- April 27, 2021
There’s no perfect recipe for dealing with self-doubt. Eventually, you just have to find the courage to do the things you need to do so you can get the outcomes you want. It’s simple. It’s frustratingly simple.
Sure, we might be a bit fuzzy as to exactly what we want from life, but in our heart of hearts, we know. It’s the life we’d live if we answered the cliche question, “What would you do if you knew you weren’t afraid to fail?”
Why are we so afraid to fail?
Again, we know the answer to that too, but it helps to articulate these things out so you can feel inspired to do something about it. That’s all that self-improvement content does after all.
Here’s why you’re afraid to fail. It’s also why I still feel afraid in situations I’ve yet to tackle in my own life. You’re afraid to fail because you want to avoid the intense and strong feeling of embarrassment, rejection, or feeling like a fool for thinking you had the right to in the first place. Really, that’s it.
It’s just this fleeting yet deeply painful physiological response that you’re afraid of feeling. And, the feeling itself usually doesn’t last that long. Our anticipation of the feelings associated with failure is ten times worse than the way failing actually feels, but we can experience that deep fear of anticipation in small bits every single day, so we don’t notice the cumulative effect it has on us.
In short, we continue to make tiny concessions due to fear instead of just ripping the bandaid upfront enough times to make out long-term plans work. And that’s the crazy part about it all. You suffer a lot less total pain if you just put yourself out there and experience a few tough blows over the long-term instead of a seemingly infinite number of tiny blows.
You know this, too, but as a human, you’re too wrapped up in your day-to-day experience to think that far out into the future. You worry about situations that will make you feel strong emotions in the present moment, even though you’d forget about those moments and grow stronger because of them. Situations like:
- Rejection – What really happens when you get rejected? Someone says no to you. That’s it. How do you feel when you get rejected? You feel like your entire identity and character as a human being are being called into question. You learn to deal with rejection by focusing on what truly happened versus what you felt happened.
- Embarrassment – You’re not actually worried about some particular person finding out you failed. You just have this general sense in the back of your mind that, if you fail, everyone is going to somehow know and look at you and laugh at you in unison. Of course, this won’t happen. Again, success in life is the process of continually separating objective reality from your emotions.
- Failure – You try something and you don’t get the results or outcome you expected. That’s it. Sure, in the process you might lose something tangible — money, time, or some other resources. But as long as you get to keep your main resource, your life, you can just try again. Theoretically, you could keep trying a new project, initiative, or goal until you got something to stick; that’s what you should do. But it’s hard.
Notice how my writings are just slightly different iterations of the same exact message repeated over and over and over again. I do this because the answer to self-improvement is both obvious and difficult to implement. It was difficult for me to implement years back and it’s still, in many ways, difficult for me to implement right now.
When I write to you, I’m providing you the same process I use in my own mind to reach my goals. I continue to work on deconstructing what’s really going on in the real world vs the bs stories I’m telling myself in my head. I think back to all the times I pushed through the anticipation of fear and got what I wanted. I remind myself of the truth I’m going to share with you now.
You just have to cross a few thresholds and you won’t feel so much doubt, fear, hesitation, procrastination, etc. Getting into the act of doing the things you know you need to do makes them easier to do. From daily tasks where you can get in motion just by starting, to long-term goals where the first few weeks or months create a snowball effect you can use to carry through, the only antidote to all of this is action.
Use the angles of thought as often as you need to. Let them fire you up to start taking action. Hell, even let the frustration of not taking action drive you to eventually do it. But there is no substitute for actually doing it. This is the reminder I tell myself every single day.
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