I rediscovered an author I really like the other day. I pulled out a book that had been sitting on my shelf for years, and decided to reread it. I was instantly drawn in, and amazed at some of the insights it offered. And, as can happen when I read something I admire, I immediately start comparing myself. I feel inadequate. The “why bother” attitude starts, where I begin to think “well, it’s already been done, so who would care….” It takes me a minute to shake myself back to feeling that I have something of value to share.
The author I was reading?
I had pulled out a copy of my 1st book, Soul in Control: Reflections of a Reformed Superwoman. It’s a compilation of pieces, like this, that I have written in this blog/newsletter since 2002, and I published this “best of” anthology in 2012. Having written and published another book since then, I rarely think about this first one, and really have discounted it in my mind. I had recently sent a copy to a friend (I have a couple left…), and decided to just read a few pages, hoping I wouldn’t be embarrassed. I really was shocked.
It is so interesting to me that I can discount myself so completely. Here I am trying to write yet another book, and I feel all these inadequacies over my actual abilities. Who am I to think I can really write? Why would anyone want to read my stuff? And then I read what I wrote years ago – probably while feeling the same way at that time! – and am amazed.
So why do we doubt ourselves?
Fear of being found out, aka, the imposter syndrome. Fear of not having anything of value to say. Fear of saying the wrong thing. Or fear of success. I am quite sure I have had all of them at one time or another, or simultaneously.
This is not just applicable to writing – it’s pretty much anything in life. How we view ourselves in any given situation really determines our success, or lack thereof. Sure, there are those lucky situations where people success in spite of the odds, but I am willing to bet, that if you looked closely at the situation, a positive attitude, or lack of a negative one, were definitely at play.
So how do we release this self-doubt and bolster our self-confidence? Here are a few ways:
- Small successes – In psychology it is called Successive Approximations to a goal. Take small, gradual steps, add in a little bit of reinforcement each time, and gradually you will get to your desired result.
- Positive feedback – Receiving positive feedback about something you’ve said or done goes a long way to encouraging the same behavior in the future.
- Pay it forward – If you are a recipient of positive feedback, look to do the same for someone else. It not only helps them, but puts you in an energy space to attract more.
- Gain clarity – Figure out what you really want and why you want it, and put a plan in place to achieve it. If you don’t start with the clear intention, however, your result will be muddled as well and you’ll be back to the self-doubt in no time.
- Acknowledge yourself – Give yourself the proverbial pat on the back when you do something well. Acknowledge what it took to get there. Recount your strengths and lessons learned along the way.
- Be grateful – an attitude of gratitude not only clears out the negative, but allows more positive energy to flow your way.
I was just about to write “I may not ever be a NYTimes best seller…” – and then I caught myself. Why NOT? This is MY dream, so why not dream big? As Marianne Williamson says in my favorite quote, “Your playing small does not serve the world.”
I’m off to write my next delicious, inspirational and entertaining book! But first I have another great one to finish reading!