I’m sure every single one of us has faced the suffocating feeling of doubt.
It’s inevitable: at some point we all doubt our worth. Whether it’s the quality of our writing (guilty), our parenting (also guilty), or our value, it happens to the best of us.
Doubt can be crippling if you let it. It slides into a minuscule crack when you’re not looking and grows, expanding until it creates fissures and develops deep roots.
Doubt kills creativity. It stops progress and stalls even the highest flying projects. It can drown the most promising undertaking.
But what do you DO about it? Shrivel up and hide? Delete everything you’ve written? Destroy that canvas you’ve bled on for months?
1. Don’t compare yourself to others.
This is a biggy. The success or failure of others has nothing to do with you. Just because another author was listed on the New York Times Bestseller list with their first novel, doesn’t mean you are a failure if you don’t. Cheer their success and keep writing.
You are seeing the end result, not the stuff that went on behind-the-scenes. Maybe they had a million rejection slips before they were finally noticed. Maybe they’re able to write full-time because they’re supported by their partner while you had to juggle a full-time job and write at the crack of dawn before your workday started. Maybe they don’t have kids while you are sneaking off to write in the bathroom for the ten minutes of peace you get a day.
Your value doesn’t increase or decrease because of someone else. You have to find your own unique path to your own definition of success.
2. Everyone makes mistakes.
It’s not the end of the world. Almost all mistakes can be fixed or repaired. Sure it sucks. Sure it’s embarrassing.
Use each mistake as an opportunity to learn. No one is perfect. So you find a grammatical mistake after you’ve published your ebook. (It happens to everyone. Ahem. Even traditionally published or heavily edited manuscripts can have errors.) Thankfully, in today’s publishing world you can correct it and upload a cleaner version.
Yell at your kids when they are driving you bonkers and asking for a cookie for the ONE MILLIONTH TIME? Walk away, cool down, and apologize for yelling. Then talk to them about how to ask for things (age appropriately of course) and that no means no and/or how to bargain properly (again age appropriateness applies). And do better at keeping your cool next time.
If a mistake can’t be corrected – and let’s be truthful, some can’t – find a way to forgive yourself and do better the next time. Find the lesson that needs to be learned in that instance.
3. No one knows what they are doing.
That’s right. Life doesn’t come with a manual! There isn’t a parenting handbook or an end-all be-all instruction book for being successful in life. We are all stumbling along doing the best we can at life.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase fake it ’til you make it. It holds merit. The best way to feel happy is to smile or laugh, even when you don’t feel like it. The best way to become successful at something is to do it. To try. You aren’t going to be a success by doing nothing.
4. Find something positive to focus on.
Have a positive review that makes you feel all fluffy inside? Share it. Is there an award gathering dust in a closet somewhere? Display it. Remind yourself of your accomplishments and achievements. Someone wrote a thank you note for something you did? Read it.
Find something that reminds you of the potential within yourself.
A fabulous friend recently gave me my favorite gift of the year: affirmation cards. I used to love books that had a daily motivation or quote, but a whole book seems intimidating now. I have so much on my plate (3 kids, multiple non-writing jobs, my writing job, life… you get the idea.) Remembering to look at a book for a positive quote just doesn’t happen.
But the cards are easy. I keep the stack next to my purse and before I leave for work I just grab one. Easy-peasy. I can’t believe how something so small and simple has turned around my frame of mind. Sure the nagging negativity is still there, but I just remind myself of whatever mantra the card had on it and it fades. It’s kind of eerie how each card has fit perfectly for each day.
Gasp! I know. This one is scary. But try it. Do something new, just for the hell of it (not anything stupid or life threatening, people.) Something that you are probably going to suck at. Something that you will more than likely fail.
Knitting, painting, flash fiction, poetry, woodworking, playing an instrument – whatever. Something that takes practice and skill, that you just haven’t developed yet.
So you failed, right? Was it the end of the world?
No? Good. Find something else and do it again. And again. Until you aren’t as concerned about failure anymore. Practice at failing until the act of failing no longer stresses you out.
If you haven’t failed, you aren’t living enough. Life is filled with failures. It sucks to fail. I HATE it. Hate. It. But it’s going to happen.
It’s inevitable that doubt will creep in. But arm yourself with ways to combat it. Swim past that doubt. It isn’t going to last forever.
Have any tips for pushing past doubt and keeping the momentum going? Feel free to share!