Negative thoughts can take over our minds like weeds in a neglected garden. Given time, those suckers dig in deep. But while pulling a mature weed is darn near impossible without an Olympic tug-of-war team behind you, pulling a new weed is easy. The trick is to take them out when they first appear.
Perhaps the worst of these insidious thoughts is doubt. Doubt is a weed on steroids. It undermines every positive idea, project, or relationship we try to grow. It damages our foundation, steals necessary nutrients, and spoils the results. A tiny germ of doubt can multiply into full grown panic almost as fast as annoyance can turn to rage – sometimes even faster.
As a creative person, I keep a close watch for this particular intruder because nothing kills ambition quite as fast as doubt. The niggling thought that our best may not be good enough creeps in so quietly that it can take some pretty sophisticated security to catch it.
When vigilance succeeds, removing doubt is relatively simple:
- Remember past success.
- Reaffirm current determination.
- Promise ever-developing skill.
When I focus on these three things, I can ignore the heart palpitations and stomach clenches that threaten to shut down my body. All I have to do is replace the obsessive litany of defeatist thoughts that have whispered their way into my consciousness with these empowering facts and let the hard evidence of my life experience pounds the fragile tendrils of doubt to pulp.
Of course, doubt can be good.
Doubt leads us to critical analysis and healthy self-questioning. It is often the inception of vital change and improvement. Without self-doubt, we would blunder in all manner of erroneous thought and behavior. Clearly, we do not want to get rid of this important tool.
So how do we tell the difference between stimulating and debilitating doubt?
For me, it comes back to life experience.
Going back to my example of creative ambition, I remember many times when I was committed to a goal only to discover that I truly did not have the necessary talent or skill to achieve it. I even remember times when I realized that the goal, while attainable, would not bring me happiness. I look back on those realizations as examples of doubt stimulating new and better directions. But I’ve also had numerous experiences where I forged ahead in spite of debilitating doubt and fear. I think on those successes when I need to deflect negativity. And then I get back to work.