Self-doubt is self-sabotage.



[Written by Steve Melio; posted by JZ]


I had a major meltdown this week, a day of intense self-doubt and emotional collapse. I’m not sure what triggered it, but it started with a vivid image of myself juggling 6 or 8 small balls simultaneously. Then I added another ball to the dizzying display with the thought, “I must handle this one, too.” Except right behind that thought was self-doubt: “Yeah, maybe you can handle it for a few more seconds, at best… you’re bound to drop one of them soon, and when you do, the whole thing will fall apart… the circle cannot hold…”

Then I added another ball. And another. And then… what came crashing down was not the spinning circle of balls, but my self-confidence. I felt totally overwhelmed and defeated. My life was too complex a juggling act, and every ball was being kept in the air with a promise and a prayer. The balls I was juggling were my life issues. Things like the legacy of two narcissistic parents. Depression and ADD. Money problems. And 30 years of recurring & unresolved conflicts in my marriage. Who was I kidding? It was ignorance, denial and dumb luck that had gotten me through so far, but I felt like my luck was about to run out… (Thank goodness ignorance & denial are renewable resources! 😉 


Thankfully, I got unstuck from this panic quickly. Even though my wife and I are living apart in a trial separation, we’re nonetheless very caring with each other. She compassionately talked me through all this by reminding me that this self-doubt wasn’t the real me, it was just my fears and the general crap I’ve hauled around since childhood.


The next day, I read a few chapters in the Rebuilding book and it had the same message for me — it’s our thoughts and fears that sabotage our self-worth, but we need to separate our fears from our true self, our core of self-love. Yeah, I know this sounds like the touchy-feely stuff I said I was going to avoid, but after the meltdown of the previous day, I knew it was true. Life lessons don’t get much clearer than that.


At my last Rebuilding class, we did exercises on exactly this topic. One exercise involved stating our fears, then rephrasing them in a series of tiny ways. In doing so, the power they held over us fell away. I’m sure I’ll need a lot of practice before I get in the habit of separating my fears from who I really am, but I’m sure going to work hard at this.


What I liked best about all of this is the realization that when you strip away your self-doubts, you’re left with a pretty darn decent person! I really like that person in me, and I’m proud of him. That’s the guy I want to introduce to the world.


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  1. Idetrorce
    Posted December 15, 2007 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

    • Steve Melio
      Posted June 24, 2009 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      On December 15, 2007, Idetrorce wrote:

      > very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

      Huh? Which of my many points don’t you agree with? Was it when I said…

      > …when you strip away your self-doubts, you’re left with a pretty darn decent person! …

      If so, I was speaking for myself. Your mileage may vary! 😉

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