How can we take something as toxic as self doubt and make it work for us, instead of against us?

I’m sitting here this morning with self doubt bubbling away. Thoughts in my head telling me there’s no point. Questioning why I’m doing this. Telling me that no-one will be interested. They’re not loud, but that doesn’t make them any less toxic or manipulative. In fact, they’re like silent arrows – and they hurt. When I sit with the feelings, I can feel the tightness in my jaws, the shallowness of my breath, the knot in my belly.

But I’m starting to learn that I have choices. I can employ some power over doubt. Not by dismissing it or fighting with it. After all, it’s doing a great job. It’s meant to be doubting – and it’s doing it really well! But doubt doesn’t have to be the enemy. It has its place and its wisdom. Sometimes it serves us well to be discerning. Sometimes it is wise to doubt someone’s motives, or trust what someone is telling us.

I have learnt that I can actually make use of doubt, to doubt doubt itself! (Ha, in your face doubt!) I can use doubt to question the doubting thoughts. When it’s telling me that there’s no point in writing this blog, or that it’s not good enough…I can use the wisdom of doubt to challenge those thoughts. I can ask myself – is that 100% true? Or is there a possibility that it is good enough and there is a point to my writing? The answer doesn’t even matter that much. Just questioning the doubting thoughts takes away some of their power over me. As I gently apply doubt to the thoughts, I can feel a softness. A spaciousness. A sigh of relief.

Doubt can feel like the enemy. It can paralyse us, stop us in our tracks, keep us small and curled up in our little box. But we can choose to see doubt differently. We can choose to befriend it, and to use its wisdom. We can use our doubt in a way that serves us, instead of letting it paralyse us. We can stay vigilant and notice when it’s running the show. We can spot when it is closing us down. Then we can sit with it. Take a breath. Feel it in our body. Feel the impact it is having on us in that very moment. We can sit with the physical discomfort of it and let it be as it is.

When doubt is trying to close us down, we can stay open to it. And by staying open to doubt, we are staying open to ourselves. We are staying open to life.

Anita Kate Garai is the author of ‘Being With Our Feelings: A Mindful Approach to Wellbeing’ coming out in 2022 (Routledge) You can follow Anita Kate on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @AnitaKateG