As you’re walking down the street, an idea pops into you’re head and you shout at the top of your lungs: Eureka!
Okay, it’s 2021, so maybe you don’t shout that. But you get the idea.
Perhaps your creative nugget is a business, or a fun story you could write, or an exciting short film you could make.
No matter what it is, having the idea makes you feel good. It’s fun to imagine, to daydream, and to create.
But by the time the walk ends, the idea has become a distant dream. The expansive excitement of creativity wanes and gives way to fear, doubt, and apathy.
I still have debt to pay off. Maybe after that?
What would I do about health insurance?
Who would read a story I wrote? I’m not that good of a writer
I don’t have the time to sit around and edit videos. Time is money!
These thoughts are…Bile. Pure bile.
Sure, the story you write today is unlikely to get published, or that business may not take off. But maybe the next one you write will? Or perhaps that business idea will lead to another one that does work?
Creativity breeds more creativity. We never know where it will take us, but once you start, good things always come. Yet by cutting ourselves off before we can begin, we close ourselves off to so many possibilities and make it impossible to pursue the lives we really want.
If you’re tired of this cycle of doubting yourself and stopping before you begin, then let me tell you how to make a change.
Why Is It So Hard to Pursue Our Dreams?
Everyone has a dream. Whether it’s to be a writer, filmmaker, actor, athlete, mother, father, entrepreneur, traveler, it doesn’t matter. Somewhere deep down, there’s a dream you want to pursue.
These dreams are grounded in our passions, loves, and interests, so, in theory, we should want to pursue them. But this desire rarely converts into action. Most people (myself included for most of my life) stop before we ever get started.
Why do we do this to ourselves? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, yet we all fall for this trap.
Put simply, it’s because most of us have a negative mindset based on self-doubt, yet we are completely unaware of it.
Your mindset is literally how you set your mind. (Get it!)
It’s the base code our brain uses to interpret the world. And because it rests deep in our subconscious, if we don’t take the time to examine the mind, we remain completely ignorant of the lens we’re using to understand reality.
Here’s a lame joke to help illustrate this idea:
Two fish are swimming together. One turns to the other and says, “How’s the water over there?” and the other responds, “what water?”
You see, to a fish, the water is its entire world. It’s embedded in how it perceives its reality, and it’s not until someone points out that the water exists does it even know it’s there.
This is what happens with our mindsets. It becomes a part of how we perceive life, and this means that we are often acting from this space without even realizing we’re doing it. And until we step into awareness, we will continue to filter the information we receive through the lens of our current mindset, strengthening it and reinforcing it as we go.
Fortunately, our mindsets are not fixed. We have a choice.
The Human Computer
This is because the human brain is a computer. But unlike the machines we use for work and play, which can only do what we tell them to do, our human computers can program themselves. We can install our own code, and doing so can dramatically alter how we see ourselves and the world.
However, most of us don’t recognize that we have this power, and so we continue to download the programs the world presents to us, which are inherently negativity and based on self-doubt.
Stepping into your own power as the master of your own code is essential to overcoming self-doubt and making your dreams come true. You just have to know how to do it.
Overcoming the Negativity and Self-Doubt
The antidote to self-doubt is self-belief.
Inherent in self-belief is self-trust.
This means trusting our (creative) abilities and honoring our unique characteristics as truly valuable. Switching from self-doubt to self-belief is actually as simple as making a different choice. Our minds are filled with conflicting thoughts, so all we need to do is choose which ones to follow.
Much, much easier said than done. Why? Because self-doubt is ingrained into nearly every fiber of our mental beings, to the point where we don’t even realize we’re making a choice to buy into the doubt.
For most of us, disbelieving in ourselves feels like the “normal” thing to do.
Recognize The Difference Between Limitations and Doubt
As humans existing in a three-dimensional world, we are born with a sense of our own limitations.
This is not self-doubt.
Self-doubt is not a natural part of the human experience. Instead, we learn it.
Before developing a sense of self, children typically give and love unconditionally, embrace their creativity and imagination, and don’t concern themselves with others’ perceptions.
In other words, we are born confident. We just don’t know it, or how to use it.
As we grow, we learn our limitations. We can’t fly (bummer!), or breathe underwater (unless you use SCUBA!), or clean our rooms with a magic wand (still arguably the best part of Harry Potter!).
Learning this stuff is good. It helps keep us alive and in touch with this reality.
But these are limitations. That’s it. They say nothing about our skills, abilities, or worth.
Instead, they are merely rules we must abide by while existing on this three-dimensional plane. It’s important to recognize and understand this key distinction.
Step Into Your Own Power
We don’t really explain this nuance to kids. So, as we grow, and we see that Taylor is a faster runner, Alex understands math more quickly, and Sammy draws more lifelike images than we do, we also interpret these as limitations. And since we understand limitations as things we simply can’t do, we start putting up walls around our reality.
We close ourselves off to so many possibilities because we buy into the idea that not being as good as someone else at something means we don’t have anything to offer. Each one of us is the “best” at something; we just need to find out what that something is.
Sadly, our world doesn’t give us space to figure out what type of creative we are. Instead, it fills us with fear and doubt, and this pushes us to focus on getting “good” at things that already exist instead of discovering and embracing what we do best.
There are many reasons why this happens. But that’s a conversation for some other time.
To overcome self-doubt, you need to step into your own power as a creator, identify your unique skills and abilities, and own your own difference. But to get to this point, you need to push past all the bile that’s made it into your brain simply because you exist in this topsy-turvy world.
Learn to Spot the Negativity. Hint: It’s EVERYWHERE!
For this process to work, the first step is to spot the negativity that’s coming into your brain from the outside world. You probably already have an idea of where this comes from, but let’s break it down so that we can see just how pervasive this crap is.
The news media pumps us with fear about all the things that can and do go wrong in the world. Bombs in the Middle East, looming inflation, mass shootings, out-of-context virus case numbers, images of violence and fear, and so much more.
It paints a picture of the world as a dangerous, chaotic place dominated by scarcity. But this isn’t true. When you get out into the world and compare how a place is with how the media portrays it, you see that there’s a lot more harmony on Earth than we realize, and that we actually live on an abundant planet where there is more than enough to go around.
The movies and television we watch also don’t help. Even if they aren’t explicitly negative, this content reinforces mainstream societal norms.
They tell us what happiness is, what success looks like, what love is supposed to be, what makes life worth living. These messages are subtle, but they are there, programming our minds and constructing our mindsets.
Our entire economy is based on excess. It’s driven by people buying new clothes every season, new phones every two years, new gadgets, new toys, new anything. It doesn’t matter if that thing serves a real purpose. All that matters is that it sells.
To support this flawed system, the advertising industry plays into our own fears and doubts. It shells us with images and ideas that you aren’t good enough, but if you buy this thing or that, you will be. It’s only interest is in raising sales, and this is an excellent way to do it.
As if all of this weren’t enough, we also send messages of self-doubt to one another. Confidence is not “cool” in our society. But what is “cool” is putting yourself down, making fun of yourself, and doubting your abilities.
Pay attention to how you communicate with your friends, and to the types of things you say about other people.
When you stop for a moment, you realize there is so much judgement going on in our day-to-day communication.
Sure, it’s good to laugh at yourself, and mockery and sarcasm have their place. But at what cost?
Unfortunately, a lot of this happens when we’re young and don’t really understand what’s happening. This embeds these notions into our young minds, and then as we grow, we filter information to fit these ideas, reinforcing our own negative mindsets.
We all experience trauma as kids. Whether it’s the trauma of being left alone by your parents for the first time at school, an abusive caregiver, a death, or something else, trauma plays a pivotal role in how we see the world.
This is problematic in its own right, but when we talk about trauma, it’s important to remember that as children we tend to interpret this trauma personally. We got left behind because we weren’t loved; we got abused because we weren’t good enough; that person was “taken” from us when they died.
Left unresolved, this trauma will continue to shape our mindset in a negative way, guiding our decisions and charting the course of our lives for us. In our society, we like to label different types of trauma as more or less serious than others, and this discourages people who didn’t lose parents or get abused from exploring their own trauma.
But it’s there, in some form or another, and choosing not to look at it is simply limiting yourself and making it more difficult for you to crush self-doubt and achieve your dreams.
We grade children from an early age for pretty much no reason (except to fulfill federal requirements and secure funding, a topic for another day), yet this behavior has lasting impacts.
A friend once told me that they gave up on writing because they got a B+ on a prompt in elementary school. They took that as a sign that they weren’t that good at writing.
This is just one example, but this person is not alone. Our society idolizes people who are the “best.” Athletes. Actors. Entrepreneurs. Influencers. If you make it to the “top,” then you’re cool. Everyone else is just trying to be like you.
Therefore, what do we expect people to think when we assign a letter to their work that says, “you’re slightly less than ‘the best?’”
Our education system does more harm than this, but this is a complicated topic that deserves special attention so that we can appreciate the nuances. Check out my post on it here and join the conversation!
See the Implicit Negativity
Perhaps at this point, you’re saying something like:
Ads don’t work on me!
I only read the news to stay informed.
My education was great!
Perhaps, but I used to also say all these things. Yet I spent years mired in self-doubt.
Because the negativity of our society seeps into our minds on a subconscious level.
Every bit of external stimuli we receive from the world makes its way into our brain. Proteins literally fold into our brain structure every time we consume a piece of information. So, when you read the news, watch a show, or interact with others, this negativity infiltrates the mind.
What this means is that unless you train yourself to sift out this negativity, it’s going to continue to influence your mindset, no matter what you are thinking on a conscious level.
Train the Mind to Make Better Choices
One way to fix this is to just avoid society altogether. Run and hide in a cave. Protect yourself from the onslaught of negativity!
But that’s not life.
A much better solution is to meditate regularly. I mean every day.
Our American society, as a whole, is pretty clueless about what meditation is and why people do it. We want it to be quick-fix for stress and anxiety, a tool we can use to be more productive and get more out of life.
Meditation is relaxing, sure. And it can help you be more productive. But these should not be the “goals” of meditation.
In fact, one cannot place expectations on meditation because it is not an activity but rather a way of life. It’s the practice of observing reality as it is, a skill that, once learned, allows us to make decisions from a position of awareness and not ignorance.
It’s a technique we must work at over time, in a steady and committed way, so that we can reap it’s full benefits.
Commit to Meditation by Accepting This Truth
Meditation is hard.
That’s the truth. And it’s hard for a lot of reasons.
First, learning to sit with our chaotic minds is not easy. The number one function of the mind is to generate thoughts, and if you’ve never meditated before, you’re trained to engage with and follow as many thoughts as you can.
I can’t tell you how many people have told me they don’t like meditating because they can’t sit still. But learning how to sit still is the whole damn point!
It’s like saying they don’t like reading because they don’t know how.
However, once you learn to sit still, things don’t get easier. All that negativity that was buried deep in your mind starts bubbling to the surface.
Those who make it past this point often want to give up shortly thereafter. This is because the mind, programmed for negativity and self-doubt, is a mean bastard. Most of what it says is insulting if not downright devastating.
You’re not good enough.
Who are you?
When things go wrong, you’ll wind up on the street.
Everything is meaningless anyway, so why even try?
When you meditate, the background noise of your mind leaps to the foreground, and this often makes things worse and causes people to give up, saying “I thought this was supposed to make me feel better!”
Here’s What Happens if You Commit to Meditation!
If you make it through these difficult times, what comes next is pretty good. Really all that happens is that you raise your own awareness. Though this is no small feat.
Being more aware of yourself and your mind allows you to hear what’s actually going on in the mind. You can spot when the self-doubting mind is rearing its head, and you can disassociate with these thoughts and engage with other ones that are more positive and productive.
From here, you can change habits or introduce new ones. . You can ignore the bile entering our heads from the outside world and choose to focus on what drives and inspires you, making it possible for you to step into your own power and start taking action towards achieving your dreams.
And once you start taking consistent action, the rest is already written.
Getting Started With Meditation
If you’re new to meditation, the first thing you need to do is figure out which type of meditation is right for you. There are many different meditation techniques.
All of them teach the same skills, they just go about it in different ways. Experiment with a few different types, and don’t be afraid to mix and match until you find something that works for you.
From there, consider reaching out to a mediation coach. To be clear, this person is not a teacher. No one can really teach you how to meditate. That you must do for yourself.
Instead, a coach can help keep you accountable and also help you work through the challenges that are bound to arise once you commit to a consistent practice.
I offer mediation coaching on a donation basis. I shouldn’t feel guilty charging for this, but I do. Yet I do need to eat in this world. So, if you find working with me to be helpful, or if you find the content on this blog useful, please consider making a contribution that fits your budget.
In the end, I don’t do this for the money but rather because I truly believe in this stuff and I want more people to meditate so that we can start making this world a better place. Get in touch today and schedule your first session.
So there you have it. Self-doubt explained and conquered. Of course, this is a never-ending, difficult journey. We must support one another wherever we can. Then, little by little, we can reset this reality and restore peace and harmony to our society and world.