I’ve started several new personal projects in the last year, from writing blog posts and (gasp) sharing them to painting on my own rather than in a class with a teacher.
From the outside this looks like solitary work, but on the inside I have a frequent companion. This “friend” is right there with me as I set out to bring each new idea into the world, but it only ever wants to tell me one thing – I don’t know what I’m doing.
Of course, it easily adjusts the message to suit the situation, but it’s always some version of I don’t know what, I don’t know how, or just plain, I don’t know.
My toxic friend is the voice of self-doubt, and I’ve been actively working to downgrade our relationship.
It’s tricky because this voice is so familiar. I suspect it’s been with me for a very long time, so long that it seems normal. If I’m not paying attention, I just believe it.
Perhaps I’ve set so many new things in motion lately that it’s become especially noisy, or maybe I’ve become more protective of my personal space. Either way, I’ve started to question it.
Every time I notice, I don’t know what I’m doing, or anything remotely similar running through my head, I stop, take a breath, and ask,
Really?? What if I do know what I’m doing? What if I know exactly what I’m doing? What if, without this voice, I’m fully confident in what I’m doing? If I were fully confident, what would I do next?
Then I trust my instincts about what to do next. And I do, in fact, always know what to do next. Even if it’s just typing one sentence or making one paint stroke.
I think following through with the next action is key. It helps you gather evidence to use the next time self-doubt starts jabbering.
Yes, I hear you, but what you’re saying isn’t true. I remember all the times I did know what I was doing.
Without the bothersome visitor, everything flows much more smoothly.
I may not be able to tell you exactly where this sentence or this paint stroke is leading ten or even two steps down the line, but I do know what I’m doing in this moment, and this moment, and this moment.