Friday, September 19, 2014

How to Overcome Doubt

"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for a bird to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."

"Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later and then you still have to decide what to do."

C.S. Lewis

Sometimes you don’t realize what’s happening until you’ve been hit with it.  You’re not sure why or how it happened.  It just did.  You got hit with doubt.  This isn’t doubt about your ability or your effectiveness.  You know you have the ability.  But very few others seem to know…or care.  You begin to wonder why you’re doing this. You don’t seem to have a significant audience or following or number of people who know what you’re doing.  Even some of your closest friends don’t know what you’re doing.  You’ve put in hours and hours of your own free time perfecting your craft and you haven’t seen many tangible results. Some tell you that it may take seven to ten years before you do.  Others tell you that it may take even longer.  And though you try to ignore it, still others say that you may never see the results you want.
In my own case, as a writer, I wonder if I should change my message.  Perhaps I should write about politics or celebrities.  Then I might get more attention. 
Perhaps I should learn how to market myself.
Or perhaps I should keep doing what I’m doing. 
Or perhaps I could do a combination of the last two.  (I’m not going to write about politics or celebrities.)
In the inevitable times of doubt (and, yes, they are inevitable) we each have to ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this?”
This may be the most important question in the world.  Many people, it seems, to not know why they do what they do.  Many more, it seems, have not even asked.  Perhaps the most obvious answers are enough.  “I do it for money.  I do it to support a family.  I do it because it’s my job.”
But what if none of those reasons are true?  What if you aren’t making money? What if this doesn’t support your family?  What if your family isn’t interested?
Then why are you doing this?
Here’s anther scenario:
            Perhaps there is a change or several changes you are trying to make in your life.   Perhaps you’ve already made these changes.  You want everyone to support you and believe in you.  But that won’t happen.  There will be those who criticize you.    You will be called selfish and misguided.  You may wonder if your critics are right.   Your decision will not seem clear or black and white.  Not matter what you do, it seems someone will be hurt by or not like it.  Again, we have to ask, “Why?”
Ultimately, there may be only one answer to the question of “Why?”  The answer is love – love for God, love for others, and love for self.  We do what we do out of love, if we are to truly live in our Purpose. 
Love may seem difficult at times.   It only becomes difficult when we take our eyes off love and focus on the problems.  Love may seem like work sometimes, but it’s better than doing without either.
So I look at my writing.  I look at all I’m trying to do in my life, all the changes I’m trying to make, and I realize it’s only been difficult when I’ve looked at the wrong things.  When I look at the people I love, when I look at goals I’m trying to reach, it truly doesn’t seem that difficult.
The presence of my Muse is not a problem.   Only her absence is.
So what do I with the doubt?  I think there are only three responses.
1.              I could give into it.  I could tell myself that my doubts are facts and that I should just give up.
2.              I could listen to my doubts and see if there are ways I could improve my work. 
3.              I could ignore my doubts and keep working.

I pick the second and third options.  I can always improve my work, but I’m going to keep working.  Let doubts come.  Let fears come.  Acknowledge them and then keep working.  Right now I’m working for my Muse.  I’m not working for money or attention or prestige.  Yes, I hope they will all come.  But I’m working because I love my Muse and I love what I’m doing, however imperfectly.  C.S. Lewis said, “You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.”
That is how I feel about my Muse.  She was chosen for me.  That is why doubt or fear or delays or success (or lack of it) or waiting don’t matter.  What matters is that it’s only a matter of time until I am spending my life with my Muse.  It’s only a matter of time until we reach our goals.  Until then, Get Started and Keep Going.  Then the doubts will start going, too.