Today I am having a guest post blogger. His name is Donald Huffman he is a writer from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He had several profound spiritual experiences that drastically changed the course of his life. He has a full-time job in health care and he blogs about writing and spiritual matters.
What My Week of Self-doubt Gave to Me
I spent most of last week beating myself up.
I’d taken the week off editing my book so I could focus on the online aspect of my writing. I was going to “get all caught up” on the blog and the networking stuff.
And what happened?
Self-doubt happened. I didn’t complete the blog article in the time that I wanted it done by, I didn’t make the progress in an online course that I wanted to make, and I didn’t have all the newsletter stuff wrapped up in the nice, tidy package that I wanted it to be in.
I could see that there was much good and many blessings in my life. A rising flood of negativity, however, flowed at a quickening pace into my outlook.
“You have this dream of writing, and yet you wrote very little.”
“It’s hard to be a writer, and you clearly don’t have the grit for it.”
“You took a vacation from editing so you could blog. You didn’t blog. The forces of creation will soon move on to someone who’s serious.”
This is the voice of my inner criticism and, last week, it had filled me to an agonizing extend. I didn’t know how to fight it. It brought me down into this swamp of discouragement and inaction. I knew that this self-doubt was “the problem,” “the enemy.”
I simply was at a loss for to deal with it. I wasn’t producing the writing that I had produced the week before. It seemed like I wasn’t accomplishing any of it. Jokes from my co-workers and friends became less funny. Food started to taste bland. The plants and the trees no longer had the magic pouring out of their leaves and bark.
Back to The Salt Mines?
That’s what I call it. “The salt mines.” It’s the space in my mind where I go when I need to “fix everything.” I’ll slay all my demons with a solitary effort of hard work and determination. I resigned myself to renewed effort. I would pull the ambition up from my very roots if there was any to be found. Every time I thought about writing, however, I had a reaction. Like the room that I was in was getting smaller. Claustrophobic, it was getting painful to go through the day-to-day.
It seemed like I just could not make a decent start at writing.
“You should be writing. Not thinking about writing and making yourself sick. You’re not cut out for this. Why don’t you just go to the bar?”
I felt afraid and alone. I couldn’t hear God. I beat myself up horribly in my mind.
I learned a term in Alcoholics Anonymous – “the gift of desperation.” It’s when pain pushes you to do something different. My different was starting to ask for help again. I didn’t start with people. Best to start small. I started by asking the plants and the trees.
“What should I do?” I posed to the spindly bushes huddled around the big tree overlooking the lake.
I got quiet. I breathed. I’ve always enjoyed the company of plants. I noticed that the bushes hiding me in the safety of their foliage were all the same species. They had the same leaves and they shot out of the darkened earth in the same way.
A thought occurred to me – Why do you think you are alone?
That was what I needed. I reached out to my peers in an excellent closed Facebook group called Intentional Blog. I told them of my discouragement. Helpful insight began pouring in within minutes. It’s funny how the universe will send you help over and over again in the same message when you ask for it.
Remember that my biggest problem was my negativity thinking? If I only I could rid myself of the pesky self-doubt, then I’d be free? Hard work and determination would save the day?
I stumbled upon this excellent article on Two Drops of Ink by Dr. Noelle Sterne
This got the proverbial gears turning. Maybe I was sabotaging myself because I felt I didn’t deserve my dream as a writer. Self-sabotage may be the culprit. No big revelation. I had already suspected this. How do I deal with it?
Another article I had found by Dawna at http://morepositiveoutcomes.com helped me remember that we oftentimes get what our minds focus on. I had been focused on my defeat. Her article reminded me that I needed to have faith.
The feedback I received from my Intentional Blog peers had been a Godsend. That was the kicker. Asking for help from people in the same boat as me. The thoughtful responses had given me fresh ideas and new direction. I had new questions to ask myself and to ask those questions from a sane and compassionate place.
Hello discouragement. Why are you visiting me? And what do you have to teach me? Hello perfectionism. What are you protecting me from? There was shame visiting as well.
I did this several times. By the lake. In the living room. Images of falling behind in grade school (despite initial intentions to excel) and the pain of failure came to my mind. Scenes replaying from the past of needing to stay quiet to protect myself, of the necessity to work hard and alone, to set such an impossible standard for myself that I can only stayed in the controlled safety of inaction and thought-life.
I thanked these parts of myself for the security provided. And then I asked them to step aside so I could do what I chose to do with my life. To step aside so that I can write and create. So, that’s what I did and that’s what happened. I have a new appreciation and gratitude to my peers. I made a guest post pitch and pitched several interview requests. I got the newsletter in order and I’m back at this damned keyboard where I need to be.
Are you struggling in your writing or art with self-doubt and worry? Could it be because you think you’re alone? If that’s the case, try asking for help. Ask for help from your friends, family, God. Ask for help from your peers and you will be surprised in all the ways it will soon come. Be intentional with your searching and be gentle with yourself while doing it. And have a great day as well.
I encourage you to follow Donna Maria’s blog RosaryandRedsox.com.
By Donald Huffman. My blog can be found at donaldhuffman.com