Have you ever felt paralyzed by self-doubt?

Held back by the thoughts in your head? 

I totally have.

I’d always seen these moments of self-doubt — these thoughts — as bullies. They told me “No.” They told me “Don’t even try.” They teased me about my failures. I would start feeling paralyzed by these thoughts, doing my best to snuff them out or just make them shut up, but the thoughts were relentless. No matter what I did, I couldn’t make the doubts stop. Even trying to prove them wrong was pointless!

So instead of exhausting myself trying to make them go away, I decided to do something radical. I decided to listen to them.

In a quiet meditation, I sat and let my mind wander through all the times I’ve put myself / my life / my goals on hold because of the “you can’ts” floating around in my head. I reflected. I started to call the thoughts of self-doubt back. I actually wanted to re-hear them. I wanted to listen. And as I did, the tone of the doubt changed entirely.

Sitting in meditation, these thoughts didn’t sound like bullies at all. The perceived shouts of “NO!” elaborated to say “That sounds scary…” Instead of “Stop! You failed at that before!,” I could hear a genuine question: “Are you sure? Will you be ok if it fails again?” My doubts were trying to get my attention, yes; but not because they wanted me to press pause on my life or on my dreams. They were trying to get my attention the only way they knew how in the moment: by shouting. But taking the time to listen to them started to change my perspective on self-doubt completely. 

What if self-doubt never meant to stop us? What if self-doubt just comes up to ask questions that help us get to know ourselves more deeply? What if self-doubt really, genuinely wants an answer?

With that perspective, is self-doubt really even doubt at all? If it calls us to go forward, to find what we really want, to be sure in ourselves and our decisions — it sounds like self-doubt (when we truly take the time to listen to it) may actually be a quiet form of self-encouragement. 

Inspired by self-doubt, my personal focus over the next week is on self-encouragement. I want to do one thing every day to encourage myself to move forward in life. Move forward in my life. For you, whether you decide to take on this challenge for yourself or not, I hope your perspective on self-doubt starts to shift. I hope you start to move forward in your own life — in your own way — unparalyzed by thought-bullies. And I hope you find self-encouragement in the most unexpected places.

Blog written with love by Christina Dunlap: Spiritual Counselor & Healing Coach. Check out her personal website at www.christinamarie.com.

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