

A friend was trying to explain to me what the hell was going on. In Terminator a cyborg from the future travels back to the present day to kill Sarah Connor (actually 1984, but I’d be quite happy if that was still the present day). Whislt in town he leaves behind some technology. That technology is what enables our scientists to invent the cyborgs. So the cyborgs only exist because when they already existed they gave us the technology to invent them.

Not only that, but in the future the humans are fighting a war against the cyborgs. John, Sarah’s son, the leader of the resistance sends back a man called Kyle to stop the cyborg.

Kyle finds Sarah as the cyborg is closing in on her and tells her “Come with me if you want to live”. Hollywood demands they bond in adversity and Sarah gets pregnant with John.

So John only exists because when he already existed he sent his father back in time, who then met his mother and became his father.

Is that a paradox?

And if you see the sequel first then – woah – wtf?

I live in a house constructed mostly of self-doubt. Parts of the walls are made with confidence, but there’s also a spot on the floor made up solely of anxiety. I can see through a window of possibility. But mostly I’m surrounded by self-doubt.

Because of my self-doubt most of my hopes and dreams, even the very ordinary ones, seem impossible to me a lot of the time.

When I reflect inwards, looking inside myself instead of outside to what my house is made of, I discover creativity, energy, joy, peace and wellbeing. And a calling to help other people living in houses like mine.

When I was focussed on looking outwards I thought I had to move house and be living on Confidence Street or Courage Boulevard in order to help other people. Then I realised that trying to develop confidence or courage has never really worked for me.

And I’ve still done stuff. Been to job interviews (and got offered most of them – although not the one a week after my Mum died, which ended with the interviewer saying “Well, thanks anyway”), given presentations, started charging for my coaching, spoken Polish to real live Polish people and had them answer me in Polish! and won a coveted Pointless trophy on my favourite daytime quuiz show. My life isn’t a barren wasteland.

But I didn’t do any of that in the absence of self-doubt. Of course, my fearful thoughts aren’t hanging about 100% of the time (even when it seems they are) but they were there during all the above. So they didn’t hold me back then. But they do get in the way sometimes.

I went to see the comedian Henning Wehn recently. He’s a really nice guy and he chats with people a bit before and after the show. I really wanted to ask him if I could have my picture taken with him. But he looked really busy (he was collecting the glasses and sorting out the chairs, like I said, a really nice guy and not some arsehole showbiz diva) and I didn’t want to look like a groupie. What if he said no? It would be so humiliating.

And then I started thinking that “other people” wouldn’t hold back just because he seemed busy. But it just didn’t feel right to me to interrupt him. And then I felt confused. All that overthinking, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do – ask or not ask. I felt inadequate because I wanted to ask, but thought it wasn’t appropriate, but I couldn’t leave it there. I couldn’t be someone who had wanted to make a reasonable request of someone but decided it wasn’t the right moment. I had to doubt myself and berate myself for being too scared to ask him.

And thoughts like that make me wonder who am I to be coaching people around self-doubt and opening up to possibility?

And yet. I’m doing work I love. I’m making money without having a job. I have more time to spend with friends and family and to focus on my health. Losing my self-doubt wasn’t a pre-requisite. It isn’t even a consequence. I’m still waiting for the confidence to kick in.

I recently discovered that my thoughts about not being good enough aren’t telling me the truth but my feelings of doubt come from believing them. We can’t control our thoughts but when we know that our experience comes from what we think about the “scary job interview” and not the interview itself, which is neutral, we create a space for our minds to clear. With a clear mind we have access to everything we need to accomplish our goals. A lot more becomes possible for us. And we feel more alive.

I thought that ignoring thoughts of not being good enough meant pretending I didn’t have them. That in order to have integrity as a coach my doubt had to be all behind me, replaced by a newfound peppiness.

But the truth is that I have major thoughts of self-doubt all the time. I’m having one now.

Only when I’m totally ok with being someone who is stopped by fearful thinking can I be someone who isn’t stopped by fearful thinking.

Is that a paradox?

If not, the Terminator intro was wasted. But I like any excuse to take a trip to the eighties.

Another couple of windows of possibility have appeared in my house

I’m qualified to coach, not because I’ve found the remedy or antidote to my doubt, but precisely because I’m still right in the messy middle of it and doing my stuff anyway. Even if it’s still one tiny baby step at a time.

But I’m not broken, and I don’t need a cure.

And if your house is made up in any part of self-doubt, then neither do you. Everything you need is already inside you, your true nature is wellbeing and your inner wisdom will guide you. Stick around. If doubt is in your way at all, then without doing a single thing about it, I can help you get where you want to go anyway.

Come with me if you want to live.