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29 Nov 15

Plagued by self-doubt? Here’s what’s really going on

Wouldn’t it be lovely if your mind were obedient?

You decide to be self-employed; you decide you’ll help people with your talents; you decide to start making your product or service available – and your mind just happily came along for the ride.

From my own experience of 10+ years of self-employment, plus hearing the experiences of thousands of other dedicated men and women, the reality is often entirely different.

You get an enquiry from a prospective client and immediately you hear the self-doubt thoughts popping up:

road closed“I’m not worth paying for.”

“I’m not experienced enough.”

“I don’t really know what I’m doing.”

“I’ll get it wrong.”

“So many people are much better than me at this.”

On and on and on. Self-doubt after self-doubt, breaking in, disrupting your peace, scuppering your best intentions to make self-employment financially viable for yourself.

Is there any hope, with a mind like this?

Listening to the glitch

We were driving home from Wales recently and our sat-nav was playing up; the automated voice kept trying to take us on an alternative route: “Road ahead closed; take diversion”, “turn left”, “turn right”, “do a U-turn”.

I did pause to consider for a moment, but there were no signs that the road was closed, and because I knew the sat-nav was playing up, I just listened to the voice, my wife and I joked about it, and we ignored it. I knew that voice wasn’t on track to help me.

Don’t follow the diversion

u turnWhat if the self-doubting voices in your head are like a glitchy sat-nav – trying to do the best for you, but actually entirely misguided?

Unquestioned thoughts, just part of being human, not to be believed.

Yes, perhaps going left would have led me somewhere interesting off the M6.

Yes, perhaps your prospective client won’t go for your price. Perhaps someone will say they were disappointed. Maybe they’ll ask for a refund, bad-mouth you to a friend, ignore your special offer or unsubscribe from your email list.

But what if we just accept that – and keep focused on the route?

What if we trusted ourselves and the positive, affirming evidence we see around us? – like: feedback from previous clients or from our trainers, times when we did get paid, acknowledgements received on Facebook or by email, that quiet voice in your heart that tells you that this is what you’re meant to be doing.

Eyes forward, thanking the thoughts for sharing with you, and keeping on keeping on.

Practise the focus

Byron Katie shares a beautiful meditation that really works for me – want to try it?

Get comfortable where you are and focus on your breathing. Breath in, breath out. Then notice what thought takes your attention from your breath, thank it for sharing its life with you, and watch as it returns to where it came from. Return your focus to your breath.

There might be a new thought every 10 seconds – no problem. Just acknowledge it, thank it, give that thought a name or a picture, and watch as it drifts back to where it came from. Bring your focus back to the breath.

Nothing to fight. You don’t need to make the thoughts wrong; you don’t need to feel despair when they show up. You don’t need to engage with them or even consider them; just notice, acknowledge, let them go.

On my drive home from Wales, I didn’t yell at the sat-nav. I didn’t accuse it of being wrong or interfering. I didn’t yank it off its holder and throw it out of the window. Lovingly and with a clear head, I thanked it for sharing its thoughts with me, and stayed focused on my path.

Over to you

As ever, I love to hear your thoughts – so add your comment below, join the conversation.

Want support with your glitchy inner sat-nav?

If you want to lovingly get to know the thoughts that cause your inner turmoil, The Work of Byron Katie is an amazing way in.

Leave your name and email in the boxes below to be first to hear if and when I start sharing The Work via 1-1 sessions, workshops, courses or retreats.


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© Corrina Gordon-Barnes

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  1. Mark Westmoquette

    That’s a lovely meditation. Very simple but effective. We’ve been working on a project to translate a simple guided Zen “counting the breath” meditation into as many languages as we can. If you’d like to listen to a meditation in your own language, have a look here to see if it’s listed. All guided meditations are free.

    1. Corrina

      Thanks so much, Mark. I’ve just downloaded the counting the breath meditation that you linked to – gratefully received. The guide has a wonderfully calming voice.

  2. Stella Tomlinson

    Thank you Corrina – this is just what I need to hear at the moment. The self-doubting thoughts have been getting a bit loud of late!

    I practise mindfulness meditation every day – so I’ve been doing a lot of watching those sneaky thoughts creeping up on me…

    Love the analogy of those thoughts being like a faulty sat nav 🙂 I’m definitely going to use that technique!

    So looking forward to hearing about your new ventures,
    Stella xx
    Stella Tomlinson´s last blog post ..Feeling the change of season blues? You’re not alone.

    1. Corrina

      Stella – Wonderful that you practise mindfulness and share that gift with your students. Thank you for being part of this community.

  3. Hanna Cooper

    Loved this post, Corrina – very helpful as I take a big step today. So true that just because we have a thought, it doesn’t mean we have to believe it. Whether it’s an external or internal navigation system, we choose the markers of success that guide us the right way.

    1. Corrina

      Hanna – That’s been such an important insight as I practise The Work of Byron Katie: here are thoughts, it doesn’t mean they’re true, it doesn’t mean I have to believe them – exactly as you say. All love to you as you take your big step.

  4. Stephanie

    Thank you Corrina! This was much needed today. The self-doubt has been paralyzing for the last couple of weeks and I’ve been struggling to find a way through it. This gentle approach is what I’ve been missing.
    Stephanie´s last blog post ..What I’ve been reading this fall

    1. Corrina

      Stephanie – Grateful that this story and accompanying insights came through me to share with you.

      I love this question from Byron Katie: “Are you okay, right now, other than what you’re thinking and believing?”

  5. Kerensa Martin

    Thank you, very much, Corrina, for this wonderfully simple analogy. It makes such solid sense. Thank you for that guide. You’re an angel.

    1. Corrina

      Kerensa – You’re so welcome. And thank YOU for the connection with your colleague; fingers crossed for a gorgeously relaxing massage very soon.

  6. Carisa

    I love this! Thinking about it in terms of not having to judge those thoughts or myself for having them, but just acknowledging them, thanking them and releasing them. And then repeat. So good to remember that it doesn’t have to be a struggle. I know a lot of times I have a temptation to beat myself up for falling back into a pattern when I think I’ve finally overcome it. So much healthier instead to just acknowledge, thank and release. Thank you for this; it came at the perfect time.

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