I’ve been feeling stuck lately, you may have noticed that you haven’t heard from me in a while. The truth is, my censor has been on overdrive. This tendency to shrink is not new, it’s a cycle that I keep revisiting from time to time. As I excavate through the inner and outer layers that have brought me here, yet again, I am reminded of the hard truth that we don’t resolve our trauma by realizing it exists; in fact, we may never fully resolve it. But what we can do in moments of self-doubt is practice seeing ourselves as we are…
Here’s a glimpse into my process for shifting back into my power, I hope that you emerge feeling closer to yourself.
1. Recognize when self-doubt has become paralyzing.
This tendency to bowdlerize myself and my work arises from a mindset of self-doubt. In my experience, self-doubt is a temporary mental state of seeing what I’m not enough of or too much of—as compared to some idealized person who only exists in my mind—which makes me blind to all that I am. When I fail to see myself as I am, I contract, I shrink. Worst of all, self-doubt blocks my power because it closes my heart and flatlines my ability to be creative, nurturing and exposed.
The shame that comes when we doubt ourselves can cause us to harden into a protective ball. There’s nothing wrong with this, sometimes we need to wear our armor to feel safe and sound, but just like any animal, it’s work. This protective shell is not sustainable forever because it causes us to undermine and hide the very parts of us that need and desire to be expressed and seen. After some time, it becomes paralyzing, even deadening – how much time is up to each one of us to decide (your gut will tell you).
2. Put down ideas about who you should be.
For me, self-doubt arises when I think I’m less than or too much of. If you’re reading this, you’re likely trying to do your best, but best according to whose definitions and standards, theirs or your own? Part of this work of shifting into your power is putting down all of the imagined, heady ideas about who you are, or who you should be, and dropping your awareness down into the center of your being, where your worth is always gently splashing.
If you’re a thinker like me this means recognizing that the stories (thoughts) you’ve accumulated about how you’re too much or not enough, and where to derive your worth, came from outside of you, not inside of you. How do I know? Well, they certainly were not with you when you were born, were they? These stories are familial, generational, cultural. The best thing to do when paralyzed by self-doubt or low self-worth is to disentangle yourself from these thoughts, from the tendency to compare, even if just for a single conscious breath at first.
3. See yourself as you are.
Making this shift from self-doubt to self-worth, or being in your power, is all about seeing yourself, not as you wish you were, or as you project others wish you were, but as you are.
When I think back to my 10-day silent meditation course, the phrase that stands out the most to me is: as it is, not as you want it to be. Our teacher, Goenkaji was guiding us to feel the moment without mental resistance or aversion. Reciting this mantra has been so helpful for me over the years when I notice myself wanting things to be different than they are or wanting myself to be someone I’m not.
I want to be clear. I do not mean to resort to an “I am who I am” mentality; this is another sneaky way to shell up and stop becoming more You. Rather, I mean to trust in who and where you are in this moment. And to acknowledge that it is a brave and beautiful thing to be a human in relationship with other humans – i.e., you are brave.
Seeing and softening to ourselves as we are will always be the best way out of the paralysis of self-doubt. And it will always be our best tool to break through the instinctual hardness that keeps us stuck in learned thought and behavioral patterns that fuel more self-doubt.
4. Ask yourself, how can I become more me?
Some amount of self-doubt is healthy for growth, but only when it is cushioned by the ability to see yourself as a whole person with a divinely guided soul and a brave heart. From this self-seeing place, you can productively invite criticism in as a visitor, allow it to stay only as long as you choose and only as long as it is supporting you in becoming a more aligned, compassionate and lucid person.
Similarly, some amount of resistance to things as they are is necessary for us and the world to change, especially in situations that require us to stand up against something that we know in our veins is not ok. But this act of standing up requires movement; thus, mental resistance to the way things are (or the way we are) that shrinks and paralyzes us is toxic and must be cleaned up if we are to do the work we’re here to do.
Sometimes I slip into the stifling mindset of self-doubt and looking at myself through other people’s eyes. Craving their approval, shrinking and shapeshifting in the face of their disapproval; my inner child wearing their praise like a flowery hat and internalizing their opinions as criticisms and truths that must be hidden away for never. And eventually, the headiness of it all becomes an anchor that drops me back into my heart. When I emerge, I am grateful that I slipped because it sunk me right back into where I need to be.
About the Author
Allie Andrews is founder/ owner of OmBody Health. A recovering busy addict herself, she is passionate about teaching busy people to rush less, create space for self-care, and mindfully flow between doing and being to be more effective, creative, and purposeful.