“Feeling sorry for yourself is a waste of time and effort.” This advice from Jason Redman hit hard this morning, as he recounted on a poignant podcast about his long recovery from catastrophic machine gun fire in Iraq that almost took his life, and ended his career as a Navy SEAL
To survive, Jason had to undergo 37 surgeries, receive 1,200 stitches, 200 staples, and 15 skin grafts. It wasn’t a pretty picture. Although Jason’s loss is different from what many of us have experienced, it is grieving all the same – from his physical scars, permanent damage, and loss of his career and purpose to date. And as he discussed his experiences, how he transcended the tragedy that had befallen him, it gave me the perspective I really needed that morning.
I indeed had a big case of “feeling sorry for myself”, something I am sure many have experienced through the healing process. It can be easy somedays to spend time wallowing in your loss, and this particular AM I was wearing my self-pity way too comfortably. As I took my sunrise walk melancholy, this podcast was just the reminder I needed to confront my personal pity party head on.
For me, I just left a commercial career behind and was having some serious self doubt over my new mission-based direction. I knew this was a calling for my life going forward, that all of the tragic losses and skills I had experienced to date had extreme purpose. This morning, this knowledge wasn’t helping me from feeling alone on a high wire, despite knowing I had a safety net with Him.
These concerns were on top of the background radiation I sometimes experience: doubts in my solo parenting skills and sadness around feelings of loneliness, especially in my empty house now with the girls almost 3,000 miles away in college. I’ve been to enough therapy sessions to know that these doubts manifest from my childhood and teenage years, particularly from extreme bullying I experienced and the affirmations I longed to get from my Dad that never came, but that doesn’t stop them from being triggered from time to time.
“Am I enough” … as a Parent, as a Partner and as a Growth Evangelist. This was the big question I was asking myself that morning, and asking Him as well.
For some, the self-doubt results in a falling inward, suffering through extreme sadness and depression alone.
For others the self-doubt causes a gap in the psyche, and a pursuit of something, anything tangible to fill these gaps. The bigger the self-doubt, the bigger the gaps, and the more extreme patching. Alcoholic, workaholic, shopaholic… all in the pursuit of filling these self-doubt gaps. But all of these pursuits will never be enough. .
For me, with Judy’s passing I immediately threw myself back into my work, a common long term pursuit when times got tough for me, and into a new too-soon relationship, to garner the touch and affirmations needed to help bridge the gaps.
But now with my work in transition, no longer a refuge but a source of anxiousness, and in-between relationships, the self-doubt gaps presented front and center.
Evolving from Self-Doubt
So how do you address the questions you might be having about your ability to cope, to go-on, and to eventually improve and grow?
Turning to our GRIEF model, we can look to Grace, Reflection, Intention, Elevation and Faith for step-wise guidance:
1) Grace – First, stop being so hard on yourself. Nobody is perfect, and there isn’t a manual for how to handle everything being presented to you in this unexpected go -forward life. You are doing the best you can be expected to be doing. Importantly, beyond self-grace, know that you ultimately can rely on the Grace of God, defined as the spontaneous, unmerited gift of the divine favor in salvation, and the divine influence for regeneration and sanctification.
2) Reflection – Next, a quick inventory is helpful, reflecting on how you got to these current self-doubt feelings, asking yourself these key questions:
- What are the self doubts you are having?
- Where do you think these self-doubts are ultimately coming from (and sometimes you have to look way back to childhood / teenage years to find the real source)?
- Are you indulging in “pursuits” like alcohol, drugs, work, material possessions, to cover-over these doubts?
3) Intention and Elevation – Following the advice of Jason Redman, to move from self doubt to a self improvement attitude, you can set the right intention, and then begin taking action to elevate from self-doubt to confidence. These steps should include:
- Asking for forgiveness as to your perceived shortcomings, and asking for specific grace around your self-doubt dimensions. There is something about getting these words vocalized, so verbalize this petition out loud if possible to Him.
- Forgiving those who may have hurt you in the past, and may be the original source of your self-doubt. Write out your list and verbalize the forgiveness to Him out loud.
- Getting your overall attitude going in the right direction, particularly through forward physical motion, especially exercises to get your body improving, confidence boosted, and mindset cleared to connect better spiritually and aligned to moving forward.
- Beginning to address and overcome the indulgences and addictions manifest from the self-doubt gaps. Commit to redefining your story in the exact opposite direction of these indulgences and additions – I don’t drink alcohol any longer, I need to be alone for a while to work on myself, I am a spendthrift and don’t shop any longer. And don’t just talk about your story, own it.
4) Faith – Finally, and most importantly, don’t forget about the importance of Faith.The first several steps and tips will get key elements diagnosed, oriented and moving in the right direction, but it is too easy to fall into your negative thoughts again without this last element, transitioning beyond the earthly traps.
It can be difficult to transition permanently from self-doubt to confidence unless you know you are loved infinitely by Him. When we know we have His love and we are in His good hands, that our Father has a great future planned for us to leverage the tribulations we are traversing through, then we will no longer suffer from the sadness and depression, or the guilt and seeking of the indulgences and addictions.
Once we embrace His love and faith, surrendering to Him, we really live the life He wanted for us. We can then fill the God shaped hole in our heart, and transcend from relying just on our own growth mindset and actions to solve the challenges. Taking action yourself is a great step, but transcending to relying beyond, on Him to turn our good actions into permanent healing will lead to a permanent solution to your self-doubt challenges.
It is with this self-action and transcendent Faith that you will then know, not just now, but forever, that “You are definitely enough”.