There I was minding my own business as I sat at my desk. Enthusiastically, I worked on some ideas related to coaching and writing, seeing how these two could work well together. Suddenly I became aware of a strange and unwelcome emotion. It rose up as from a bog, steaming, smelling putrid. Before I knew what was happening, it had begun taking over my body. My shoulders slumped and my energy leaked out like a water balloon with a foot-sized gash.
My great plans didn’t look so thrilling anymore.
I couldn’t imagine what had caused the dramatic flip-flop from optimism to despair. Then I understood. It’s bewildering and unnerving, but the cause isn’t entirely unknown. It begins with a small thought which comes from nowhere. Or seemingly. It may be three-fourths unconscious, but it’s there and it’s poisonous.
It usually sounds like this: “What are you doing, making plans like this? Do you really think you can pull it off? Have you ever done anything like this before? What makes you think you will this time? Ah, give it up.” Recognize the raspy, bone-chilling voice? It’s the Voice of Self-Doubt.
Well, my Voice of Self-Doubt was particularly mean and wasn’t done with me yet. It wasn’t bad enough that the Voice told me it was questionable that I’d succeed in what I wanted to do. It continued by undermining my very self-worth. Not just what I could do, but who I actually am. Now, that’s low.
I’ll admit, it was tempting to collapse into a small pile and hover quietly until the Voice went away. And I have done that in the past, thinking I was helpless and had to wait until something or someone came along to make me feel good again. Now I know better. The Voice is a purveyor of lies. The lie can have to do with our abilities, our worth, our lovability, or other things we all really need and want. The lie from the Voice often comes from childhood messages, from faulty, fragile scaffolding of self we’ve allowed to be built on a wrong foundation, all our lives.
Knowing that the hijack of emotions springs from a lie deep inside, I spoke back to it. First, I recognized it as the Voice of Self-Doubt attacking my ability and my worth. Second, I stood up to it and refused to crumble, because I knew it was based on a lie. Took the gasoline right out of that engine and left it bone-dry. Lastly, I REPLACED the lie with truth. You can do the first two steps and have limited success. The third one is really the key that turns the lock. To replace the lie, you have to speak truth. Like this: I have tons of abilities and value. I am no less capable than anyone else who has done this. I like and appreciate myself. I can do this. I’m as good as anyone else.
The replacement phase is critical to bump out the lies. You don’t have to shout these aloud, just inside your head, in your room or a bathroom, outside, or in your car. See if you don’t feel better as you watch the evil mist of the Lie gradually, but surely, lift like smoke. The Voice has lost its power. And you didn’t even have to wait for the S.W.A.T. team to come rescue you. You were able to rescue yourself because you know it’s just lies and you’ll know how to handle them, next time there’s a hijacking.
I’m sure glad I learned to recognize the Voice of Doubt. Once in a while it gets me, though. But with practice I can catch it before it does too much damage.
Now, where was I? Oh yeah, I’m brainstorming ideas and plans for writing and coaching . . .