Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Why Do We Live With Self-Doubt?

Why do we doubt ourselves? Why do we not have confidence in our abilities as a writer? Or even as a person? Why do we feel like we take two steps back after every one step forward? 

Past experiences: It doesn't take many bad events in our writing life to instill that nasty bit of doubt that leads to a, sometimes, crippling ability to pursue our love of writing. Perhaps a teacher criticized your writing. All too often, we hear of a teacher with a stinging rebuke for what was a real effort for a student. Those words hurled like darts tend to lodge in our subconscious for a very long time. 

My grandmother crocheted beautiful tablecloths, dresser scarves and more. When I was about 9, I stood at her side one afternoon watching her needle dipping in and out. She was sitting on a dining room chair at the table, the sun streaming in the windows. I remember that day as though it happened only yesterday. And why is it etched so clearly in my mind? Because I asked her if she'd teach me how to crochet. Without stopping for even a second, she said, "No. You are much too clumsy to learn this." Crushed before I even got started! I've had a mental block about learning that particular art ever since. It can be the same way if someone tells you that you aren't capable of being a writer. I did learn to do many forms of needlework as an adult and you can continue to learn more in your writing world despite cutting remarks from others.

I once had a friend ask me how I could be a writer. She said, "Writers are people who hole up in a room all alone and have no social life. You're much too social to be a writer." She was right about me being very social but I learned to fit both writing and being with people into my life. 

Negative attitude:  If we have a negative attitude toward other parts of our life, we will probably carry over the same outlook in our writing world. I am grateful that I have developed a positive attitude throughout the many years of my life. It carried over to my writing. I try to see the glass half full. Do I succeed every time? No, but I do for the majority of happenings. I learned long ago that it was silly to put myself down. All it did was make me feel worse and throw cold water on my motivation. Look for the good in every situation first. That can become a habit and it's a good one to acquire. 

Relying on others' remarks:  Make your own assessment. Don't let others put you down. If someone tells you you can't, promise yourself to do whatever it is and show them that, yes, you can. 
When I was in high school, I thought that working in the advertising world would be interesting. Even then, I leaned to the writing world; writing advertising copy really appealed to me. But my dad quickly squelched that idea. "That business is way too competitive for a woman." It was the '50's and my dad was one of the original male chauvinists. I knew better than to argue with him, so I kept quite about my desire. At that time, a girl coming out of high school could aim for three careers--secretary, teacher or nurse. I became a teacher but only for a few years. A good many years went by before I finally pursued my desire to write. 

Believe in yourself first, last and foremost. You can overcome any of the above reasons for self-doubt and lack of confidence. Work on pumping yourself up rather than putting yourself down. Keep any past successes in mind to help motivate you to keep writing and submitting. If you've done it once, you can do it again. Venture out onto that slim branch in your writing world and trust yourself. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to try. 

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