I recently spoke at the wonderful Claudia Chan SHE SUMMIT event to a group of women who all came to be inspired and supported in what they do in the workplace and move forward in a successful, creative and connected way to make a difference in the world. Whenever I speak, I always share my own personal story and experiences with the audience of how I overcame some of my own inner struggles to regain my sense of what I am here to do and contribute. I ask the audience if they struggle with self-doubt, and usually three-quarters of the people raise their hands — and I think the other quarter most likely didn’t hear me. This audience was no different.
I think most human beings struggle with some form of doubt. I believe that doubt is the No. 1 killer of the human spirit. And it is imperative that we see it and address it and shake it loose. With fear, you can still feel the adrenaline and get the energy to overcome it, but doubt can paralyze you and you don’t even feel it. You don’t even know you are doubting. It is the equivalent of being in a dark hole under the earth and not knowing that there is a whole world above you full of light. How would you know? You are under the earth!
The voice of doubt whispers in our ears and draws us into this dark hole. And we listen to it. Things like: You can’t do that, you don’t know how to do that, who do you think you are, you don’t have it in you, keep quiet or you’ll get fired, rejected, disliked, disapproved of — fill in the blank. You are not important enough, you are not good enough, you are this, you are that…
This voice can come in as we are trying to take a new step in our careers, to form a new relationship, to launch a creative idea, to start a hobby that gives us joy, to let go of living in an environment where we feel stuck and unfulfilled, to ask for a raise, to ask for help — in any place where we want to expand into new territory. Shakespeare said it best: “Our doubts are traitors / And make us lose the good we oft might win / By fearing to attempt.” We betray ourselves by denying ourselves even the possibility of attempting something new, and then our mighty spirits shrink a little and our gorgeous hearts shut down.
Those of you who are familiar with my story know that I was raised by a mother who was always bigger than her doubt. She would always say to us, “I have no doubt that if you want to do this or that (whatever that was) and set your mind and give it your full attention to it (oh yes, she was very big on giving something your full attention!) you will do it.”
I now have my own little tribe to remind me of this — all of us ready to remind each other of who we are and what we are capable of doing. We have a promise to ourselves and each other that the minute we feel the doubt creeping in, we call it in. “Darling, I am in it. I am doubting myself. Send me a love rope to pull me up.” And all we really need to hear on the other end is, “I believe in you, I support you in what you want to do, and I’ve got your back and your heart.”
The amazing thing is that someone else will often spot it even before I know it, and vice versa. I’ll say to my friend who I see doubting without even knowing it, “Darling, don’t you know who you are? Have you asked for help? Are you trying to do it alone?” And then I send down a love rope to help my friend climb back into the light. I move in with the love of a mama bear to help shift the doubt, and I am ruthless with the part that’s undermining us to stop us from being who we deserve to be. And they do the same for me when I am in doubt.
Imagine if we became secret spies of the truth and any time we saw someone in doubt we had the courage to go up to them and say, “I hear you doubting yourself. How can I support you to move past it?” And the person might say to us, “How do you know that?” And you’d say, “Because I have a become an agent of the heart, and I hear your heart, and it wants to do something. You are blocking it with doubt and I am here to help you open the latch. What can I do? What can I whisper in your ear or shout in your other ear so you’ll hear that you can do it? That if you fall I’ll catch you, that if you quake I’ll hold you, and that if you’re afraid to jump I’ll hold the rope on the other side?”
Imagine if we had that deep understanding and compassion for one another — that we heard each other’s cry and each one of us opened our heart to others to pull them out of that dark. I know that this is the power of our human heart, and I know the magic that comes from extending this heartfelt support. I truly believe that any pain can be alleviated from heart to heart, and that all solutions can be found as we dare to open up to each other with a spirit that recognizes each other’s greatness.
Would you share with me your story of how you found your way out of doubt — or helped someone else find their way out of theirs?
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