Once in a while I experience periods of self-doubt. They appear without warning, taint everything, strip me of my confidence, and make me question all that is important to me. It happened to me earlier this year; and last week it happened again. Fortunately, my experience and my writing tell me it doesn’t last forever and there are things I can do to help myself. This post looks at the process of dealing with the doubt, and highlights three aspects which helped to minimise the effect it had on me: (1) the value of recording events; (2) the use of emergency procedures; and (3) the awareness that there is more than one way to deal with things.
- The value of recording events. Having written my account of the previous occasion in March this year, under the title, ‘Acceptance & Permission‘, I am able to see that five months have passed since then. This creates the opportunity to detect a pattern and predict that it might happen again five months from now, in January 2015. At the very least, I am now curious to see how long before it recurs, which it will. Recording the information also allows me the chance to reflect on the details of what happened and use it in the future. All of which increases my awareness.
- The use of emergency procedures. As early as one month into my journal writing, in the entry ‘Don’t Get Down, Get Busy‘, I learnt that physical work lifts my mood. I exercise every day anyway, but when I felt my mood changing last week I made a point of doing more. I also had work I could focus on, so I did that too. That was fairly easy because my work is at an exciting phase at the moment. All three projects – editing the final journal posts, writing the concluding chapters of this blog, and editing my book for the final time – are reaching their denouement. I pushed all three forward in order to dispel my self-doubt and ended the week, just as I had in March, busy and active. (This post came out of it, also.)
- There is more than one way to deal with things. Whilst the most recent period of uncertainty saw me focus directly on work and exercise, back in March I took one look at the sunny weather forecast and gave myself the week off. Two strategies to deal with the same feeling. Both decisions worked and both were made without too much thought, once I became aware that I needed to take action. Interestingly, both also yielded precisely the same result: a solid working week spent looking after myself. Most satisfying of all was how quickly the self-doubt disappeared. Within a day it had faded, its essence lingering sufficiently to help drive my process for the rest of the week.
Whenever you have to deal with the kinds of feelings which can drag you down, take action. Even if action means taking no action. Explore what’s effective for you and have some emergency procedures in place which always work. That way you can use them as soon as you become aware that you need them. But don’t be too rigid. Listen closely to yourself and give yourself permission to do whatever you think is good for you.