This is post two in a five-part series called ‘inside my anxious mind’, within which I am exploring my experience with different aspects of anxiety. I love to be able to shift my perspective, and hope that my writing also helps you to shift yours. In this post I will be exploring the part of my mind which is constantly questioning me, and from which arises feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness.
Every time I leave my house, I check that I turned the gas off last time I was cooking. As I’m checking, I wonder if I’m checking it correctly … maybe there’s something I’m missing. Maybe I’m not seeing things properly. Maybe I might be wrong.
As I’m leaving the house I usually trust myself, but sometimes the urge is too great – and I race back inside, just to make sure that my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me.
I have turned around countless times – even made myself late for appointments – because of this niggling doubt that sits in the back of my mind. What if I checked it wrong. What if I made it up. What if I was wrong. What if I set my house on fire.
I have come to the conclusion that ‘What if?‘s could drive me crazy … but used a different way, they could also set me free
What if I did it the way I’m supposed to, the way I always have? What if I was to trust myself? What if I was to quiet that seed of doubt that causes so much anguish? Surely it’s a simple enough request – to simply believe in yourself. To trust yourself. So why do I find it so hard?
I think it’s amazing, each time that I do this (which is at least once every day) because I can clearly see two different aspects of myself working in opposition to each other.
The calm, present, self-aware part of me knows that I have done my job. The gas has been turned off, the dishes have been dealt with and there is nothing to worry about.
Are you sure?
But then something jolts me, as though out of a trance, and asks me three little words.
“Are you sure?”
Yes! I think … did I? I must have done. I always do …. but what if I didn’t this time? What if I didn’t look properly and OH! this is unbearable, I’m going to have to check again.
It’s off. I’m walking away …
“Are you sure?”
Are you for real? I just saw it. It was off … I think. No, I’m sure – I even felt every knob to check they were all fully turned off. I think. I must have done – why would I go back to check and then not check them properly! I trust myself – I have done it.
“Are you sure?”
Yes already! I am! Now, on with the day.
This constant questioning of myself is disempowering, anxiety provoking and just plain annoying.
I realise that I must have something to learn here, otherwise I would not find it necessary to question myself in such a non-sensical way. I just wish I could grasp whatever it was and move on! Saying this, I do have a feeling about what I am trying to teach myself here.
I need to be more present with the things I am doing
I waver between the world that I cook in (and do other things too, of course) and the world of my thoughts … My mind is so very busy, that I am always coming and going from my physical reality. It’s not that I don’t like it here, it’s just that I have so many things to think about; so many ideas, so much going on and also so much inspiration. Add to this the world of my feelings – constantly aware of the subtle shifts around me, and very good at alerting me to them.
It makes sense that “Are you sure?” is acting as a safety net, pulling me back into my physical world, and reminding me that this is really where I should be when I am cooking.
In fact, “Are you sure?” isn’t the problem here … but instead my answer to this question
I don’t back myself. I doubt myself. I assume that I’m not sure, and then I invent stories and scenarios to prove myself right. “What if?” becomes a source of worry, and I run away on that train for seconds, minutes, sometimes big sections of my day.
Thing is, what if “What if?” could be the thing that sets me free. What if “What if?” could ask if I am able to trust myself?
What if I did trust myself? What if I did bring my attention a little more onto whatever it is that I’m doing? What if I could answer the next “Are you sure?” with a resounding YES!!!
I like to think that I can do this, and I’m setting out to prove myself right
Can you relate? Do you doubt yourself, put yourself down, drive yourself crazy as you constantly question yourself. The gas is only one example. I question myself with all kinds of things. I am, for example, hugely paranoid that I might not close the door of my kid’s rabbit hutch properly. I wonder if I did actually lock that door. Did I definitely put my keys in the bag? I could go on, but the point it, that if you are anything like me, chances are your self-esteem could use a boost to. I hope this article has helped!