“One thing stood out for me – it was the language of being able to “beat the self doubt monster”… Which made me think about ahimsa. And about how my self-doubt monsters are doing their best to save me – from failure or embarrassment or some other thing they’re afraid of. And that I don’t need to beat them so much as befriend them, and help them get better oriented to the world I actually live in. They often have a very narrow and skewed view… but they seem willing to soften and reconsider when treated with respect and kindness… I think for me there is something about faith in love: that love matters, that love changes things… even the self-doubt monsters.”
I’ve often thought this myself, and still see in my own practice that a certain softening towards my fears and doubts can be really helpful. No good comes from adding more contraction, so I’m learning not to ‘fight the fear’. I totally agree with Jemma that ‘beating’ our doubts and fears, in the sense of actually hitting them, would really just be a form of violence to ourselves.
When I wrote about ‘beating’ the self-doubt monsters I meant like in a race, not with a stick. It was about moving fast enough into the space of faith to evade their sticky grip.
Because I’m increasingly seeing that no good comes from entertaining the mean voices either. It’s often useful to notice them, because what we don’t notice is more often than not still affecting us. But it’s really not that useful to pay them much attention.
This is quite a radical shift for me. I have always been very committed to shadow work, and I remain so. I’m not suggesting that we ignore or avoid the darker side of our own stuff. But I’m really interested to notice that some of the teachers I admire the most have very little time for the critical voices in their heads. They are very quick to dismiss them as entirely without any value.
You may remember in that previous post that Christina Baldwin said that the work to be done at this moment in time is far too important to indulge our own doubts and fears. It’s time to get on with the work.
That really rang a bell in my head. Looking back on my life that simple sentiment has probably been the single biggest motivator and the most reliable route to get unentangled from my fear. Remembering that the work to be done is bigger than I think I am.
Cheri said that her response, when an opportunity comes along and the fearful voices start to tell her she’s not worthy of it, is to totally ignore them and instead say to God: “Okay, if this is what you have for me, I accept.”
You may not believe in God. But the same principle of acceptance can be applied to your sense of the bigger work that is currently being done in the world today. You might being saying yes to God, or you might be saying yes to the greater whole that is made up of all of us working for good in the world – as Christina Baldwin suggested.
Then today, Jen Louden told me not to believe the mean voices:
The only difference between those that do and those that don’t (love, create, show up, connect), is those that do don’t believe the mean voices. They have those voices too and they simply don’t believe them.
Here’s where this is all going, or coming from, or perhaps just where it’s sitting right now: I have a book nearly written. It’s getting close enough that the reality that it may actually be published has started to hit me. This seems to have acted as an irresistible call to action for the voices of fear and self-doubt in my head. They are in full cry.
I could spend some time in their company, soften towards them, see what they have to tell me (and, truth be told, I did a good bit of that yesterday). But I can also ignore them, and trust that this work is the work I’m called to do right now. This story is the story I’m called to tell right now. I may not be as good at any of this (writing, teaching, being a good person) as I think other people might be, but I can do my best.
Today, I think that’s going to be my path.
I’m just watching and learning as I go. I don’t pretend to have it all worked out (or any of it for that matter) I’m just paying attention to what the wise ones are saying, and trying it all out in my own life. I was grateful for Jemma’s comment because it gave me pause, made me ask again ‘Is this true? Is this as true as it can possibly be?’ and, eventually, led to this post. So please, join the conversation. Let me know what you think about the value, or not, of listening to our fears.