When I was a kid, one of my worst fears was that when I got too close to the underneath of my bed, a hand would come out and grab my feet and pull me under. It was not as bad as the idea of crocodiles chewing off my feet if they hung off the edge of the bed, but it was bad enough. Bad enough that even as an adult, it comes to mind when I have to feel for my slippers that got kicked under the bed as children came and went throughout the day.
In my mind this pink boney hand with long sharp nails reaches out slowly and grabs my ankle. Despite how much I fight, it has enough strength to pull me under the tiny gap that separates the floor from the underneath of my bed. I can hear myself screaming, digging my fingers and nails into anything I can to catch some form of grip, scratching and clawing to break free. And then it is dark.
I have never imagined what would happen next, and I don’t think I would delight in doing so. But today I let my imagination take it a little further… what if the hand pulling me under the bed was my own.
A hand of my own
How often do we look ourselves in the mirror, stand proud and tell ourselves it is gonna be a great day. A day of success, achievement and happiness. Leaving the house knowing that when you get back home you are going to be a step or two closer to your goals and dreams even if you stumbled along the way, worthy of a pat on the back and good high five session with your nearest and dearest. Familiar?
I didn’t think so.
A lack of confidence in yourself and your own abilities, is the definition of self-doubt. When we lack that trust within ourselves and we second guess our moves, we strip ourselves of the control we had to manage a situation or opportunity. We are saying to ourselves “Yes I want this…but.” And then of course our minds fill in the blanks and do the rest of the work for us.
When we are filled with self-doubt, we are filled with fear. Fear that the risk we are wanting to take, is bigger than the risk of not taking it at all. And so we doubt, and we don’t take the risk and we adapt our lives and our bodies to continue on the way that we were even if the situation isn’t beneficial, but it is comfortable.
How to say no to self-doubt
When you feel yourself beginning to doubt your abilities and you are bringing yourself down – then your first step is to stop. Interrupting the start of your self-doubt will take a lot of effort, because first you need to be able to recognise that you are putting yourself down. But when you feel the hand under the bed grappling for your ankles, recognise it and interrupt it with the words, “Is this is a doubtful thought that I am having right now?”
And when we have recognised that we don’t trust ourselves, we can step back and consider why. Reflecting on a problem allows for us to figure out what we want to do about it. This can take a lot of courage, and even a little teasing or nastiness from those around you, but it allows for you to be sure that the risk or opportunity you want to take is worth it – that you are worth it.
Don’t encourage the hand under the bed
So often in life we do this thing called compare. And comparing causes us to feel inadequate, or not enough. Which leads to us not trusting our abilities – and we all know where this is going. Self-doubt. Another encouragement for that hand under the bed is perfectionism. Waiting for it to be just perfect before making the move, taking the plunge, facing the commitment. Perfectionism will only leave you disappointed when you realise that the standards we expected to achieve or enjoy were impossible.
Kick it off
I love the words “Not today Satan.” And I really feel this works for that hand under the bed, not today. Today you are reading this post and realising that you self-doubt, and that you can make a change. You see we all have choices, we can undermine ourselves and spend the rest of our lives worrying trying to control every aspect, or we can take action and build confidence. Oh don’t you think it will work out each time, it won’t. But that is part of the road of life. The important part is that you trusted yourself and you took the action needed.
Stumbling along the way hurts and can be humiliating, but you were brave enough and courageous enough and strong enough for trusting your abilities and taking the steps to reach your goals. And when that hand feels like it’s winning, remember that you can stop it right there, step back and start again by interrupting your self-doubt and reflecting.
The world will not end because you doubted yourself, and it will not end if you make mistakes. But your journey will one day end, and I know you want to look back and say… it was a great life. A life of success, achievement and happiness. I left the house knowing that when I got back home I was a step or two closer to my goals and dreams even thought I stumbled along the way, I am worthy of a pat on the back and good high five session.