I had an experience recently that made me question my sanity. In that moment, my self-doubt was at an all time high. I felt like two parts of my brain were in the ring, punching each other. One was my self-doubt and the other was my belief that I wasn’t crazy, and I was the referee who would help determine which side was victorious.
Have you ever doubted yourself or your abilities?
We all go through that, don’t we?
You want to accomplish something, and while you’re making plans, self-doubt creeps in and questions if you can really do it. You want to talk to someone you are attracted to and self-doubt jumps up and questions if they’d even give you the time of day. You choose to change something about your appearance and self-doubt makes you wonder if you’re making the right choice.
So what do you do in that moment?
How do you answer self-doubt’s call without wasting too many of your precious minutes on the line with it? How do you fight back so doubt doesn’t keep you from going after what you desire?
My husband Josh and I checked in to our room at a sunny resort in Dominican Republic, thanked our bellman with words and cash, and I kicked off my shoes. Filled with excitement for the coming of plans for relaxation, spending time with our friends, and exploring the area, we began to unpack.
Since I used my computer during travel, it was low on battery, so I pulled it out of the bag and bent down to plug it into the outlet under the desk. After standing, I attached the cord to the power outlet on the laptop and received a little zap. “Got my finger in between the two metal pieces,” is what I thought.
I proceeded to move the laptop to the corner of the desk so it would be out of the way, and when I touched the metal laptop case, I received my second shock. A vibration shot up my arm. This time, I let out a small shriek as I jumped back.
That got Josh’s attention. He asked me what I was doing, so I explained the zaps I was receiving. He walked up, put his hand on my computer, and… nothing. Then he gave me a funny look.
Confused and wondering if I imagined the zaps, I put my hand on the laptop again. Zaaaap!
And again, he put his hand on it, and… nothing.
It was at that moment I wondered if I was losing it.
Was I going crazy?
Could I be imagining it?
The zap felt very real.
My mind raced, arguing with itself. It was experience versus self-doubt . My experience told me, “I’m not crazy. I know I was shocked; there’s no way I imagined it. My self –doubt rebutted, “It’s not shocking him, so I must be crazy.”
What do you do when you feel strongly about something… like you know it to be true without a doubt, but then there is something going on that causes you to question your certainty?
Stay Open-Minded so Solutions Can Find Their Way In
When that happens, some people close their minds – unwilling to even consider the evidence contrary to their belief. They might have said to themselves, “I don’t care what he says, he must be getting zapped too. It’s zapping me so it zaps everyone.”
Some people fold too easily – giving up their initial belief. Those people might have said to themselves, “It isn’t zapping him, so I must be losing it. Maybe I need a nap.”
Since I’ve experienced both of those things, giving up too easily and closing off to evidence contrasting my beliefs, and have seen that the outcome of either doesn’t serve me at the highest level, I chose the third path.
Look for Evidence that Lessens Doubt
There must be an answer to how my belief is accurate (I am not crazy) and the contrasting evidence can be explained (he isn’t getting zapped). I just have to figure out what that is. Keep investigating.
I told myself, “I was shocked. He wasn’t. Figure out what the difference is.” So we stood looking at each other and then the computer, and then back at each other.
About 60 seconds of thoughtful silence passed.
Then a thought popped into my mind that felt as unexpected as the electricity that passed through my arm moments before. My brain answered with, “He is wearing his rubber sandals, whereas I am barefoot.”
“Take off your shoes and then touch it,” was my suggestion to him. He smiled like he thought I was reaching and this wasn’t going to make any difference. I wasn’t sure if he was going to oblige my request.
Then he kicked off his shoes and put his hand on my computer.
“Whoa!” he said. “What the…?”
Turned out, I wasn’t crazy. There was something strange going on with that outlet. He unplugged my computer, and we took it across the room to a different outlet. For the rest of the week, I was cautious when using my laptop, but thankfully received no more shocks.
The lesson I was reminded of that day was that self-doubt will creep in at times, and it’s my job to recognize it and fight against it. Self-doubt only affects me if I let it. I can use experience and open-mindedness to overcome those doubts, and so can you.
When you doubt yourself, remind yourself of what you’ve accomplished so far – of your experience. Remind yourself that there is always a solution, you just need to find it.
The next time you doubt your abilities, or your sanity, keep your mind open to the evidence and experiences that prove you to be the awesome person you are – the person who has gotten you to where you are and the person that can get you to where you want to go. Leave self-doubt on the curb.