There are days when I feel like I’m all that. The best thing since sliced bread, the cat’s pajamas, the bee’s knees.
Then there are days like today. Where I don’t feel like I can accomplish anything. At all. Ever again.
Days where I find myself in that place where everything hurts and doubt has crept in.
Doubt. My worst enemy.
I know I’m not the only one who experiences down days. Not by a long shot. But I never see it on anyone’s face, hear it in their voice or read it in their eyes. I hear, see and read it in my own. It makes me wonder if others can detect it in me.
Of all the negative emotions, I detest doubt the most of all. Because doubt is a killer of all things vital. It kills confidence faster than you can say “do it”, it kills dreams faster than you can finish dreaming them, and it kills creativity before it gets out of the gate. And that’s just doubt warming up.
The thing about doubt is that I’m not sure it ever really leaves us. Any of us.
Rather, it hovers in the background, in the dark corners of our soul. Ever present, it waits for a chink in the armor of our self-esteem.
And when it sees it … it pours forth.
Years of self-employment have taught me that when this happens, it is the time to rally. To be kind, patient and forgiving to myself. But most importantly, to be my own best friend, my personal cheerleader. All difficult things to do when you find yourself in a moment of overwhelming doubt.
But I do it. Because I have no choice.
I’ve learned that when you doubt yourself, you simply cannot win. Anything. Doubt robs you of the ability to be what you were put here on this earth to be. It’s really that simple.
I received a letter yesterday from a continuing client and friend. In it, she praised my confidence, ability, strength and fearlessness. She shared that I intimidated her with my ability to get things done and earn a living as a writer. It was a disturbingly lovely letter.
The truth is, I get that assessment a LOT. I’m not sure why people want to give credit and accolades to someone who simply puts one foot in front of the other and heads forward.
I want to say this out loud: I often find myself fearful, overwhelmed, and sometimes paralyzed in my action plan. No lie. Doubt has that effect on me.
Being overwhelmed by life and one’s own expectations is something I’ve come to believe is “normal”. Once I adopted that mindset, things were easier to get through. It’s not just me. It’s not just you. It’s all of us.
My advice to her (and you) is this: just keep moving forward. The pace doesn’t matter a wit. We disappoint ourselves because we set goals set in time. It would be lovely if life didn’t get in the way. But it does.
So, as long as I’m crawling, inching, galloping or just plotting towards my goals, I know that I’ll get there … eventually.
And “eventually” is a hell of a lot better than never!
mel glenn - Dear Tammy,
I like your courage in always putting one foot forward, not matter if you go fast or slow – the goal is always progress, but I agree, self-doubt is the anchor that drags you to a complete stop. There are things always to doubt, mostly theological, but in the fast paced world, you have to take your best shot No0 doubt about that..
Tana Bevan - A Chinese person supposedly said, “Don’t be afraid of going slowly, be afraid of standing still.”
As for doubt being a killer, agreed. However, Hope is its antithesis. So long as you are moving forward (as slow as it might be) Hope is with you.
Not a lot to hang onto. But sometimes it’s all there is.
Thank you Tammy for putting into words that which many feel.
Melanie - You know what, Tammy? I think doubt is worse than fear. And that’s saying a mouthful!
Thank you for this wonderful chunk of honesty. I doubt there’s a soul out there who’s never doubted themselves.
I often refer to doubting as “second guessing” myself … and I do that a lot. The really stinky thing is that doubt holds me back in SO many ways. I get the same kinds of “You’re so confident” comments and compliments … and they’re really nice. But the truth is, most days my feet feel as if they’re stuck in quicksand as I hold tightly to uncertainty.
I realize there are no guarantees in life and we’ll never accomplish much of anything if we don’t take some risks. I just wish I could kick doubt to the curb!
Sandra Rea - OMG! What a stunningly honest piece. I too am a highly productive person. Heck, my Ebay name is ProductiveSandy. (I don’t Ebay much these days, but still…) And I get a lot done most days. I just met with someone I knew 30 years ago. She asked me what I’d been up to recently. The other friend with whom I’ve been visiting in Dallas, far away from my home in the OC, started laughing. She’s seen it. She knows. The short answer is A LOT. So I tell my old friend and she was patient. At the end, she sat back in her chair, picked up her cocktail and said she was exhausted just hearing all of that. Well, that’s my life. HOWEVER, I too sometimes get hit in the face with the ol’ doubt pie! It is awful. I walk around sort of moping and avoiding people in my home. My office is in my home, so there are kids to avoid and a man to avoid and a dog to avoid. And I too have to do the self-talk dance inside my head. As entrepreneurs we have no choice. We don’t take sick days. We don’t get paid if we don’t work. So we have to kick Doubt to the curb, bags packed, locks changed. It’s tough sometimes, but it must be done. GREAT PIECE AS ALWAYS. I am your devoted fan.
Mandy Ward - Next time I get paralyzed, I’m going to come back and feed the fish – silly, fun which gives a bit of ‘space’ to think.
Feed the fish and be a goldfish for 5 seconds = a short shot of meditation. Just try to do it without doing the goldfish open mouth/close mouth action!
I enjoyed reading your article,
Thanks and best wishes, Mandy
Ande Lyons - Tammy!
Thank you for spotlighting the Life and Love of Doubt… a dear friend of us all… and inviting it to the party.
Doubt teaches us the best lessons; it gives us a deeper relationship with our Self; and it has a profound impact on our ability to soar and be remarkable.
Yet it’s often shoved back into the darkest part of the closet… an “unmentionable.”
Doubt needed to come out of the closet for some fresh air, sunlight and LOVE. Give Doubt a hug, a high-five, a clink, clink and a woo hoo! It’s one of the best shadows we have and needs to be celebrated.
BTW: FAVE quote of the post “a disturbingly lovely letter.” LOVE IT!
Your Devoted Goddess,
Tammy - Hi Tana, those Chinese proverbs were eerily accurate! Standing still has never suited me. I say that knowing that my happy place will always be in a quiet room with a good book, surrounded by my kitties and dog. Certainly that is about as still as you get. Hope is something I hang on to. The consequence of losing that is incomprehensible. I am nothing if not forever hopeful. Thanks for the read and the comment. I do so appreciate knowing you are on the other side.
Tammy - Hi Melanie, if you ever figure out how to get rid of the doubt in your life, you better share it, girl! I have yet to master that task. As confident as I am, and I truly am, doubt finds a way to weasel in periodically. It makes me stronger in the end, no lie. But it messes with my head and my life like nothing else. Bah! I’m so glad you enjoyed my chunk of honesty. I can’t think who I’d rather have shared it with!
Tammy - Ande, I think you are so right … doubt is a commonality we ALL have. Yet, I find few people who openly admit it. What a shame. I think it would help us all to know that those people we admire, well, they have doubts and crummy days too. And they make through…which means we can make it through! The letter was absolutely disturbingly lovely. It was kind, thoughtful and praising. But it pictured me as a person I do not know myself as. I found it disturbing that my persona could have been so misconstrued. Or am I delusional. Oh, God, I hope so! From one Goddess to another … I do so LOVE having you here!! Thanks for that!
Tammy - Mel, you never fail to put a smile on my face. “No doubt about that”? Ahahahahaha! Yup, doubt is a bugger to deal with. The monster at the gate denying entrance to your life. Not okay. I guess that’s why we read stories as kids about fighting dragons and winning. We need to believe that we can. And I do. Believe, that is. You are one of my favorite devoted readers, and I’m so grateful for you, your insight and your humor. It’s MY pleasure to have you, Mel.
Walker Thornton - Tammy, I think you speak for many of us–I can certainly attest to moments of doubt. Years of doubt! Thank you for this, it is giving me a powerful nudge.
Kathy Radigan - This was just what I needed to read today, thanks! I hate when doubt creeps in and I too think of it as a warning sign that I have to re-adjust my thinking. Thank you for your honesty!!
Melanie - It’s settled then. Doubt is a “weasel”! 😉
Jennifer - Amazing piece. Think people admire this trait in you because that first step forward is often the hardest. When they see that you can do it, it inspires them to have more faith in themselves to be able to do it as well.
Tammy - Hi Jennifer, here’s hoping you are right! Doubt seems to be shame based. I’m not sure why. We ALL have it from time to time. And it’s a bitch getting rid of. Thanks for you kind review and for your sharing. You, Jennifer, are AWESOME!
Tammy - Hi Walker, I think doubt is something we ALL deal with, like it or not. But few speak of it, like it’s a weakness of sorts. Nonsense! It’s a devil to get past, that’s for sure. Between you and mean, I hate it. But kicking it to the curb, while challenging, is always empowering. So happy to be able to share that nudge with you. Thanks for that!
Maureen Musgrave Armentrout - I’m of the ‘fake it till you make it’ school….What a great read and wonderful advice – Thanks!!
Charity Kountz - That’s great and I agree bit what about when you have doubts about meeting other peoples expectations? I get paralyzed by the thought of disappointing others.
Kitt Crescendo - I believe Babe Ruth said it best when he said “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
I, too, have often appeared to people as fearless. What a crock. Lately I’ve been struggling with nerves and fear as I am at the end stages of putting my first manuscript out there. Then I remember something someone once told me…”Only the stupid are unafraid. It’s the willingness to do what’s necessary despite our fear that makes us brave.” So, instead of allowing my fear to take hold, I’ve been telling myself, “You’ve got this.”
Kent Krumwiede - I came across you blog looking for a reference to do not doubt but believe. This is awesome and I am sharing it with my Confirmation class as we talk about sharing our faith and how not to let “DOUBT” of ourselves get in the way of sharing. This is just what the pastor ordered.Thank you for sharing of yourself and not doubting it needed to said. I will share your blog site with the two young women in the class and the other women in my congregation. Keep writing, we all, men and women alike,need to hear this type of attitude.
Tammy - Hi Kit, just saw this comment. What a beauty it is! My dad would always tell me “never let them see you sweat”. They never do. Thanks for your sharing, my sister from another mother. Love you for that! And, YES, you’ve got this!!