Print Posted on 05/02/2017 in Anxiety

"Does Self Doubt Hold You Back From The Future You Want? "

“The impossible is impossible only because self doubt has made it so 

and in accepting that 

the impossible is possible.”


“There is no such thing as a self doubting person,

only people who were taught to doubt themselves: 

through psychotherapy the origins may be exposed and the lesson unlearned”

Bérnard Douglas, MA

Living entails adapting, and assimilating to environments within which my predominant self-image is reflected in how others experience and see me.  As we grow into our lives we may feel lost, not in touch with ‘my self’.  We may want to strive to become a closer approximation of our authentic self but self doubt tells us that our desire is no more than an inauthentic grasp for uniqueness in a life where sameness and conformity are the cornerstones of belonging. As such self-doubt protects us from what we fear would otherwise result in our isolation, separation and marginalization from our community.

  • Martin Buber suggests that “collectivity, or institutionalized social relations do not allow for uniquely transforming experiences to occur” (Kramer, Kenneth (2003). Martin Buber's I and Thou: Practicing Living Dialogue. Costa Mesa: Paulist Press). 

It stands to reason then that someone who wants something which they intuitively know is withheld from them, would in the face of anticipated deprivation elect not to undertake a challenge.  An example of this may be individuating from one’s family of origin; the fear of loosing that anchor (good or bad) in the world is too overwhelming.  Self doubt facilitates a retreat from the opportunities and projected disappointment, it protects the familial ‘ego’ by assuming fault and failure and continued membership in the family is often perceived as a grace and not neglect.  (This not to presume villifciation of groups or family systems but rather to be curious about one's choices and how one participates within those frames.)

  • Ruth A. Baer, University of Kentucky “Mindfulness involves intentionally bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment.”  (American Psychological Association, Clinical Psychology: Science And Practice, Vol. 10 N2, 125–143,Summer 2003) 
  • Teasdale et al. “the nonjudgmental, decentered view of one’s thoughts encouraged by mindfulness may interfere with ruminative patterns” (Ibid, P.129).
  • “…Traditional cognitive-behavioral procedures usually have a clear goal, such as to change a behavior or thinking pattern. In contrast, mindfulness meditation is practiced with a seemingly paradoxical attitude of nonstriving.  That is, although a task is prescribed (e.g., sit still, close your eyes, and pay attention), no specific goal is adopted.  Participants are not to strive to relax, reduce their pain, or change their thoughts or emotions, although they may have sought treatment for these purposes.  They are simply to observe whatever is happening in each moment without judging it…although the practice of mindfulness generally involves acceptance of current reality, rather than systematic attempts to change reality, individuals who practice these skills may experience reductions in a variety of symptoms” (Ibid, P. 130-131). 

Mindful Cognitive tool: Check your pulse (on your phone or by another means), write down what was really happening in the actual moment (what was objectively happening), and write spontaneous feeling words (hurt, angry, sad, rejected, scared etc.) and/or physical words (nauseous, tired, anxious, hyper-vigilant, hungry, tense, dizzy).  With every written word breathe deeply and slowly, each breath slower than the previous one.  As you feel the intensity of the moment pass recheck your pulse, as you recheck breathe deliberately slower and make your pulse slow further and level out.  Be aware of what you feel, and what your physical sensations are.  Be curious and let it go.

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