Saturday, December 17, 2016

Pushing Through Fear and Self-Doubt

How many times has self-doubt stopped you from doing something? Think of where you would be if you never allowed fear of not being good enough stop you from doing something you might love, or be really good at, or that might really add to your life or someone else's.

I am someone who has always struggled with self-doubt. I compare my work to someone else's, and feel like giving up because what I have to offer can't compare. Or I am scared of what people will think. Or my perfectionist tendencies come out and I think my work isn't good enough.
Trying not to let my fear of heights stop me from experiencing the zipline in Costa Rica. I think I cried a little bit... hahaha!
This blog is an example of something that I was really scared to start. I knew I would love writing blog posts, I knew it would make me really happy to know that someone out there was interested enough to read some of what I had to say. I had a whole bunch of fears though, and still do, which is why I haven't told very many people about this blog! I have fears about what people will think, will people I know find it weird that I am opening up on a platform that absolutely anyone could access? Will people judge what I say or how I do things? Will anyone even be interested in what I write about?

Another example is an idea I had lately of starting an Etsy shop. I love crafts and creating things, and I think I could have a lot of fun with it. Maybe I could even make some money out of it. So many doubts and fears pop into my head though! Thoughts telling me it will never work. Questions like, "Why would someone buy something I made when they could just make it themselves?" Doubts about whether what I have to offer is "good enough" or not.

I do not know where this came from, this side of me. I have always been like this, for as long as I can remember. I remember being little and seeing an illustration of a pioneer girl in a book. I loved the picture so I decided to try to draw my own. I distinctly remember looking at my picture when I was done, then looking at the picture that the illustrator drew for a published book, and thinking about how theirs was so much better than mine, and throwing mine out. What was the point in trying when my drawing as a ten-year-old could never compare to that illustrators drawing, am I right? So ridiculous!

We can do so much more in life if we don't allow ourselves to be ruled by fear and self-doubt. If we stop being so scared of being uncomfortable. Here are some strategies that I find really helpful in trying to overcome fear and self-doubt. In one sense I don't feel I'm qualified to be talking about this because it's something I struggle with every day, but on the other hand I think that almost qualifies me more because I really know what it's like to have fear and self-doubt (but come on who doesn't) and the strategies that help me are fresh in my mind!

Thinking back on past successes.

The first significant time this really worked for me was after my first trip to Europe. I went the summer after I graduated for World Youth Day in Spain, and did a tour beforehand and a little bit of staying in hostels in between. I was with friends the whole time and it really wasn't impressive at all, but for some reason when I came back, I was really able to overcome fear of doing things by the thought, "I could travel to Europe, I can totally do this." Another big one was when I went to Peru when I was 19 - my confidence really grew during that trip. When I was back home I would think back on the things I was able to do there (even just going on a plane by myself which was actually the part I was most scared for) and it really helped me to see that I could do scary things.

Fear is just a mind game (but a very powerful one), so if we focus on the times we were able to do something even though we were scared, or were able to do something difficult, it helps shift the focus from what we "can't" do to what we can.

Ahhh Europe...
Hiking the Inca Trail during my trip to Peru!
Looking at discomfort differently.

This wisdom is brought to you by my wonderful husband :). When I talked to him about how I find myself wanting to give up on things because I don't think I'm good enough or it's scary or hard, his advice was that he thinks I should try to be more okay with being uncomfortable.

Of course everyone wants to be comfortable, especially in our day and age. It almost seems like comfort is the highest good according to the world! But we don't grow very much when we are comfortable.

It is so easy to see discomfort as a negative thing, but really discomfort is a necessary part of stretching ourselves, growing as a person, trying new things, putting ourselves out there, having a blog or putting something up on Etsy! ;)

Failure is scary, so sometimes we just don't want to try, because we could fail. I know that is a mentality I carry with me a lot of the time. Or, I don't want anyone to know I'm trying, because then they might know I "failed" in the end.

Being uncomfortable is a good thing. It means we're growing.

This is an excellent one and a half minute video that illustrates this point perfectly.

I just find this photo hilarious.
Seeing excuses for what they really are.

Excuses are just fear and self-doubt in disguise. I am the queen of excuses. Sticking with the theme of the blog and the putting up something for sale on Etsy, excuses that I have come up with include:

"I am not an expert on anything, so I can't write a blog." Really that's just fear that nobody would be interested. When I think about that rationally, I realize you really don't have to be an expert to write a blog. You can just write about your unique perspective and experiences and that is enough. You can write in a blog just because you like to write :)

"I doubt anyone would want to buy what I made." "This idea probably won't work so I just shouldn't try." "Selling stuff on Etsy seems to complicated." Again, it's all just fear of failure. What's the worst that could happen? I make something and put it on Etsy, nobody wants it so I keep it. That very likely could happen, and it really wouldn't be the end of the world. I've lost nothing really. If I don't try, though, I could potentially be losing a lot. I would never know!

Okay I feel like this is just turning into a pep talk to myself...

But back to my point. Excuses are usually just manifestations of our fear and self-doubt, they are our ways of trying to "protect" ourselves from failure. Really what they are doing is stopping us from even trying and potentially being successful, and at the very least growing as a person because we tried something new and went out of our comfort zone.

Involving God.

This, of course, is the most effective and important way to deal with fear and self-doubt. It's generally the most helpful way of dealing with everything, actually. Praying, and trusting God. Sometimes easier said than done though :).

At the times in my life when my prayer life is going well, I find it so much easier to give my worries, fears, and insecurities to God. It is so much easier to see the bigger picture, to stop focusing so much on myself and let go of my pride a little, which in turn allows me to let go of my self-doubt. When my prayer life is going well this seems to happen naturally, just as a result of my dialogue with God. The struggle for me is having the discipline to continue praying and trusting in God in when it all doesn't come as naturally. I try to keep reminding myself how important that relationship with God is, and just keep working at it!

One way of praying that really brings me peace in this area is just thinking back on specific times that I've been worried or scared, and God has taken care of me and helped me, and thanking Him for those times. It brings me so much peace because I feel so reminded that God is always taking care of me, so there is nothing to worry about.

And the irony of this post is that I feel scared publishing it. Haha!

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