The Damage of Doubts

You wake up and it’s raining. Shucks. You were hoping for a sunny day. But remember: the sun is still shining above the clouds, and it *will* shine down on you again soon. This is not magical thinking. It’s a fact.

We humans have our own weather systems. I think of the sun as a metaphor for my motivation. No matter how bright an idea or my motivation is, I am often thwarted by doubts. All my doubts cloud over my ability to do what I imagine.  Why do we doubt ourselves?

Let’s say, for instance, you are an accountant in your day job, but you’re always scribbling poetry on scraps of paper at all hours of the day and night, and you dream of publishing a book of poetry. Are there doubting voices in your head telling you that you can’t?  That say, ‘Nah, I’m not a poet. I just crunch numbers.’ ‘What a stupid idea! You’re no good at writing. You’re delusional.’

That is precisely the kind of doubt that needs to be stopped. Kick it out of your head. Tell the doubt to take a hike, or f*** off (if it’s a really persistent doubt). Many of us lived our lives with a running commentary of these rude, negative voices in our heads.

If this is a persistent habit, it’s time to put a stop to it.

The first step is recognition of doubt-boogers – the technical term for the obstructive doubts and negative thoughts promulgated by the outrageously rude bully in your head (who let her in?). Practice catching the doubt-boogers when they jump into your brain. When you notice one, write it on a slip of paper. If you’re in a storm of crisis or depression, write them all down. Even if it seems like a very small, innocent booger. Write it down.

Next, on the same slip of paper, write a note (it can be very short, or just a keyword) that refutes the booger.

Create a special place for the doubt-boogers. You can put them in a decorative box or stuff them in an  envelope in your desk drawer. But they must have a specific assigned place. My sister, Elisabeth, gave me a box a few years ago (right), which is perfect for the job.

So your slips of paper – which you might decide should be green or mottled pink like a nasty rash – might read like my partial list below: (my real list is much much longer)

⇒  I’m a fake. (No, your work has been published and awarded.

⇒  He dumped me because I wasn’t thin enough. (You are fine the way you are. The timing was not right.)

⇒  I’m broken. (No, you’re not. When you feel “broken,” it means you’re hurting. Hurting is how you *feel,* not what you *are.*)

⇒  I’m not strong enough. (That’s bullshit, and you know it. Think about the gazillion challenges you’ve faced and triumphed over.)

⇒  I’ve always been too loud. (Enthusiastic, which some people love about you. Others may not, and that’s okay.)

⇒  My fingers are ugly. (Your fingers may be bent, but they are also strong and skilled.)

⇒  I am too trusting & too gullible. I will never learn. (Trust is a beautiful thing. Yes, you have learned to be more cautious.)

Maybe you will feel a little silly at first with your slips of paper. But keep doing it, and just as with any mindful practice, your skill at catching the doubt-boogers will improve; you will catch them faster, and you’ll learn to catch even the really sneaky ones. And you will probably soon have a bursting booger box.

Great! Congratulate yourself! All those doubt-boogers have been put in their place.

Now that you have put them in their place – literally – you will begin to automatically, naturally, and confidently talk right back when they pipe up.

Booger: You’re not strong enough.

Margaret: I know you and that’s a lie. You are a doubt-booger and I’ve already put you in your place. I know that I am strong enough. End of discussion.

The actual physical placement — documentation — can be helpful, even powerful. Think about how documentation is crucial if an issue is up for debate. Maybe your boss says that he didn’t receive your Quarterly Radish Report on time. But you produce a dated email with your report attached to prove otherwise. End of discussion, right?

Your box of doubt-boogers is your documentation. You have examined these doubt-boogers masquerading as truths, concluded that they are not true, and put them in their place. When you feel consumed with doubts, look at your notes. See? You’ve been there, done that.

You can think of your doubt-booger box as a kind of compost heap. You throw all the unwanted scraps and organic garbage into the bin; it piles up, ages, and ferments until it — magically and organically — turns into something valuable; something to help you grow. Self worth! It’s magic!

© 2015 Margaret B. Moss

4 Comments on “The Damage of Doubts

  1. Your doubt-booger box is too lovely for what they deserve – but maybe that’s part of the magical formula for their transformation! 🙂

  2. I love the term doubt-booger! Such a perfect descriptor…it literally blocks the incoming and out-going breath. The visual of extracting them like a real booger made me laugh out loud! I also like the idea of not simply throughing them away. Afterall we created them so they can’t be completely worthless. But the thought that they require correction or learning like a child in order to be useful and productive is intriguing. So putting them in a respectful place once corrected for future reference, is ideal for when we inevitably reproduce them to use that box full of evidence that in their negative form they are unhelpful and unpriductive. This evidence can hopefully help us recreate a new and improved thought model for ever evolving and impriving thoughts. Maybe those evolving thoughts then become nuggets of wisdom, or some other clever term your create journalist’s mind can derive. Thank you for this thought shifting post!

  3. Regina, Thank you so much for your comment. Alas, I’ve been quite absent! Just too busy with the other parts of my life. I so appreciate your feedback! xo Margaret

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