Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Blog Challenge #9: Dealing with Self-Doubt

I'm sure we have all reached a point in our lives where everything comes into question. Am I good enough? Am I worth it? Do I deserve it? What if I fail again?

Writers deal with self-doubt all of the time and I know because I get those calls from clients when they reach the finish line, when all the words have been written and the book has really taken shape where the niggling feeling of "this is not my best work" comes into play. All it takes is one critique partner to not enthusiastically react to the work the way the author had hoped to send them into a corner, knees drawn up wondering if they should ever write another word.

Writers are not the only ones. I can't speak for other agents when I say this but I can assure you that there are many days where I wonder if I'm good enough. Can I do this? Can I really live off 15%? Can I sell this manuscript to New York? Can I get my client what they deserve? Can I... can I... can I?

My mantra on a post-it note
Truth is, I know I can. I KNOW I can do anything I set my mind to. It's written on a post-it note on my laptop. It's part of what I tell myself every morning while I "center" myself. "I can do this! I can be a better me than I was yesterday. I can do anything I have complete control over. I can. I can. I can." Problem is that self-doubt likes to creep in when circumstances beyond my control force me to change direction abruptly and while I've always prided myself in being adept at maneuvering that treacherous road in the past, I have come to understand that as I get older, it's more difficult to veer off quickly. Reflexes are not what they used to be and emotional reflexes even less so. Where I used to be able to shake off that feeling of uncertainty, now it festers for a bit as I look for a way to turn myself around.

I think the most frustrating part of self-doubt, at least for me, is that little voice in the background saying, "are you kidding me?" See, that little voice is usually broadcasting loud and clear when I'm on my "good" days about how bad-ass I am. There's never a sense of doubt when that little voice gets to take over the mic, center stage and remind everyone of what I'm able to do. It's the voice I allow front and center when I'm talking with clients, editors, coworkers, family and since it never really leaves it's frustrating to know the voice is there and I just can't hear it as loudly as I need to when I need it most.

When my clients are going through these moments of self-doubt and need someone to "talk 'em off the ledge" they call me. I don't always stroke egos but I soothe their minds and remind them of how good they are. We talk for a little while (or sometimes a long while) and I don't hang up until I know they're feeling well enough to get back to their computers and finish the book. I'm lucky to have a husband who is my "talk me down" guy. He doesn't stroke my ego either, just helps me remember who I am. Sometimes that's all we need. Someone to remind us of what we are and what we can do.


How do you deal with self-doubt? How do you combat it?