Apr 6, 2018

Self-Doubt

It is amazing how much self-doubt creeps in whenever I start to believe in achieving the goals that I set out for myself. I speak the self-doubt out loud. "I'm applying for a Masters in Occupational Therapy, but it's really competitive," or "I'm racing OABI for the third time, yea I've said I want to win, but it's a really hard race and I've never placed on the podium." However, perhaps louder, I speak this self-doubt to myself. I'll be a social media manager for a political campaign if I don't get into the Masters program, or When I don't win OABI I'll be able to share how much I learned about myself and it will still be meaningful.

It is strange that telling others, don't worry, I know this probably won't work out. I know my dreams are too lofty, I know I'll fail; somehow feels safer than just declaring my dreams and telling people the things that I am working on. But it is more damning to say that to myself as well. To prepare myself to fail, to get my mind ready for heartbreak. How much hope is lost in those moments, how much am I limited myself if I can't even dare to dream?

Don't get me wrong, I dream, big and often. But I also play out the worst case scenario, just in case. It is totally crazy, there are so many worst case scenarios. What a waste of imagination. But this relationship, this goal, this career might not work out, so let's think about what you would do if he left, if I failed, if the career wasn't a good fit. Instead of dreaming up all the things that could go right I have spent so much of my life dreaming up the way that things could go wrong. At first glance, no big deal, change the way you think, right? Not that easy. It's is an ingrained habit that is more than thoughts. Some days it grows into a monster and can manifest as an overall horrible attitude towards the world.

So of course all of these patterns came to a head when my first blog post went live. It was great to get all of the support and encouragement, but with each new like, each new comment a little voice in the back of my head started speaking up. That self-doubt. Your competitors will see this. It's all great for people on social media to hear about your goals but what about the people that are actually there on race day. Races are challenging enough, scary enough, you're going to add this pressure to it?

This was amplified by the fact that I was in immense pain in my thoracic spine. I have this area between my shoulder blades that sometimes can feel a little bit sensitive, but last week it was worse than it has ever been. I've been adding a lot of strength to my shoulders and haven't been as good about stretching as I should be. Sure I do yoga everyday and I stretch it then, but I haven't spent the dedicated time before and after every work out to stretch my shoulders and upper back. All Saturday I felt like I was on the verge of throwing my upper back out. I couldn't stop thinking about how I had just declared I would be doing this big race and I didn't even know if I would be able to complete it.

This is the work. Awareness of my limiting beliefs and habits is the first step, the next step is starting to catch them before they turn into a long story. Usually at first I catch them about 15 minutes in, Oh shit, I just spent way too much time thinking about how I'll explain loosing OABI. Then, overtime eventually I catch myself just a few minutes into it, Oops, I'm fantasizing about failing again, [insert replacement succeeding fantasy here]. This process is really never ending. It's helped me through anger, anxiety, depression, and is obviously still very relevant to me today. Through this slow shift in perspective, my goal is to invite more hope into my life. Because honestly what is the worst case scenario if you dream big and fail? Failure? I don't think anything can truly be a failure if we learn and grow along the way.