A little critter called self doubt


There is a little critter, which runs around the house. It chews cords, and makes a mess. It keeps you awake at night. 

When I was little, I devoted pages in diaries to this critter. Why doesn’t So and So like me? What did I do wrong? Why am I such a horrible person etc etc. With every page, the critter got bigger as it feasted on my every analytical and self-critical sentiment. A monster house pest roamed around me, haunting and bothering me and keeping me awake. It did its best to ruin relationships, and convince me that I was worthless and hopeless.

By 20, I was so sick of reading about and writing about this critter, I stuck my diaries in a big wooden box, and tucked the box under my bed. The critter squirmed and writhed. Apparently lack of oxygen does wonders when deflating over-sized house pests.

This critter goes by a name. You may have a critter with a similar name. Mine is called Self Doubt.

Self Doubt the critter is smaller these days. But it’s still there, under my bed. On days full of productivity, positive feedback and praise, Self Doubt is silent and forgotten. If ever I receive negative feedback, or feel I’ve done something wrong or less than, the critter reminds me of its presence under my bed. It may even have a bit of a wander around the room, wake me up, and damage the electrical wires.

The thing about Self Doubt, the critter, is that I’m kind of used to its presence. And I’m wondering if it’s all bad.

Here’s what I’ve learned about Self Doubt over the years.

Don’t feed it. 

The critter is pretty great at finding its own food. Leaving chunks of cheese out is not necessary. Critters such as Self Doubt love tasty morsels like negative self-talk, lack of sleep and overwhelm.

Know it’s there 

There’s nothing worse than being woken up in the night by noises under the bed, and not having a clue what or who they belong to. Knowing Self Doubt lingers in your house means 3am wake ups don’t need to turn into 3 hours of insomnia. Hello critter. I know you’re there. Goodnight.

It’s not all bad

Most houses have critters. And most living things have a purpose, of some kind. Spiders eat mozzies and flies. I’m sure mice do something useful, somewhere.

As a creative type person, prone to productivity and putting myself out there, Self Doubt is a useful regulator. It keeps me in check. It helps me question myself. It makes me try and see things from other people’s perspective. Just because I think the little story I’ve just written could be my  opus, doesn’t mean others will. Sometimes, a gentle reminder from the critter under my bed helps me moderate my expectations.

Like all things in life, in balance and moderation, Self Doubt is okay, when you learn to live with it. It could even be a good thing.

Do you have critters under your bed too?

Image from Creative Commons. Linking with Essentially Jess