At some point in life we all suffer from self-doubt. Even the most confident have moments when they question their ability, it’s just not everyone is prepared to show it. And it’s this lack of visibility which at times can make you think you're alone with your fears of personal competency or what you feel is a lack of them but, as R.T. Bennett said, “Don’t let others tell you what you can’t do. Don't let the limitations of others limit your vision. If you can remove your self-doubt and believe in yourself, you can achieve what you never thought possible.”
Not that we always feel this. The rhythms of life and good practice will lead to growing confidence which leads to better performance. But self-doubt doesn't live amongst the familiar but rather the new. It's in the area of growth where the gremlins of self-doubt do their work.
It appears to me those who struggle least with self-doubt are those who have little to doubt over. The person who has mastered a 5k run has little to doubt himself until he tries to conquer a 10k run. That's where self-doubt kicks in. It bites harshest when we commit to improvement- when we decide to step out of the status quo, when we attempt something new, or bolder or bigger than before. So, if you are in a season of self-doubt - take heart for it probably means you are stretching yourself in a new area or taking on a fresh challenge.
So here are my five steps to conquering self-doubt
As Vincent van Gogh wrote, “If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” And silencing the voice is the first step to overcoming self-doubt.
For some people all that matters in life is that something works. What it looks like has no bearing on it. Beauty is but a poor relation to function. I have some sympathy for such thinking - but also live for a different cause.
'You can have any colour you like, as long as its beige.' Is a oft quoted saying that amplifies the point. Function we understand - beauty, well does it really matter what it looks like. Indeed beauty itself is subjective and as they say, 'is in the eye of the beholder.' Yet beauty is all around us. God is the divine architect and the ultimate artist so little wonder if there is a yearning in the heart for more than just magnolia.
Art is the language of the soul which is why we are moved by music, poetry and paintings. It's why we find expression in language that is cultivated rather than calculated. Appreciation is a gift imparted from the divine - it reminds us we are more than the culmination of our chemical parts.
The Genesis story tells us that God created the world and after each day of creation he stops, looks, and concludes that what he sees is good. Goodness borne of beauty - the artisan at work. Yet its so easy for beauty to be crushed by the need to perform - to meet deadlines, to put food on the table. And in such a demanding world beauty plays second fiddle to basics - we all have to eat, after all. Fast food prevails and ready meals supply our needs but are we missing something of real value? What are we teaching our children if we don't have time to play - don't have room for art, to cultivate a life where beauty is harvested and celebrated.
There is something therapeutic about plucking the strings of a guitar, of penning the thoughts of the heart, of applying the paint to a canvas. And the beauty is not in what is created but in being creative. It's in the letting go and creating time. Of letting the mind wander and letting the soul go there. There is a reason why the arts become the companions of healing a broken mind.
If God was not an artist then we would bereft of colour, limited in scenery, and restricted in what our eyes can see. Beauty comes from God because God is beautiful - we see this all around us. It is true that a war is waged against this beauty and at times hate prevails and bland controls but I can't help feel that when my soul is stirred by beauty I walk a step closer to God.