A story by Heather McDougall
Doubt is an expression of fear. Anytime I do something I’m new to or something that requires me to expand my energy output, fear creeps in. This is human nature. In my language, fear is my ego (my human identity, or small “s” self,) trying to keep me what it recognizes as safe. It knows the present moment, and anything that disrupts what it knows is a threat. So, fear triggers self-doubt.
Doubt and Fear serve evolutionary purposes to keep us safe. But, so often that’s all it is, an evolutionary purpose that doesn’t serve me in personal growth. Deciphering good doubt versus bad, damaging doubt can be tricky.
Good doubt, for me, is an intuitive gut check that asks me to feel into the direction rather than analyze the logic of something. It is nuanced, for sure, and is a constant practice.
Bad Doubt is a monster. It approaches my emotions with a loving embrace, tricking me into thinking it cares or knows my best interest. If I let it in, it can spiral quickly into doubtful self-talk. The energy of this Doubt Monster is heavy and shrinks my heart’s reach. It relies on my brain rather than intuition to convince me of a reality that keeps me from growth.
In the past year, I’ve been navigating a transition of growth in my life. I realized I’d let myself get a bit stuck in founder-bootstrap mode of my sustainable lifestyle company. We’d made leaps of progress, and led several rounds of successful fundraising, but my day to day work was largely the same. I was unhappy and burned out. It was time for me to evolve my role into the next stages of the vision and purpose of our company’s work, to build a team and step more into the light and share my voice.
“One day, I was so angry at the doubt and I was drawn to my flip chart and just started drawing my doubt monster”.
This realization came from my gut. I’d been feeling it for quite a long time, but I was in a mode of just getting things done and convinced myself that I could work my way out. When that strategy wasn’t working, I hired a coach and started to identify the role of fear and doubt in my life.
Since then, I’ve uncovered many bits of self confidence that I’d buried under false narratives without even realizing it. When I started to step out of those narratives and tell the vision that was eager to come out, I experienced strong doubt.
One day, I was so angry at the doubt and I was drawn to my flip chart and just started drawing my doubt monster.
There was something therapeutic about seeing doubt as a personification. I’m sure some of the inspiration for the drawing was from a technique I use to calm the doubt by talking to it. I say and write things like, “thank you, Doubt, for trying to keep me safe. I am safe to trust my intuition and step into this new light. You, Doubt, can soften and transform into love and trust of myself.”
Visualizing doubt as my Doubt Monster reminds me that it is not real. It’s an imaginary creature that is taking up valuable creative space.
These tools have helped me develop a quicker recognition of when doubt is entering my energy and thoughts. The sooner I recognize the doubt, the sooner I can soothe and transform it.
Of course it still holds on to me sometimes. That’s the nature of growth as a human. But, when I think of the Doubt Monster’s trick into it’s dark and cloudy heart, I know the doubt path is not for me.