Use Your Self-Doubt as a Catalyst to Discover Yourself as Presence.
Most of us who struggle with self-doubt think it’s a problem that needs to be fixed.
Self-doubt is a symptom, not the disease.
Like a runny nose, self-doubt arises to get your attention about a deeper imbalance.
In the way you might take Sudafed to dry up your runny nose so you can keep working, instead of shifting your diet and resting, you might be trying to mask self-doubt with quick fixes instead of addressing the deeper imbalance.
The imbalance is that you think you are your inherited identities, and you’re disconnected from the truth of your being, which is presence.
Your self-doubt is a message that it’s time to go deeper and cultivate the direct experience of who you truly are.
Buying a fancy car won’t fix self-doubt.
Landing the perfect partner won’t fix self-doubt.
That six-or-seven-figure salary won’t fix self-doubt.
Nothing you accumulate in the outside world can fix the issue of not knowing who you really are.
When you don’t know who you really are, you default to trying to prop yourself up with accomplishments, other people, and things.
But everything you reach for is a Band-Aid that will eventually fall off.
I’ve experienced firsthand that money doesn’t solve anything besides survival and comfort needs.
Success actually amplifies self-doubt because, unless you do your inner work, success gives self-doubt a larger stage on which to play itself out.
The antidote for self-doubt is to realize that the self that is doubting is not the sum total of who you are.
If you learn how to work with it, instead of trying to kill it, self-doubt can show you the truth of what ails you, which is the belief that you’re separate from everything and everyone around you.
Heal that ailment and you’ll get free. Self-doubt may still chatter in your ear, but it will no longer run your life.
Here are two ways to work with self-doubt that expand your awareness of who you really are as presence:
1. Who Am I?
Set aside 10-20 minutes for this exercise. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and ask yourself, “Who am I?”
Keep asking over and over, “Who am I?,” after every answer your mind spits out — like human being, person, woman, coach, writer, photographer, spiritual person, etc.
When your mind finally gets stumped and can’t think of another answer, notice the quiet space there.
That quiet space is the presence of your true being. It’s who you really are. In that space, doubt doesn’t exist. Just presence exists.
Sit in that space until thoughts start to arise again. Instead of following the thread of the thoughts that arise, practice bringing yourself back to the space.
If you do this exercise daily, connecting to yourself as presence over and over again, self-doubt will shrivel over time like unwatered grass.
Your sense of identification will begin to shift to presence over personality. In presence, you find freedom.
2. Have a Conversation with Self-Doubt.
When your voice of self-doubt arises, turn to face it, in your mind, as if it were a person speaking to you. You can close your eyes for this too.
Say, “Hi, Self-Doubt, thank you for speaking to me today. What do you want for me?”
Wait for an answer. When you get an answer, continue to be curious and ask Self-Doubt more questions as if it were a friend you want to get to know better. Draw out what it wants for you and what scares it.
When practiced over time, this exercise helps you build a relationship with your voice of self-doubt. You may learn some cool things. It usually wants to protect you in some way.
When you learn to interact with all your voices in this way, as friends who love you and want something for you, even if how they show it is shitty, they get less scary and loosen their grip.
You begin to have the direct experience that there’s a deeper part of you, yourself as presence, that’s able to witness and talk with these voices, and choose which ones to highlight and which ones to allow to fade into the background.
Ultimately, for the few of you interested in true freedom, using your self-doubt as a catalyst to discover yourself as presence will change your life. Remember to pull your attention off the shiny things advertisers tell you that you need in order to be whole, and drop into the place within yourself where wholeness resides. This is how you build real self-confidence, brick by brick, one practice exercise at a time.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali coaches women to move from self-doubt and struggle to self-trust and buoyancy: the sweet spot between effort and letting go. She’s also a writer and underwater photographer who has a thing for sharks. You can connect with her through her website, Facebook, or Instagram.