The Power of Doubt


Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

Once again I'm going to the popping class. I'm coming with big ambitions and a lot of excitement, today I'm trying out a new step! I'm listening to the uplifting tune, as I'm trying to move my body exactly like I recently saw in a dance video on YouTube.

But nothing seems to work as planned and every movement feels like a mistake. My torso is too stiff, my knees are not flexible enough and my shorts look weird. My limbs get heavier as my motivation slowly fades away.

What was supposed to be an exciting evening abruptly ends in frustration. Disheartened I'm packing my things and leave.

Once again, it got the better of me.

For major parts of my life, I am accompanied by a strong and overwhelming feeling: doubt.

How I Experience Doubt

I experience doubt in a variety of situations. But it feels quite similar every time!

The feeling comes suddenly. I'm paralyzed. My limbs feel slow and heavy. A tingling sensation moves across my upper body, shoulders and neck feel uneasy. Thousands of thoughts are crossing my mind, and I feel stupid. I've lost my flow.

It feels like I am completely surrounded by a thick, slimy substance. Breathing and moving are difficult. Maybe it's better to reserve my energy and just stay still?

It's not that I'm afraid of doing something wrong. I'm afraid of doing anything! I have the feeling of being wrong.

Don't write. Don't speak. Don't move. Just don't.

It Lurks Everywhere

Funnily enough, there is a certain uncertainty about doubt: I'll never know when and where it will hit me! This is another aspect that makes it so terrifying.

Often, I get very excited about a particular idea. I rush to my notepad, take a few frantic notes.

Even without a clear picture of the idea, my heart fills with joy. My mind is faster than my pen, as it explores the endless scenarios and fantastic possibilities how my idea will shine!

As soon as I lift the pen, the doubts are creeping in. I strike-through my notes and throw away the paper.

What a stupid idea, noone would ever use an app like that!

I write poems and blog posts. I even started to perform my poetry in front of different audiences, and I'm very grateful for being able to do so!

Writing fills me with joy. I love to formulate and refine my thoughts, put them into writing and show them to the world. My poetry and articles have started many interesting conversations, it allows me to be creative.

In short, writing is amazing!

For some articles that I write, words are literally flowing out of my head into the keyboard. I write the article in one go, edit and publish it. Done.

There are other times when every word I write feels harder than the one before. Every now and then, I start the article from scratch, but nothing ever comes out of it. Eventually, the article ends up as an unfinished draft, never to be seen again.

What a boring article! Besides, why did you even think you are qualified to talk about this topic?

You have the Power

I don't have the silver bullet against doubt. I frequently experience it. Which made me realize -

I am real, whether or not I doubt myself. I have the power to believe in myself.

You are in control of yourself: your body, your thoughts, your actions. Nobody can express you. Nobody can feel you. Nobody can be you. Except for you!

Doubting yourself means holding yourself back, which is great news! If you hold yourself back, you can also let yourself go!

Ever since I realized this, I've been trying to let myself go with increasing success. And the more I'm doing it, the more momentum I'm building up, which in turn makes it more difficult to doubt myself. That's what being in the flow means to me!

With that being said, here are a few practical approaches I use to deal with my doubts. For each point, try to come up with an example that relates to yourself!

Remember Past Successes

Try to think of similar situations in the past where you succeeded. Connect yourself with that experience. How did it feel to succeed? Did you feel like yourself? Was there a feeling of doubt present? How did you deal with it?

If you managed to do it before, chances are you will be able to do it again.

Hang in There

Even if you're repeatedly struggling with the same situation - hang in there!

Perseverance is often the key to success. Remember that famous quote by Thomas Edison? 💡

Start Small

Sometimes, the sheer size of the task ahead is intimidating us.

Want to write a novel but don't know where to start? Try a few short stories first. Are you into climbing? No need to start with Mt. Everest, go on a few hikes before doing bigger tours.

It's good to shoot for the stars, if that gives you motivation! But sometimes, it's helpful to start small and take it from there.

Take a Deep Breath

You can read this literally or metaphorically.

If you're overwhelmed by doubt in the moment, close your eyes, take three deep breaths, open your eyes again.

Metaphorically, this is about taking a step back and taking care of yourself. It will freshen up your mind and body and help you to regain the connection to yourself. This includes things like going for a walk, meditating, taking a bath, a hearty meal or a big cup of black tea. Experiment what works best for you!

After taking a deep breath, move on with your regained strength!

Get Support

Struggling with a specific problem? Get support from someone who has been there before!

This could be anyone: someone you met at a local meetup group, a coach, a friend with relevant experience, you name it!

You can even reach out to someone who you saw talking about a similar topic on social media like Twitter or Instagram; people are more open than ever to engage with others in a private chat. Remember to be respectful and mindful, and you'd be surprised how many interesting conversations are following!

Don't be shy and ask for help! As the old adage goes, it costs nothing. And there's no shame in getting help, either.

Beyond Doubt

I wasn't sure if I will write this article. I have turned uncertainty into certainty. And here we are: this article is real.

Life is a mystery; all living beings are such powerful creatures. We breath, we move, we are. And so, we form reality.

For me, defying my doubts and forming reality brings great joy. I hope you will take courage and defy your own doubts. I am thrilled to see how you will change reality.

I know you have the power.

What is your experience with doubt? How do you handle your doubts? I am very curious to hear from you! Send me your thoughts in Twitter or via email.

Published 27 February 2019

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