This year has been…a lot
On the larger global level it has held a lot of tragedy, sometimes in such rapid succession that there was no time to process before the next awful event. There’s a sense of intensity alternating with numbness.
On a personal level, there were huge openings for me, and with that tremendous release and recalibration. I don’t know about you, but self-doubt continues to be one of the most challenging patterns to move through. Much like courage, which could be defined as taking the brave or right action in spite of fear— confronting and shedding self-doubt seems to be done through taking opposite action and continuing forward in spite of fear. I feel this is also a common refrain for folks I’m working with who are developing their intuition.
It’s so easy to explain away those beautiful moments of clarity we can experience in deep repose, when we snap back into conscious awareness. It’s easy to say that synchronicity is just coincidence. It’s easier sometimes to focus on the arbitrary missing measures of success or accomplishment and point to that as evidence to quit, than to have trust in your capability when the results aren’t there (yet). And it’s easy to push people away when you feel hurt, or to let isolated moments of disappointment become a story of “not enough.”
I see self-doubt as a particular flavor of low self-worth. A persistent belief that you don’t really know something…. you don’t really know yourself, what you’re doing, that you’re not that special, or that what you’re doing is never enough. Another variation of this is dismissing ideas and musings offhand, assuming that no one else will find them interesting or valuable. On the individual level this is important healing work for us to do. Taken to the collective level, not addressing these patterns leads to detachment and inward focus, which contributes to breaking down our ability to exist in connection, care, and empathy. Self-worth and the way we value others are intricately connected, a circle of reciprocity.
It’s the holiday season and even though I’m not seeing my biological family this winter my unconscious has pulled out the “tape collection” and is playing the old hits from Christmas Past. I have much practice facing these feelings and building self-trust through continued action, and taking my intuition seriously. Because I believe connecting with your intuition and actually making decisions based on it is one of the most powerful ways to change your life.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy! Many turns around the wheel are necessary to break down intrusive and unwelcome patterns. I try to see these old narratives as my opportunity to work with this, to say “oh, I guess this is still here. Let’s work with it then.” It can be a bit gritty.
Last week I found myself in a serious funk, uncharacteristically neurotic and obsessive. A throwback to ways I haven’t felt in a very long time. I pulled some cards to try to find my center again and pulled “Death” and “Cleansing.” A little on the nose.
But the message that came through was that while there is value to prowling the deep feelings to emerge through into something else, sometimes you find yourself in a hole with no bottom and the sooner you can gather and lift yourself up the better. In this case, the action was to resist the temptation to become lost in old stories.
People are sometimes surprised when I share these sort of feelings, because I “seem so confident.” I think confidence and self-doubt aren’t mutually exclusive, both can take forms that are more internal or external. And I like to challenge the idea that healing means that you don’t have problems or experience difficult emotions anymore.
Most people I know experience some version of self-doubt, a natural consequence of living in a world that often asks you to do more and more.
I often say in client work that when you commit to being exactly who you are (and stop shape-shifting depending on who you’re talking to) some people will like you less and others will like you even more. No one can be universally liked by everyone. No one succeeds at literally everything they do. Learning not only to accept this but integrate it as a neutral truth is necessary to shed self-doubt. This process requires learning to separate fact from fiction, and asks you to be the writer of your story not merely a witness to it.
In this last month of the year we are energetically moving towards the most potent time for shadow work, clearing and breaking down what you don’t want to take into the next. My own negativity bias in the past has sometimes influenced me to focus more on what is “wrong,” or working on processing emotions related to difficult past events. But another part of shadow work is to reorient to the truth of this moment and step into a new story, even as you sort through the wreckage of past wounds. It is a feature of trauma-influenced narratives to focus on repairing brokenness rather than reclaiming the luminous and vibrant beings we are at the core. Part of combatting this entrenched pattern of thinking is being careful not to become consumed with endless processing.
We have to think about what we want to bring in and grow, right alongside the release. This is actually required for release work to be sustainable.
Unconscious patterns are coping strategies, and trying to give them up without a replacement can lead to the same patterns reemerging new ways. What will you put in its place?
What is the antidote to your personal self-doubt?
What are the actions and thought patterns that can support those reclaimed parts of yourself who are ready to step into new stories?