Fight the Self-Doubt and Fear

Last night I considered how since becoming a mother, I think I may be becoming a better human being … but a more neurotic writer. And I think I know why.

See, I’ve found the the truth in the notion that you don’t truly understand fear until you become a parent. At this point, if I started worrying thinking about it, I could get sucked into a vortex of mind-shattering “what-if” terrors about the kidlet. The many things I can’t protect her from. The even more perhaps I shouldn’t. What I do right, what I do wrong, etc, etc.

But I can’t go down that path, because that’s the road to crazy town.

And yet, some residue of that fear, of those worries remains, unattached and orphaned energy looking for a home … like, say my writing. And so before, where I prided myself on productivity and rarely found myself ever close to dreaded writers’ block, now it has become a real danger. I worry about how much – or how little – I’m producing. The quality. If I’m improving. If I’m doing the right things to promote my work, to keep growing, if I can ever truly achieve my potential, or if I will be left a dreamer without a dream.

And then you look up and realize, wow! Looks a lot like crazy town anyway, doesn’t it?

Perhaps you are one of those writers or artists who isn’t plagued by self-doubt. If you are, I congratulate you – and seriously urge you to write a “how to” manual for the rest of us out there! Because from what I’ve seen and heard, that self-doubt comes with the job. I suspect it’s because we’re largely self-driven, and the product we produce is so personal that judgment and reception of it is likewise so subjective, how can one ever say for certain what is “good” or “bad”? We’re left to ourselves to create that assessment of our own work. Perhaps too it’s because we’re so used to playing with “what if” that naturally it attacks us when we’re not looking. What if the badguys are just behind the hero … or what if I’ve wasted a year on this manuscript that will never amount to anything?

Good news: I have a couple of solutions for you to rid yourself of those dreaded twins, self-doubt and fear. They’re not perfect, and I assure you, I’m working on these methods myself. Consider it a work in progress.

  1. Ignore the buggers until they wither away. Yes, not easy. Especially when you hear exactly the wrong thing as you’re hip deep in the latest work that “will never sell” because “it’s out.” But the more energy we give fear especially, the stronger it becomes, and potentially, the more paralyzing.
  2. Let fear feed you, instead of eat you. Fear can destroy us because of its internal nature. And not all fear is bad – fearing jumping in front of a semi-truck is a healthy reaction likely to keep me less road-pizza-like. But sometimes, perhaps the solution is to embrace the fear, and attack it. Especially when it comes to our art. Is there something you want to say / create / write? Is it too personal / too hard / too damned scary? Then maybe it’s exactly what you need to say, because if it resonates that deeply with you, isn’t it likely to resonate with someone else?
  3. Improve the positive nature of your self-talk. The clue to self-doubt is in the name: it originates with ourselves, and therein lies the cure, too. Please believe me when I assure you I’m not being facetious, nor do I wish to trivialize what is a serious concern for some people. And yes, sometimes we need help with our self-doubt. But at least part of that needs to come from inside, from editing that nasty little voice in our heads that tells us we’re not good enough. My favorite advice is that we never tell ourselves anything we wouldn’t say to our best friend. So indeed, perhaps we need to improve – but there’s a better and more constructive way to phrase that other than “you suck,” don’t you think? šŸ˜‰
  4. Hear that worried voice in your head, consider, then dismiss. Sometimes we worry for a reason. But, if you’re a “worrier” like me, than there are lots of times that we just worry cause, well, I’m not sure really. Boredom? A desire to feel miserable? But even I know that worrying never did anyone any good. Instead, get up and make a plan to combat that worry. DO something, since just worrying about isn’t doing anything.

So, that’s my two cents for the week. šŸ˜‰ What do you do to combat fear and self-doubt?

Thanks for reading, and wishing you a great week free of self-doubt and fear. šŸ™‚

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