Self Doubt: My Unwanted (but invited) House Guest

A familiar knock on my self-esteem’s door seems to happen when I’m making a big change, taking a risk, sharing my writing, speaking in front of groups, or accepting another layer of learning to live with the limitations of PTSD.

I would like to say that self-doubt comes uninvited to my self-esteem’s house during these transition times, but that wouldn’t be honest. I don’t believe Mr. Doubt (as I call it) would come calling unless it was invited. It may be unwanted, but since it arrived with hat in hand, I ask it to come in for tea and tell me what it thinks of me.

Outwardly, to others, it appears I have no problems learning, growing, changing, taking risks, writing books, writing articles, speaking in front of groups about living with PTSD, and working very, very hard on living with the deficits that often plague my mental health. Outwardly, I look strong and determined.

I am strong and determined; But as self-doubt sips its tea and begins to play the old tapes and drones the familiar chants of, “You’re not good enough, not worthy, not well enough, smart enough, you’re a poser,” and lists all the reasons I shouldn’t try or that I should give up, the smell of fear and rejection hang in the air between us.

Somedays I listen with respect, compassion, and a loving ear because I know self-doubt doesn’t come uninvited. But, there are other days when I’m tired or triggered and have a lot of symptoms. I can feel the sinister dark-dread begin to blacken and shred the self-esteem I have worked so hard to foster. The grasp of my thinly held mantra, that my inner beauty, strength, and talent, far outweigh any deficits I may have, begins to fade as self-doubt tries to extend tea time into a meal and a nap.

I’ve eventually heard enough, felt enough, and acknowledge that this is a pattern. Self-doubt comes when I’m on a precipice, and I can choose to entertain it longer or thank it for the visit. It usually doesn’t take me too long before I  tell Mr. Doubt that, “We’re done” and show it the door.

As soon as it’s gone, it’s easier to take control of my internal thoughts about myself and how I’m navigating the world around me. I give myself room to breathe, change, grow, share my experiences with others, and emerge from the shadows of the shame of living with PTSD. It’s often not very comfortable, but that isn’t because I’m the terrible (fill in the old-tapes) person. It is simply because that is where I am at this time in my life, this day, or even for this moment.

As this bout of self-doubt fades onto a distant shore, I understand that I may hear this familiar knock on my door again, and if I do I’ll invite it in for a cup of tea and listen with a loving, compassionate ear. Because I know, self-doubt does not come uninvited.

Artwork: Janet Rosauer

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      



57 thoughts on “Self Doubt: My Unwanted (but invited) House Guest

  1. I truly love all your writing…this one I can really identify with. Especially the part when you have so much self doubt and the PTSD or depression shows up and you have to act like all is well but you really feel like crap. I can get that way. It’s tough. real tough. your blog is inspiration to me as I recently started my own dream of starting a blog in September. I appreciate you taking a peak at my stuff. I really can’t tell you how much that boosts my confidence when I feel like just throwing in the towel. I think “I suck at this. why am I even doing it? so many better writers out there who have more important things to say.” I have to fight my own demons. A big part of me feels I have important things to say. And that this is a dream of mine. and im’ finally doing it. the other half is just bad negative self talk. I”m really grateful I found you and I love reading your work. You are so very good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What if he is one of your family member’s best friends and always gets in the door because they don’t shut it fast enough when the visit.

    Mr. Doubt stands next to that person with his arm slung over their shoulder, grins at you and says, “ I got dibs on this one. You want me gone, she’s gone also.”

    Getting toxic people out of my life is leaving me a little lonely.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for being so honest about self-doubt and fear. It can derail us so many times when we don’t even realize it. I’m looking forward to hearing when you do embark on your project, and when know that you will absolutely move beyond those old tapes. I just posted a podcast interview on my blog and I was sitting here full if self-doubt AND fear, but reading your comment just now made me take a deep breath and say okay, time to let the negative self-talk move on. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh I know self doubt well. I am about to embark and give all my gusto to a project that I have been thinking of for a decade. I know deep in my core that it is time but self doubt and fear have always kept me from persevering with this project.
    I have said good bye to self doubt today and will hold it gently as it revisits on a daily basis but feel I have the internal power to move beyond the old tapes.
    Thanks for the blog. Was good to think about self doubt today.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I totally understand what you’re saying. Its just so easy for us to play those old tapes isn’t it! Im glad you’re writing. Just getting it out on “paper” and seeing our truth is so healing and for me cathartic. Keep writing, even if no one is else reads it besides yourself, keep writing! ❤️😊

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on I Walk with a Limp and commented:
    This post couldn’t have come into my life at a better moment. I am working on my own issues of self-doubt as it relates to my writing ability and my desire to publish a collection of essays and personal stories about my trauma experience. Alexis’ words both comfort and inspire me to persevere.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I loved reading this again. I needed to be reminded that self-doubt is invited. I am in the process of writing a collection of essays and personal stories about my personal journey as a trauma survivor. It doesn’t take much for me to second-guess myself, to doubt that my words are worthy of being shared and being read by others. My low self-esteem kicks in and I think what I write isn’t “good enough” to be published. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to believe in myself.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Wonder if those nagging guests talk to each other. Maybe one day for both of us, they will say, “eh, we’re done now, lets stop coming around.” I’ll answer my own question and say, Yep…they will go! 😁

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Also a CPTSD survivor, I understand your visitor all too well, and invited or not, Mr. Doubt (as you’ve named it), comes a knocking all too often. Living with such a disorder, there are certain nagging guests that refuse to leave and entirely disappear. But, with precious time, we learn to deal with the buggers.
    Kudos to you for your multi-talents and best to you always.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Pingback: Self Doubt - Resting in the Heart

  11. Those old tapes. I wish we could have ten self destruct like in the old “Mission Impossible” tv show. Our lives would be so much easier. Mine is my eating disorder/self worth. Yours are different yet the same. Love reading your perspective. You are awesome.

    Liked by 2 people

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