Let’s imagine for a moment that self-doubt is this cute little puppy named Tuffy.
Now having a little puppy lick you on the side while you finish your dream project is sweet. Tuffy is healthy to have when he stops you from crossing the fine line between self-confidence and arrogance.
He’s useful when he stops and makes you polish your work and enhance its effectiveness.
But soon, he starts to yell at you, petrify you.
“You should never send this out. Read it yourself. It totally sucks. Everyone’s going to laugh when you send this out”, barks Tuffy.
Just when you pride yourself in having healthy relationships, Tuffy bites your partner. Your boss praises you but you cannot hear him because…Tuffy keeps woofing in your ear.
Have you ever found Tuffy’s hair on your suit before a big presentation? No one will spot it but you cannot unsee it.
Tuffy doesn’t stroll in the parks like normal puppies. He likes to go on a walk with you in the examination hall.
You can see him, licking and breathing heavily as you write that book you’ve always wanted to.
We all carry Tuffy around in our heads. Successful owners of great running businesses, recognized artists, CEOs, your Facebook friend who has the perfect life because he has the money to travel everywhere – all of them have Tuffy in their lives too.
If you come home and feed this sweet monster puppy, he’s going to grow into a German Shepherd and eat everything you ever dream of.
“But I’m a dog person”
Whatever man, Tuffy haunts everyone.
Heck, Tuffy even makes you question if you were ever worthy of what you have achieved.
What do you do when a puppy has powers to hinder your life? Make you feel uncertain, un-confident and afraid? Makes you overthink everything you’ve done and wonder whether you’ll ever be good enough?
Look at him. Lying around, making you feel like a loser. But don’t you worry.
Let’s give this puppy something to cry about!
When I was a kid, I was afraid of dogs (TBH, I still am). Whenever I went to my best friend’s house, I was horror-struck at seeing her female dog (a bitch, no offense) sitting in the same bed as us.
I hated it when she smelled me.I hated it when she came so close. I would become restless and try to run away.
That’s when my best friend gave me an important life advice. “It’s better if you let her smell you, recognize you, come near you. The more you try escaping your fears, the more they come after you”,she said.
I called her a bitch and stood still like a mannequin.
But after a while, she went away herself. That’s when I realized that our little Tuffy is just like that.
Tuffy won’t go away, ever.
So, what can you do?
Accept that Tuffy may pop up at any time unannounced. But don’t push him away. Once you do that, he’ll pop up face-close the next time.
Let Tuffy smell you. Sometimes it’ll howl and yelp and lick your ears as well. Let him do his thing and then you can move on without paying heed to his barking.
“Tuffy keeps howling at me that I’m not good enough, but fuck it, I know better than him. I know I can do it”, say to yourself.
If you run away from dogs in fear, they chase you more, right? But what do you do when Tuffy takes up all the room in your brain and keeps coming back and forth on your lap? You ask him, hey, where have you been?
Let’s imagine for a moment that Tuffy is coming to visit you – unexpectedly, of course.
Now, try to find out where he had been all this time.
Was he locked up in a time where you were miserable because you failed at something and kept sabotaging yourself? Does he mince words of someone close that had hurt you in the past?
All of your insecurities have a root cause. Tuffy smells like the past, a rotten extinct thing you cannot let go of.
The Tuffy that keeps visiting me has the fragrance of people who have told me that I suck at what I do. When my Tuffy barks, it feels like he’s repeating the words someone had said to me four years ago.
To try and limit the time Tuffy spends with me, I try to practice mindfulness. I realize that the he is coming from the past, and not the present.
Once you have found that Tuffy is not rational because he mostly talks of the past, you can stop making fear-induced decisions. You won’t allow Tuffy to help you procrastinate and validate your insecurities.
Because let’s accept it, if you listen to Tuffy, you’re going to be fucked up. The guy sucks. He leaves you bummed most of the time when he visits.
But maybe sometimes you do listen to what Tuffy says, and oh-oh, sometimes you agree and get pissed at yourself.
Before you trash talk yourself about what Tuffy the self-doubt puppy monster said to you, let me ask; What’d you do if Tuffy shows up at a loved one’s door?
What would you say to your friend, partner or family member if he or she was bit by Tuffy?
Thought of it? Great. Now say those words to yourself.
Studies have proven again and again that self-compassion is positively correlated with a positive psychological health.
I know it’s not that easy. But when something goes wrong, what you do defines the frequency of your sessions with Tuffy later on. More often than not, we’re our worst critics.
If you feel inadequate and tell yourself that you’re a failure and you’re not good enough, Tuffy is going to get the hang of it and repeat it to you for months.
So what do you do? How do you stop being plagued by self-doubt monster puppy Tuffy? Just ask yourself this:
“What’d you do if Tuffy showed up at someone else’s door?”
Maybe you give them a tight hug. You tell them that you believe in them. Maybe you remind them how far they’ve come. Now, just repeat those for yourself.
It sounds cheesy, I know. But self-compassion is a no side effect medicine for eliminating the Tuffy disease. It’s worth it if it gets that dog out, right?
Apart from self compassion, there’s another antidote to Tuffy – your achievements.
I’m guilty of learning this method a little too late myself. But hey, better late than never, right?
Make it a ritual to write your goals AND your achievements. It’s important to move forward. But it’s equally important to be thankful for where you are right now.
Honoring your achievements might sound trivial, but it’s pinnacle for your happiness and productivity. If you see how far you’ve come, it’s hard to doubt that you cannot move ahead.
Cross off items in your to-do list only to rewrite them as “My Accomplishments.”
And please add anything else to the list you pride yourself in. Make them visible. Give yourself credit for anything you’ve achieved.
Next time when Tuffy visits you with a list full of reasons why you’re not good/smart/competent/worthy enough, flash him with a list of your accomplishments.
Seeing that, he’ll grind his teeth, squeeze his eyes and leave. That’s how you looked as a child when you had a tablespoon of cough syrup.
But what if Tuffy is the pet of someone close to you?
Where do you find Tuffy’s footprint the most?
Is it outside a friend’s house who you dread meeting? Is it outside your boss’ cabin who never gave you a compliment?
Sometimes the ones closest to you can hamper your self-confidence by constantly criticizing you.
Don’t get me wrong. I love feedback. As much as they suck, they improve me. But if you tell me there’s something wrong with me every time I come to you, it’s a goodbye.
The people you surround yourself with have a lasting impact on you. If you notice Tuffy barking at you every time you meet someone, maybe consider letting them go.
Life’s too short to have a relationship with Tuffy’s owners.
What do you do when Tuffy visits you? Tell me in the comment section below!
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