Thursday, September 18, 2014

Self-doubt


How doeth thy come?
By Jonathan Dunnemann

Why is it this way
that so often I am left without answers
whenever I pray?

Where do I even begin,
I am absent the will, the spirit, and
without a friend?

When may I finally receive
a most reassuring calm like
that of an ocean breeze?

What point is there to my being forever alone,
left here to do so little,
other than to grip and groan?

Who is the comforter and
how long must I await the trumpeter's call?


Self-doubt often becomes a destabilizing and debilitating factor in a person's life. There is this constant nagging sense of being ashamed for what one is not; not assertive, not attractive, not Caucasian, not funny, not happily married, not heterosexual, not Christian, not more African looking, not republican, not sexy, not slim, not tall, not straight, not wealthy, nor well-spoken and so on, and so on.
Some people are surprised to hear that everyone has feelings of self-doubt. The seemingly most powerful and confident people doubt themselves from time to time. But the sense of self-doubt that we're discussing here goes deeper than merely doubting one's actions and capabilities. The deliberate pursuit of the issue of self-doubt invariably leads us to discover a deep inner embarrassment, a very personal sense of inauthenticity. I have never met a person who was free of this feeling, nor one who could easily address it. It might be buried deeply, but once they understood what I'm referring to, virtually everyone admits to experiencing this sense of inauthenticity. It's the feeling that you may be the only one who doesn't really know who you are or what life is about, or the uneasy feeling that you may have been left out some privileged "cosmic" information loop.
One result of this sense of insecurity and uncertainty is an inclination to "improve" our self-image. Here we pretend, misrepresent, embellish, fake, and so on. No matter how sophisticated or subtle the artifice, deep down we're aware it is fraudulent, and as such it further contributes to a sense of inauthenticity. The sense of self becomes even more tangled as we add such distortions as phoniness, insincere sincerity, affectations, adulterating or withholding expressions of our "inner self," and many other patterns and activities too subtle to identify. In simple terms, we doubt our selves. We have a deep and often unacknowledged sense of self-doubt.
- Peter Ralston, The Book of Not Knowing

To simply say, "get over it" in my opinion is to not really understand the depth of the challenge that self-doubt presents. In my own daily struggle, I am working at seeing myself just as I am. Seeing myself as I am and not as I which to be seen does reveal my bad-habits, fears, threats, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses. Like others I too am uniquely handicapped.

While having seldom felt completely at-ease with myself, I have clothed myself in my most fitting disguise. One that was designed to conceal as much as possible an ever present anxiousness, confusion, desperation, inadequacy, and loneliness which has persistently hounded me from as far back as I can remember.

Most onlookers would never even suspect me to be filled with such a fragile state of being. I look tough, speak with a deep voice, and I have taught myself to walk like a bad ass. Yet, I remain unconvinced that this is who I really am or should truly attempt to be.

Of course I absolutely want to be taken seriously, regarded as a capable individual, and genuinely valued for my integrity by others. But, it often seems to me and probably to others as well as though the absence of affirmation in certain areas early in my life has caused me to be argumentative when it is not a time for debate, to fight with others when the actual war at hand is one being wagged from within me, to holler more loudly when the moment calls for one to reflect calm and be more soft spoken, or to runaway when it would be far more courageous to stand-in. Consequently, I have in point of fact, learned well how to become my own worst enemy. And though I am still often told that I have surpassed many hurdles in my life, I do not feel as yet to be completely living my life victoriously as an "overcomer." The shadow of shame is a constant reminder of who I have also been in my past. Maybe it remains there to keep me from becoming altogether lost once again. Who knows?

However, I am beginning to see that there is the potential for much more inner growth with a continuing focus on broad-based study, regular spiritual practice, along with helpful spiritual direction and a greater lived understanding of the world.