The Doubt Monster

Sitting in the dark Photo credit: nishaksquared
The doubt monster waits in the dark…
Photo credit: nishaksquared

It’s been two weeks since I officially launched my <<gulp>> new business, and it’s already been quite a ride. My days are full with project work, writing, research, analysis, studying. Little time to eat and even less time to sleep. I feel like I’m making great strides every day, but with each step forward, I do realize how much more I want to learn and accomplish. And it is in those moments of surveying the landscape of my dreams and goals that doubt lifts her tangled head and creeps into my path.

Doubt is that wicked little girl (who I imagine looks like that demon child in The Ring) who insinuates herself into your stream of consciousness and waits. She knows that eventually you will ask yourself a question, and however innocent the question may be, she knows that with just the right maneuver, the question can blow up like a balloon  and then pop! — the floodgates are open. All Hell breaks loose.

For me in these recent weeks, there is a point in each day when I sit back and wonder if I’m doing the “right” thing. If I’m cut out for this (the “this” here being my new venture,). If I’m capable enough to make this happen. If I’m kidding myself. If I’m smart enough or just plain dumb. You get the idea.

Now, I do think that doubt can be useful. It is another one of those internal barometers of checking in with yourself. It’s a way to make sure that you’re not lying to yourself, that you are walking into things with eyes wide open.

The key though is not to let the doubt blow every question, every pause in confusion or ignorance, to become larger than life and cloud your judgment. And that art — of seeing the bigger picture, maintaining perspective and believing in yourself — takes time.

I was speaking to a social entrepreneur last week about the psychological experience of starting her own venture. We don’t really talk about the mind game it plays within us, no matter how good or confident we feel about giving our idea life a la Frankenstein. And you know what? I’m glad I spoke to her. About 99.9% of what she was describing I could relate to. Oh, happy day: I’m not the only one that the doubt monster has been visiting and playing tricks on! Hallelujah! Praise Jesus! Can I get an ‘Amen’?

That’s the funny thing about doubt: in the moment, you feel like you’re the only one to experience it. It’s a lonely state. Only you truly know what it feels like because it knows you inside and out. And why is that? Because it comes from within you. It’s not some freaky, spazzed out, monster girl from a Japanese horror movie. It’s a seedling within you that slowly grows when your confidence is shaken or when your walls are down.

These walls are not there because you’re trying to lock yourself in or protect yourself. Rather, they are down so that you can be more receptive and open to what the world has to offer you. And you welcome the good with the bad, the fluff with the deep stuff. And the thing that we forget? Most of it comes from inside you, not outside.

So in those moments when I feel doubt rearing her greasy head, I tell myself that doubt is good. Doubt is fine. Doubt is just another way to check-in with myself to make sure I’m doing my best. Doubt is that icky feeling that pushes me outside of my so-called comfort zone and makes sure that I keep growing, that I keep my eye on the prize, that I keep being true to myself.

Believe me, writing this post about doubt is easier than going through those rough patches. But I think that because we all experience it at any point and corner in our lives, it’s better we just air it out. Anyone that has created anything (and that’s everyone) knows what it’s about. No festering allowed. Just talk it out. Give a name to the monster and let it fade away. Learn what you can from it and carry on.


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