Self Doubt

      This one came to mind last week, when in conversation with J about a logo design for Sole Sister on the Run, she said when she thinks of me she sees strength, confidence and determination.  And, for a moment, when I read that, I thought that girl was crazy.  I asked other friends like R and my husband… they seem to believe the same thing.  Seriously.  I apparently to others appear confident, strong, and determined.  Then why some days, do I feel weak, shy and unfocused?  Apparently I am not the only one that feels this way, based on some comments on this blog, and a fellow blogger posting this week about suffering from “Imposter Syndrome” check out The Wannabe Athlete, great post!!
The “I am my own worst critic” line, applies here.  I have a list of accomplishments I have done just in this past year that is always in my day planner.  I look at them often to remind me of how I have succeeded.  Yet, I still doubt myself often.  When back in school for my masters I often felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, and my papers were jibberish (I graduated with a 4.0 so apparently, I knew something).  I even doubt my abilities at work.  My husband thinks I am ridiculous with this… but, honestly, there are days I feel like a fraud.  I feel so undereducated, so lacking in knowledge and experience that I am afraid they will realize how useless I am and send me on my way.  I often feel like my ideas will pale in comparison to the brilliance of others on my team.  I have spent most of my life working on confidence and self-improvement.  Yet, pretty regularly, self doubt creeps in.  I even doubt my abilities on running…  I insist to myself I can’t run a certain distance, or certain pace… on tough mental days, I can talk myself out of pushing farther easily. Although now, my running coach takes great joy in kicking this self doubt out of me weekly, as she just pushed me to complete a 5k on Wednesday in 29:28, previously, my best time was 31 and change in October.  And, honestly, on Wednesday, I was on cloud nine.  I felt amazing (even when I felt like puking the last 0.10 miles). I will thank her again here, thank you Charlene, thank you for not letting me listen to the little voice in my head that says I’m not ready!!
I doubt what I am capable of physically and mentally.  I am human.  There are days I don’t feel good enough, smart enough, kind enough, strong enough, and so on.  There are days I have to force myself to find positives, I will re-read my list of accomplishments over and over and still not feel right.  So how is it everyone else sees this amazing smart, strong and confident woman?  Do I play the part well, or am I really that person?  Am I really the strong runner, intelligent person, hard worker, caring friend and wife?  If I am, why can I not always see this?  I am happy to report these days are less frequent the stronger I become physically.  When I accomplish a goal, I feel like I deserve it, that I worked hard to obtain it.  When I see the letters M.Ed. behind my name at work, more days than not, I believe I earned them.  When I look at the life I have, a loving husband, good family, amazing and supportive friends, two great dogs, a house, a career I love, a strong and healthy body…. I know that it is because I worked for and achieved these things.  And, little by little, that self-doubt goes back into the little box it belongs in.  It will still creep out at times, but, it is something I need to learn to ignore. 
A friend discussed negative self-talk, which goes with self doubt…. So, here are some thoughts on this as well.  Perhaps to change our outlooks towards the positive, we have to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses.  We have to list our accomplishments, not as bragging, but as accomplishments.  Pride in our achievements is not a bad thing.  So, we need to have a handy list of our accomplishments, personal, professional, athletic, whatever.  Have them somewhere you can easily look at them.  Remember the concept of a swear jar?  Perhaps we need to reinstate that concept for our doubting and negative self thoughts.  Every negative thought or self doubt obsession, we put a dollar in a jar and a frowny face on the calendar.  When we go a week without a frown, we can take that money and reward ourselves with something to celebrate ourselves.  Or perhaps the age old writing assignment to get our heads back on track:  for every negative thought, self doubt we catch, we have to right TWO positive things.  It is time to retrain the brain to think differently.   
As women, I think we often get caught up in supporting and caring for everyone around us and we end up neglecting ourselves.  For some reason, we were taught that being proud of who we are and what we have accomplished is arrogant.  Well, sure, if we run around screaming, I am better than you…. But to say, I worked hard and with that: got a 4.0, landed the dream job, lost weight, etc, etc…. that is okay, and we need to remind ourselves of that.   So, be strong, be your beautiful self, celebrate who you are and all you have accomplished in your life.  Love yourself. 
If you are going to doubt something, doubt your limits.  ~Don Ward