Self-Doubt: An Affliction that Grows...Unless you Stop It!

Doubt...everyone has experienced doubt at some point in his or her life. One may doubt the existence of god, one may have doubted the loyalty of a friend, or the likelihood of a promotion. People also experience self-doubt at various times throughout their lives. Self-doubt is not a foreign concept to most; however, self-doubt can take on a more powerful and frequently present role in the lives of people who live with chronic physical illness, and can trigger old and long forgotten insecurities from the past.

Imagine what it could be like. A person may have felt confident in their abilities to perform the duties of his or her profession competently, as he or she has for a great number of years. Suddenly there are these physical symptoms that may make it difficult to complete tasks that were like second nature in the past. It is not unreasonable when one then starts to question, "can I accomplish my life goals" or in the immediate future, "will I be able to get through work, chores, or family obligations today?"

Self-doubt is a tricky and slippery affliction. It can spread quickly from one aspect of a person's life to others. For example if a person's physical symptoms have made it necessary to alter one's work routine, that person may quickly start to wonder, "well if I can no longer perform in this area of my life in the manner that I used to, maybe I wont be able to do X anymore either." An "I can't" mentality can sprout, sprinkling seeds of self-doubt throughout one's mind. The challenge is to attempt to persevere even in the face of self-doubt. Yes, one may be feeling doubtful of certain abilities, but that does not have to stop one from trying. Think about where the self-doubt comes from. Perhaps a job or an activity had to be altered to meet some new needs but how does that suddenly become generalized to all tasks in life? Is it possible to wonder whether or not these generalized feelings of self-doubt are unresolved insecurities from the past, triggered by some new alterations in life? Maybe some of the present feelings of self-doubt are familiar. The "I cant" may be coming from the very real challenges that are presently being faced due to living with a chronic illness, but it may also be activating experiences from childhood or adolescence where self-doubt was prominent. It may not even be a specific memory but a familiar feeling, a similar reaction in the body.

When experiencing self-doubt--the affliction that has the power to grow and grow, it is important to make time to sit down and reflect on where the doubt is coming from. At the same time one should engage in action--trying out the doubted ability. It will be surprising to experience how much one is actually capable of even when his or her mind believes the opposite. If you can no longer do things in the same way that you used to, it is important to try not be discouraged . Some things will change but others will not...do not generalize the outcome of some things to mean the outcome of all.

Self-doubt has the power to grow but it does not have to be an affliction that grows if you do not allow it to. Challenge yourself! Will you sit back and allow the weeds of the "I can't" mentality suffocate you with self-doubt; or will you deeply reflect on where this doubt is coming from, accept the changes that have had to be made in your life, and challenge yourself to achieve as many of your goals possible?