Have you ever found yourself wishing you could accomplish one of your goals—wanting to put yourself out there—but something holds you back? You try. You get everything ready to launch—then you balk. Now isn’t the right time. You’re not ready. Maybe you’ll just push this goal back another month or two…
In other words, have you ever found yourself stopped by self-doubt?
Doubt is a powerful fear, and it’s very successful at keeping us from our goals. It tells us our current realities are our only realities; there is no chance at changing.
Yeah, self-doubt is a jerk.
I have a couple of friends who know what it’s like to struggle with self-doubt, but they also know how to overcome it. Here’s what they have to say about it…
Right from the start of her story, Ingrid Blackburn (from Ingrid’s Guilt) is riddled with self-doubt. She’s a young, 16-year-old witch living in Puritan America. I can’t really blame her for being as afraid as she is, but Ingrid allows her self-doubt so much control, everyone walks all over her. She doesn’t trust or believe in herself because she lives in a community that condemns witchcraft.
Ingrid has moments where she wants to be free to practice magic and live away from the Puritans, but she doubts her ability to do this on her own, because of her sex, and believes she is supposed to be afraid because she is powerless:
Luckily, Ingrid has a best friend who doesn’t have a self-doubt problem and teaches Ingrid that it’s okay to go against the status-quo. Thankful’s rebellion of Puritan tradition encourages Ingrid to break out of her shell. But even when Thankful discovers a magical object in a widow’s house, Ingrid can’t bring herself to tell Thankful what the object really is. Her fear that Thankful will abandon her as soon as she knows the truth about Ingrid is too much for Ingrid.
So how did Ingrid finally overcome her self-doubt?
She’s exposed for who she really is, and at that moment, there’s no turning back. Now, I’m not saying you have to have someone spill all your secrets online to overcome your own doubts, but what you can do is leap—leap regardless of your fear.
- Share a poem online
- Enter a fiction writing contest
- Launch a blog
- Enroll in college
- Sign up for an online course
Put yourself out there. Once you do, you will have overcome that initial fear. Once you’ve enrolled in a course, for example, the fear of enrolling is gone. It’s too late. You already did it. As soon as you share your first poem or story online, you’ve also overcome that fear.
And if you’re wondering how the town reacts when they learn the truth about Ingrid, you can download the entire book for free in the Reader Library.
Lack of Experience
You don’t have to be a teenager to struggle with self-doubt. Officer Louis Kelly knows all about that. In Warlock Murders (no longer available for purchase), Kelly discovers that a murder he’s investigation has been committed by a warlock. Kelly soon partners with a vellia named Rend who is hunting this warlock. Naturally, Rend knows a lot more about warlocks that Kelly does, and at first, his lack of knowledge paralyzes Kelly. He doubts his ability to help Rend, and makes plenty of mistakes that he believes prove he’s not good enough—he should just give up.
It takes the length of the series (three books) for Kelly to overcome his self-doubt, but by the third book, The Last of the Warlocks (not available for purchase at this time), Kelly knows what he’s doing. Yeah, there’s this jerk named Elwin who doesn’t think a human like Kelly should have any business hunting warlocks, but Kelly pushes these doubts aside—Finally!
Well, he had to learn. And there wasn’t a book on how to kill warlocks, so most of Kelly’s learning was by hands-on, trial and error experience. Sometimes, we just have to get out there and learn and experience too.
When I first started writing, I was positive I was the worst writer. I hid most of what I wrote. Sure, what I wrote ten years ago isn’t as good as what I’m writing now, but that’s only thanks to everything I’ve learned and the hundreds of thousands (probably a couple million at this point) words I’ve written in that ten-year period. And ten years from now, I’ll be a better writer than I am today.
So if a lack of knowledge or experience is standing in your way, learn the skills you lack and gain the experience you want.
From talking with other creatives, I've found fear and the lack of experience are enough to paralyze us from trying new things. And I get that. It's tough to create something and share it with the world. It's terrifying to take a leap. But I also know we can't grow and improve unless we do step off the cliff that's holding us back.
Are you currently struggling with self-doubt or fear? Then let's chat about that! Leave a comment or email me. I know from experience working through your doubts is liberating. And you deserve that.