Working with Self-Doubt

Self Doubt

We’ve all experienced many moments of self-doubt, it’s universal.  Some of us may feel it more then others but we all suffer from it.  Tara Brach has a helpful podcast about Self-doubt, which you can download by going to her website, Tarabrach.com. 

We can recognize self-doubt in many ways.  It can sound like the negative voices that say, am I really lovable?  Am I worthy? Do I have something to offer? Am I capable of being in a relationship?

The more self-doubt grows inside of us the worse we feel.  We identify with this “badness” and it becomes a defining characteristic of who we are.  This is the core of self-doubt. 

We believe our negative thoughts, and the doubt continues to reinforce our identity.    This habitual process makes it difficult to let go and limits the view we have of ourselves. 

Tara Brach, Psychologist and Buddhist teacher, defines self-doubt as:  “A cluster of repeating beliefs that go along with feelings of shame and fear. When something triggers us this arises, and we feel bad”.   

When we’re caught in self-doubt we have an opportunity to practice and weaken the certainty of our beliefs and release some of the fear and shame.  We may start to glimpse ourselves aside from these beliefs when this happens. 

How can we change this pattern of self-doubt?  It’s a process.  Here are some questions you may want to reflect on that can help you begin to recognize and work with the negative voices in your head that perpetuates the patterns. 

Ask yourself is this really true?  The process of inquiry creates space and allows you to observe you’re responses instead of identifying with the negativity.

Sokyam Rinpoche said “It feels real, but is it true?”

Ask yourself where you feel the tension in your body when you hear these negative thoughts. Notice what it feels like in your body and what happens to you emotionally when you’re in this place.  What’s the impact this has on your life when you believe in the negative beliefs?  You may have an insight and recognize what you’ve been living with for a while.  Allow yourself to sit with this awareness and ask yourself how this has affected your life.

The more you become aware of this pattern, the greater the realization of what it might be like to live without the belief.  Who would you be and what would your life be like without these beliefs?

The process of inquiry provides space to see, hear and feel what it’s like to experience these negative beliefs from a different perspective, and creates a new pathway for something else in our experience.  When we can sense who we are beyond the belief, challenging our self-doubt, it can change our perception.  Self-doubt starts to shift, and something else comes into the foreground that changes our relationship to ourselves and enriches our life experience.