“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” ~ Pema Chodron
Nine out of ten times when I feel paralyzed, it’s because I doubt myself.
Sometimes I doubt my knowledge—whether I truly know enough to move forward. Sometimes I doubt the choices I’ve already made, as if I can somehow find a sense of control in rehashing what I’ve done and deciding how to do it better in the future.
Other times I doubt my instincts. I think I know what’s right for me, but my mind decides to split and take sides, creating a nagging sense of internal conflict over what I actually want to do.
I’ve mostly dealt with this as it pertains to my dreams, and it’s partially because I’m terrified of doing the wrong thing and somehow ruining everything I’ve been working toward. I don’t want to say the wrong thing, or make the wrong decision and then have to take responsibility for the outcome of my choice.
It feels easier not to choose at all.
But what I’m learning is that there is no such thing as “wrong.” The only wrong choice is not making one. That’s not to say we’ll always create the outcomes we visualize. But maybe that isn’t the point.
Maybe the point is to learn to be less afraid of leaping, knowing that the net may not always appear, but the fall will never be far enough to do any lasting damage.
This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as I stretch outside my comfort zone with public speaking. As a former loner, I don’t deal well with crowds in general, let alone crowds staring at me while I talk vulnerably and passionately about something I love.
The space between the stage and the ground always feels like a massive distance, both in the ascent and the decline. I can’t say for certain I will ever feel fully confident in the spotlight. I may always feel at least some self-doubt, but I can choose not to doubt the choice to stretch and grow.
Doubts are just an inevitable part of life. The important thing is that we act in spite of them.
With this in mind, I recently asked on the Tiny Buddha Facebook page, “How do you overcome doubts?” I compiled some of the 100+ responses that resonated most strongly with me. They include:
1. Think, “In a thousand years who’s going to care?” ~Shaec Cooper
2. Focus on the good in your life, reflect on your past achievements, and look to your mentors and all they have achieved. ~Tiscanny Derksen
3. Tell yourself, “If I don’t try then I’ll never know. Don’t doubt yourself. You are a perfect example of talent and beauty.” ~Annie Pryatel
4. My mantra for this year: My abilities will always outweigh my doubts. The moment when I think I can’t is the moment that I can.” ~Lissa Rae
5. The moment you feel it creeping in, it’s time to act. Get involved and let experience prove you wrong. ~Hector Peguero
6. Acknowledge them but don’t invest in them. Then move on. ~Ray Benoit
7. Ask where the doubt stems from. Is it your intuitive self or your fearful self? Ask that question and listen to the very first thought that comes into your head. Believe that one. ~Wendy Chadwick
8. When in doubt, zoom out. If you doubt all the time, you need to zoom out to the big picture. ~Mary Mecca
9. Ask yourself, “What will happen if I doubt this doubt?” ~Gareth Stubbs
10. What’s the worst that could happen if you do what you feel doubtful about? Is that something you can deal with? Then do it! Most of our worries are a waste of time. What will happen, will happen. ~Kate Roselund
11. Put one foot in front of the other and keep going. ~Roze Quartz
12. Learn to live with them comfortably. ~Esteban Cabral
13. Realize that doubts are fear, and fear is: Forgetting Everything’s All Right. ~Sherri Levy
14. The doubtful vibe that you send out into the universe will only create more doubt. Refocus and believe. ~Tiffany Helton
15. Breathe. ~Marti Erickson Chamberlain
16. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Doubt is only a thought and feeling, nothing to resist. ~De-stress Your Success
17. Notice that a doubt is just a thought and don’t believe in it. ~Rami Liesaho
18. See doubt as a means to improve yourself. Break through the barrier of doubt to better yourself. ~Deepak Soowamber
19. You have to walk through them, and it sometimes turns out your doubts were well-founded. You aren’t guaranteed a “good” outcome but there is treasure even in a “bad” outcome if you know how to look. ~Alyson Irvin
20. Start with love. Be still with love. And work through with love. ~Pamela Paraison
Are you dealing with any doubts right now? What’s helping you move past them?
*Some of the Facebook responses were edited slightly to read “you” instead of “I.” Photo by MaplessInSeattle.
About Lori Deschene
Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She’s also the author of Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, Tiny Buddha's Worry Journal, and Tiny Buddha's Inner Strength Journal and co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. For daily wisdom, join the Tiny Buddha list here. You can also follow Tiny Buddha on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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