Exhale Doubt

confidenceConfidence is a habit.  So is doubt.

I’ve written about building confidence a thousand times, and I’ve talked about it with support groups for hours.  My confidence has grown out of habit.  In the early days I thought “fake it til you make it” was the guiding principle, but I wanted to understand it deeper than that.  Faking it was how I lived for too long.  I didn’t want to pretend.  I wanted genuine confidence.  In time I learned that confidence is simply a growing belief in yourself.

Likewise, doubt is a habit. Doubt is simply a growing disbelief in yourself.

It starts as a whisper.  They call it a “sliver of doubt” and in time you become used to that level of disbelief.  You accept that you doubt certain things about yourself.  The first few times the thought occurs to you out of legitimate concern.  Eventually though, the concern gives way to routine and now you aren’t questioning if you’re capable, you’re accepting that you’re incapable.

Doubt is debilitating. Doubt is what keeps us from picking up the phone and calling someone we want to talk to.  It’s what keeps us from speaking out in a meeting.  It’s what keeps us from telling the truth to a friend who asks for it.  Doubt is a whisper that grows to a growl, a yell, a scream,  living in your head, and eventually it’s an equal voice in every decision. Tragically, for some it becomes the guiding voice.  Doubt replaces reason.  It becomes the reason.  It keeps you from reaching too far, or dreaming too big.  It tries to keep you in check.  Stay there, right where you belong, where you’re comfortable.

Then, someday when you don’t even realize it, doubt doesn’t just keep you from reaching too far, it keeps you from reaching at all.  You’ve doubted yourself for so long that now your default internal thought is doubt.  Your internal response is inaction.

Our lives are filled with moments that matter – but they aren’t all first kisses, wedding days, job interviews, and huge personal achievements.  Those moments come with flashing lights – we know they matter. We see their potential, and we summon the confidence to bring our best to that moment.

So many other moments matter though.  So many moments that we let pass us by because they don’t come with flashing lights.   When we don’t have time to build ourselves up in advance we meet those moments with doubt, often without even realizing it, and the opportunity is gone before you dared to dream it was ever in your grasp.

In some ways it’s a screwed up defence mechanism we build around us.  If I don’t let myself want it, I can’t possibly miss it.  The risk of desire is longing.

Sometimes the biggest risks we take are in the moments before the moments that matter. Before the first kiss, there was the moment your confidence beat down your doubt and you asked her out.  Before the job interview there was the moment your confidence beat down down your doubt and you send in your resume.

The moments before the moments that matter, sometimes matter more.

Bring confidence to every moment, and not just the moments you think require it.
Don’t temporarily bring confidence when you need it.
Be confident.  You always need it, because sometimes the moments before the moments that matter actually matter more.

Inhale confidence. Exhale doubt.

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