Wisdom Dialogues with Colleen-Joy
You can’t find your way through. You feel stuck – paralysed. Things aren’t clear because of the veil of self-doubt. We all know how this feels.
If we remove only the top of a weed, leaving the root, it will grow again. So let’s understand self-doubt, making the root conscious.
When we experience self-doubt, it can feel like endless fear-based questioning, imposter syndrome, hesitating before taking action, making decisions, wondering about our feelings and identity.
- Stepping onto a stage, with heart beating fast and dry mouth because self-doubt has a grip;
- Wanting to grow a conscious abandoned business, but staring at the flickering cursor on your screen, procrastinating, failing to take decisive consistent action;
- Arguing with a loved one about self-doubts and being left with a sore heart.
Self-doubt affects all aspects of our lives. But if we treat it like an enemy, trying to kill it, we make it worse. So what can we do instead?
Let’s look at the surprising roots of self-doubt. This conscious spiritual understanding can help us to find freedom from the debilitating, power-robbing experience of self-doubt.
Here are two important teachings on self-doubt.
#1 Self-doubt is rooted in the body’s mind
Most people aren’t aware that the body has its own intelligence, a kind of thought-based operating system. You might sense this during a fight-or-flight adrenaline response.
If we pay attention, we notice that self-doubt tends to come from the body-mind.
But what if I told you that thoughts can stream from the body-mind or from the deeper wisdom of your soul.
The thoughts we hear are the ones we’re tuned in to. Why not change radio stations?
I’m sure you can tell that the texture of intuitive thought is different from the daily chatter of the mind.
Mind, has many stations, many channels, from the noisy surface mind where self-doubt lives, all the way to the depth of clarity, enlightened mind.
How can we tell whether our thoughts are coming from the egoic surface mind or the depth of wisdom?
Ego–based surface thoughts feel:
- Heavy and contracted in the body
Wisdom-based thoughts feel:
- Open and light in the body
When a thought causes a push-pull conflict, confusion, or a contracted heavy feeling, a tightening or sense of closing in the mind, heart and gut – this can indicate thoughts that arise from the surface mind. You may notice that most self-doubt feels this way.
When a thought causes a unifying, clarifying, or freeing, lighter feeling, an opening sense in the mind, heart and gut – this can indicate thoughts that arise from deeper wisdom.
Noticing that thoughts arise in you, can already bring enlightened freedom from those thoughts.
You are not in your thoughts your thoughts are in you.
What we call self-doubt is just a stream of thoughts causing tension and conflict. These self-doubt thoughts are like a song in you. You are not that which is doubting. Doubt is arising in you.
We could reason that it is more accurate to say doubt in the self rather than self-doubt.
The surface, body-based mind is created to doubt. It can feel like a curse, but it’s also a gift.
It can be helpful to doubt our thoughts about reality. Doubting, inquiring into the nature of the self and reality is an integral part of the process of enlightenment.
How to mindfully practise this?
- When self-doubt arises, lovingly be present to the effect it has on your body, noticing the closing, contracted feeling.
- By being mindful of doubt you give yourself a choice. You open possibilities. You can now choose whether to identify with these thoughts or not. To believe them or not.
You might realise, “I don’t have to identify with this. These contracted thoughts are in me. I am not in the contracted thoughts.”
Can you feel the difference?
From this space of freedom, you are now more capable of seeking and finding wisdom.
#2 Self-doubt is rooted in integrity
The second key insight about self-doubt is this. Instead of seeing self-doubt as an obstacle to get rid of, what if I told you that self-doubt comes from a place of integrity? Think about it.
Some of the most dangerous, dysfunctional minds on the planet are 100 per cent certain about everything they do and everything they believe. From cult leaders to dictators, psychopaths and sociopaths.
Those who lack integrity also lack self-doubt.
During a dark and difficult time in my life, I meditated on the crippling effect of self-doubt. I was trying to build a conscious business while looking after my very sick baby daughter amidst financial collapse. I was surprised to be shown by wisdom that I need not get rid of self-doubt but instead give it a place of honour. Why? Because it was rooted in integrity.
Self-doubt helps us check for self-honesty. It keeps the ego under scrutiny, helping us weed out false beliefs. Self-doubt is also an important part of how we enlighten the mind, freeing it from the ignorance of knowing who we truly are.
If you didn’t care about the consequences of your choices, if you didn’t care about life, you might also be free of self-doubt, joining the ranks of dysfunctional, destructive people.
“But Colleen,” you might ask, “I still want to get past the paralysing effect of self-doubt.”
It must sound crazy, but the first step is to treat self-doubt with love and compassion. To see it in a new light.
All those years ago when I saw self-doubt with wisdom, I thanked it and gave it a place in my heart letting it live next to clear knowing.
Notice as you read these words that your relationship with self-doubt may already be starting to shift.
Find the valid perspective that self-doubt brings to the table and include it in your meditation or mindful self-coaching. Then look deeper than self-doubt for wisdom. Finally, offer wisdom to your self-doubt.
Coach yourself, guide yourself, and meditate on switching from a body-mind dominance to a soul-mind dominance.
Learn how to change radio stations from body-mind, surface mind, FM to go after your deeper wisdom, because your deeper wisdom is going to resolve the doubt and not in a way that brings arrogant ego certainty.
Wisdom is about clear, open seeing. When you see clearly, the lights get switched on in the dark room. Finding your way is no longer even a question. You just walk through the room.
It’s when the room is dark and you fumble that doubt is an issue. To turn on those inner lights, find your inner wisdom.
Instead of being an older soul with so much wisdom under the surface, held back by having a blocked well in the desert, build your wisdom well. Give voice and presence to your wisdom. Let self-doubt have a place, like the rocks in your well have a place, because it comes from integrity. Then bring the water of wisdom to the surface of your life to heal.
Colleen-Joy is an author and spiritual teacher best known for her Wisdom Well Way meditation method, which you can enrol for here https://wisdomwellway.com/ and her internationally accredited InnerLifeSkills Master Coach Certification programmes https://www.innerlifeskillscourses.com/. Join her regular Zoom classes. Colleen has taught over 35 000 people in 60 countries, delivering over 4 000 classes and talks. Two documentary television features have been made about her life story and she’s been a regular expert television and press guest for over 20 years. Follow Colleen-Joy on INSTAGRAM
Read all of Collen-Joy’s Teachings in Odyssey: https://odysseymagazine.co.za/author/colleen-joy/