Who the hell are The Doubts and how did the get access to my brain? You know who I’m talking about, that malicious imp, Negative Mind Chatter (NMC) who starts talking every time you attempt something you’ve never done before— (Why are you even trying? You know you’re just gonna fail and fall flat on your face in front of everyone, right?).

Then there’s his sidekick, the Negative Re-Enforcer, (NRE).  After you’ve accomplish something that doesn’t quite turn out the way you hoped, he’s right there with a smug, “I told you so”

Then you have his wicked cousin, Night Shame (Completely unrelated to night sweats, though just as evil.) That’s when you lie there in bed and he parades every screw up you’ve ever made, every time you’ve hurt someone or behaved poorly, in front of your mind until your cheeks are flaming with unworthiness and shame.


Case in point, I was chosen to give a workshop at Wordstock on organizing your research called It’s All in the Details. The moment I was chosen, NMC was all like, “This is rich. A mess like you giving a class on being organized? Really?”  My desire was to really give the participants their money’s worth—that everyone in the class would walk out with something of value. I’d never given that particular workshop before and ran out of material about 25 minutes early. I rallied, held a question and answer period and asked them some questions in return. I thought it went pretty well… until NRE started in on me.  “Who do you think you are giving a workshop? Of course, you screwed up. It’s not like you have anything worth sharing. You don’t have an MFA, what makes you think you’re so smart?”

Last night after going  to bed, Night Shame snuck up on me to tell me everything I’d done wrong for the entire day. He was about to show me my entire lifetime of mistakes when I pulled the plug on him by crawling out of bed, finding my cat and listening to her purr until I fell asleep.

Not everyone has a cat so here are a few other tactics to use against the deadly triplets of self-doubt.

  • Snuggle an animal or a person. There is something about physical contact with a living, breathing creature that NMC, NER and Night Shame, absolutely hates.
  • Have a glass of wine—now a warning comes with this one– some people are more open to NMC and NRE after wine or other spirits. If you find this to be the case, be careful of self-medicating. On the upside, wine does completely shut down Night Shame because you go to sleep quicker. HA!
  • Replace the negative with the positive. Forcefully replay your accomplishments in your head whenever The Doubts sneak up on you. If Night Shame tries to remind you of a bad review, think about that awesome email you got from your editor saying she loved the changes you made. It takes some effort, but it really works!
  • Exercise. This gives rise to endorphins and a sense of achievement that shuts The Doubts right up.

Anyone else have any other tips on how to vanquish The Doubts?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles and  Free Digital Photos