50 ways to leave your… self-doubt

hedgehog walking the tight rope

The famous Paul Simon song was called “Fifty ways to leave your lover” and since you’re catching me in a mischievous mood, dear Reader, I’d like to borrow the lyrics to cheer you up for when/if you or a loved one might be getting trapped in self-doubt.


“The problem is all inside your head
She said to me
The answer is easy if you
Take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle
To be free
There must be fifty ways
To leave your …”

(Paul Simon)

So here they are, in no particular order, my cheeky nudges to leave self-doubt behind.

Each time.

Print them out and stick them in your favourite places or cut up as a deck of cards to draw from at random. Whatever helps you remember the deeper, kinder truth about you and life.

1. Moments of self-doubt are a temporary and innocent form of confusion.

People learn to take their conclusions oh so seriously, even to doubt themselves about self-doubt! But if you don’t ruminate on them, all worried thoughts pass by themselves.

Sooner or later, you’ll go to sleep or have ice cream or go to help a friend and what seemed devastating will depart.

Unless you choose to ruminate on it, that is.

A great thing I’m learning these days is that I don’t have to entertain crushing thoughts. It’s strange but they don’t linger if you don’t feed them with attention.

2. Constant confidence or certainty is not only a myth, it’s also dangerous.

Think of the fear and confusion that resulted from human “certainty” that the earth is flat or that blond hair and blue eyes are signs of superiority. Compared to that, self-doubt is humane and not inferior an option.

Plus, you can learn to moderate its volume as well.

3. Anything you are certain of today can prove to be not so tomorrow.

To paraphrase the famous line: relax, nothing is certain or forever! What if this moment, your body, heart and mind in this moment were all that you need to feel whole and at home? The answer is not outside to chase but in you to see.

4. Feeling doubtful? Enjoy it as the first, not the last word on what’s true about you!

Psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski saw temporary, intense discomfort of the psyche as a pre-condition to breakthrough in individual development.

It’s known as “positive disintegration” and although this might not be mass media material, you may know it already in your bones. Trust life! It’s well designed.

5. As a toddler learning to walk, we experience falling over with frustration and disappointment.

From the vantage point of a sky-diver, we know flying is impossible without it. So is walking and any new discovery or adventure.  Doubt away but it’s okay.

6. Can you really see self-doubt as a good thing?

Yes, because you CAN choose not to condemn this feeling too soon as if your anxious conclusion about it was a cast-iron fact.

Fear may well make it look that way but you still have a choice to receive your self-doubt with kindness.

What one reminder can you set in place right away to respond to self-doubt with compassion?

I have on my desk a note to self saying “Stuckness accepted becomes stillness. In stillness, all answers lie.”

7. “It’s no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society”, said Jiddu Krishnamurti.

We live in the society that often confuses looking “good”, confident, etc. with contributing good to life. Your choices may not look “cool” to casual judger but essence and human care is better than presentation any day!

8. What if your self-doubt is a start of kinder, better way of working and relating?

Frederic Laloux”s book and talk called “Reinventing Organizations” shows how humans always keep evolving in how we live, work and relate.

The newest ways of thinking and living that are already in well functioning workplaces and communities are the most beautiful and effective yet!

It would be a shame to doubt yourself for not succeeding in the dog-eat-dog culture when you can use your time to learn about the win-win paradigm Laloux has discovered and described.  This is a must-know material for 2016!

9. Your everyday self-doubt is understandable.

Chances are that when you were a child, many people would have seen your naturally heightened sensitivity as a weakness, and not the healthy way of being it is.

Today, the prevailing culture still doesn’t know about it or how to support it.

It’s not a measure of health to stop at that, of course, but you don’t have to see yourself as broken anymore either.

You are free to catch up with learning about how you work and love best.

What is your self-doubt revealing about things that matter to you most? Find a way to connect with THOSE qualities!!!

10. Self-doubt is a verbal torture. 

If you need a first-aid respite from self-doubting thoughts, there’re many practices devised to absorb your nervous system’s attention away from them.

What I’ve noticed they have in common is directing energy away from the head and anxious “conclusions” and towards deeper layers of self. Those can be the heart, belly or feet and they seem to act as channels to your deeper wisdom and grounding.

From movement, to mantras, through conscious pacing of the breath, singing or pressure points, the various techniques aim to connect you with something deeper and steadier in the moment.

And the most fascinating thing is that the steadier, wiser aspect of you/life is always there!

The techniques are just well trodden routes to that place discovered and recommended by other people.

In any given individual, idiosyncratic moment in your life, it may not be doable to apply a technique when you most need it. AND, you can use your own inner door to deeper peace, when you need it. It’s part of your make-up and your birthright, not something you’ve got to buy from “experts”.

The door is there, under words/thoughts and opens by sincere wish to connect.

11. Calm exterior may look confident but it’s not necessarily so.

It may be masked fear or repressed aliveness or a habit of niceness that Marshall Rosenberg referred to as being “a nice, dead person”.

Don’t compare yourself to Muggles 😉

12. Intense thoughts or feelings are not a sign of being weak.

Nor of lacking self-esteem or being broken. Those are only judgements, not facts.

They may be common judgements but it helps to remember that other people’s opinions about you are truly none of your business.

There’s a world of difference between an opinion and a fact (or between an observation and an interpretation, as NVC-ers like to refer to these two). The difference is heaven and hell and so well worth remembering.

13. When something is not working, the primitive response is to judge or blame.

The newest wisdom we have to guide us at such times is to acknowledge the bother but use time on solutions, not persecution. When what’s “not working” is you, this means willingness to drop “what’s wrong?” and ask “what’s needed?” instead.

14. Self-doubt is a sign that you’ve got zapped by the game of “shoulds”.

Have you been hypnotised by “shoulds” to the point of not noticing and neglecting what you’re needing?

Forget the social facade and return to life!

What are you most needing in this moment?

Let yourself be with that until an idea comes for how to connect with that state.

15. Your awful faults or your beautiful needs? 

Choose your lense with care as it affects everything!
16. You can want who you are!

17. You don’t know all about it yet.

18. Every new moment can show you you better.

19. Someone else looks better? So what?

20. Feeling lonely? Spend time with your lovely self!

21. Feeling sad? Cry away. That’s what tears are for.

22. Feeling confused? Speak your intention out loud.

23. Overwhelmed? Close your eyes. Breathe. Be kind.

24. Got angry? What’s a wiser way to protect things?

25. Made a mistake? What’s the lesson from it?

26. Had a small win? Take a moment to feel it, big!

27. Deluge of detail? Zoom out for a bird’s eye view.

28. Feeling stupid? Ask for help to think out loud.

29. Must try harder? Find a better teacher.

30. Too sensitive? Who is to be the judge of that?

31. Not sensitive enough? Show them how it’s done.

32. They don’t understand? It matters that YOU do!

33. Feeling ugly? What would a good FRIEND say to that?

34. Low self-esteem? Forget psychology mags. Go and play a little.

35. Something’s ending? Imagine a happy hindsight.

36. She said it grieves me so to see you in such pain
      I wish there was something I could do
      To make you smile again

37. I said I appreciate that
      And would you please explain
      About the fifty ways

38. You Just slip out the back, Jack

39. Make a new plan, Stan

40. You don’t need to be coy, Roy

41. Just get yourself free

42. Hop on the bus, Gus

43. You don’t need to discuss much

44. Just drop off the key, Lee

45. And get yourself free

46. Get yourself free.

47. Get yourself free.

48. Get yourself free.

49. Again and again.

50. You ARE free!