When the Doubts Set In
We’ve all been there. We have what we think is a great idea, and let our fingers race excitedly over the keyboard. Then we either get stuck half-way through, wondering what to write next — or we’re lucky and we get to the end, but then feel defeated after reading it over. ‘This is horrible! Nobody’s going to want to read this!’
This happens to me with about 85% of everything I write, whether I’m working on an article here, or on one of my novels.
Are we over-thinking it? Well, sometimes it can really be horrible — we’re not always going to write stellar articles. Sometimes they’re going to suck. But whether it’s the next Nobel-prize-worthy thesis, or a C- primary school level essay, we need to get out of our own heads.
Confidence is different than conceit
“There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance…it’s called humility. Confidence smiles. Arrogance smirks.” — Unknown
I think the key — well, one of the keys — is to find that self-confidence that’s hiding deep down inside.
I’m not talking about looking at our own work with so much arrogance that the only thing people will notice is the stench of conceit. No — that’s probably one of the most unattractive traits any human can have.
Conceit is ugly. It’s boastful and self-centered. It seeks attention, and it usually gets it, but not the right kind. Don’t be that person.
I’m talking about having the confidence in knowing that you’re able to do what you set out to do, and you’re able to do it well. And that maybe if you’re not able to do it as well as you’d like right now, you’ve got the confidence that you’re able to learn and grow to become the best that you can.
Have the humility to know that there will always be someone else who can do it bigger and better and that it’s okay. That there’s always room for improvement and that you’re not only willing but also excited to keep learning and improving.
Doubt is nothing more than the product of fear
Fear is the biggest killer of dreams. We all know that fear is a natural reaction to the unknown — our own brain’s defense mechanism against potential danger. And the unknown is always risky, therefore, dangerous.
This monster doesn’t live under the bed or hide in the back of the closet. It doesn’t come skulking out at night while you’re sleeping to watch you from the dark corners of your room. But it can be just as terrifying.
Terrifying, because fear is the biggest reason people remain stagnant. The reason people settle for a life of mediocrity rather than forge ahead towards the life they crave. The life they deserve.
Fear throws up roadblocks in your path faster than you can blink — “No, no it’s not safe that way. You’ll get hurt if you take this road. Take that road instead — the safe one you already know by heart.”
Fear grabs you by the sleeve and pulls you back — “Wait, you can’t go there, it’s too risky! You don’t know if the road drops out around that bend, there could be a cliff. Just stay here instead, where the ground is flat. It’s safe right here.”
But don’t despair; fear is not undefeatable. It is not unbreakable. It can only control you if you allow it — if you give it that power.
Don’t allow fear to feed your doubt
“There are four ways you can handle fear. You can go over it, under it, or around it. But if you are ever to put fear behind you, you must walk straight through it. Once you put fear behind you. Leave it there.” — Donna Favors
Donna Favors said it right. ‘You can go over it, under it, or around it.’ Of course, you can, but if you do that, you’re letting it live. You’re just skirting it, allowing it to still exist. Do that, and it will eventually find you again.
Imagine that your fear is a big bad wolf. It’s dangerous, it’s been stalking you for years and it’s ready to pounce at any moment. You know you can’t win that fight. If you circle around it, are you going to be safe?
Easy answer. No. It’s just going to keep hunting you.
‘If you are ever to put it [fear] behind you, you must walk straight through it.’ You’ve gotta kill that wolf! You’ve got to face it head-on, look it right in it’s glowing yellow eyes, and do the unexpected. Attack. Don’t be the victim. Stop being the victim.
Easier said than done, I know. I hear you. That wolf probably has a litter of pups somewhere and they’re getting hungry too.
But the point is that you’ve got to face your fears before you can conquer them.
You’ve got to confidently look doubt in the face (try the mirror), and tell it to stuff it!
We all doubt ourselves from time to time — it’s normal. We sit here and read so many amazing articles written by gifted writers, so of course, we’re going to doubt our ability to ever be on the same level.
But one thing I’ve found since finding this platform is that the level of community is beyond anything I’ve ever seen anywhere else. The people — the writers and the readers — are who make this place what it is.
Talk to people, interact here, and on the many social media groups available to us, and I guarantee you that you’ll find people who will help you grow. Who will help you realize your potential, and who will help you kick doubt and fear to the curb whenever it tries to come after you again.
They say being a writer can be a lonely road, but I have to disagree. How can you be lonely when you’re surrounded, not only by words and stories but by an entire world within a world. A world of writers.
This is your world. It’s my world too. Together we will learn. We will grow. We will walk through fear with confidence — we will check our arrogance at the door.
We will knock out doubt for a count of ten, and come out the champion.
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