A Self-Help Deep Dive Part 2: Overcoming Self-Doubt and Avoidance
This second installment was supposed to be posted...a long time ago. What happened? Well…there are lots of excuses. In part, I blame the universe which metaphorically assaulted me repeatedly: a bad fall on my back, the worst poison ivy rash, and a terrible allergic reaction to natural deodorant- yep! Other excuses are the fact that my husband has been working long hours which leaves me with 24/7 care of our little one and then I finished an intensive 10-week writing class. But ultimately, it came down to the stagnating sentiment–“what’s the point?” Yeah, I went there. Down the rabbit’s hole of negative self-talk, tiptoeing into my tried-and-true avoidance tactics such as back-to-back romance novels, obsessing about the garden, and churning in my own restlessness. Every day I wrote in my Bullet Journal: *Complete Self-Help Part 2. But I just kept shuffling it forwards.
I suppose I can congratulate myself on my procrastination perseverance since I finally completed the task. But still, it’s been frustrating. I actually picked up two of the references from my “Self-Help Deep Dive” and thankfully they, once again, inspired me to get it together. As did figuring out that I am probably dealing with some Stay-at-home-Mom depression.
So onward and a shaky upwards toward completion of my six strategies that helped me become a less distraught human being… and probably a better spouse. You can check out the previous three here. By sharing some of my struggles, maybe something might help you too. Let’s get down to the last three inspiring texts…
#4 Stop worrying about how the world will react to your work. Do it anyway.
The Paradoxical Commandments are a list of 10 affirmations written by Keith Kent as part of a booklet for high school student leaders originally published in 1968. You have probably come across some version in your life. Even Mother Theresa had eight of the commandments posted on the wall of the Shishu Bavan children’s home in Calcutta.
Keith’s main point is–there are a million reasons not to do something, in particular, something right and good–Do it anyway. Let God and the universe sort it out. Why is this groundbreaking? Because we all worry too much about what others will think or say, or how they will react. Keith reminds us in the end “It’s doesn’t matter whether or not anybody knows or appreciates what we do—we still have to do what is right. We still have to be the best we can be. This is about us, not them. This is about how much we care, not about how much they care.” (Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments)
We can each serve the world by tapping into our God-given talents. We may not be Mother Theresa or Bill Gates, but we each can bring a little truth to the world. Hence, finishing this blog post. I will put a little truth and frankness into the world and leave the rest to God.
#5 Give voice and value to your desires.
Jen Louden is the guru of nurturing. The Women’s Comfort Book sat on my bedside table during my college years. I even wrote angst-filled pages in the accompanying journal no longer in print. In her newest book, Why Bother? Louden continues to spread her overarching message—you matter and what you want matters. Women, in general, tend to put others' needs above their own. For me, the guilt of actually wanting something for myself can feel paralyzing. But Louden reminds us, “Why bother is intimately connected to how you appreciate and value yourself and to the belief that your voice and desires matter, which allows you to connect and serve in renewed ways if you desire.”
In her book, Louden describes personal stories about her struggle with listening to and acting on her own desires. She also offers mantras, reflections, and guidance to allow desire to surface. To me, acknowledging a real desire is scary. What if I fail? What if it never happens? Failure and disappointment are parts of life. But if I don’t grip this inner desire, I know resentment and restlessness will rise. And who wants that?
6) Get clear on your deadly sin and your greatest strength.
In September 2020, we finally left our house to spend a few days at a nearby lake. At our rented cabin, the owners left a stack of reading material under the TV. A prime target for my toddler, she yanked all the books from the shelf and dispersed them around the living room. As I surveyed the literary carnage, the title of one book stood out: The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self- Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. An Ennea-what? I poured over the 9 basic personality types of the Enneagram: a personality determination similar to Meyers Briggs.
What Enneagram does that Meyers Briggs does not, is identify each person’s strengths and their fatal flaw. Cron and Stabile call it your deadly sin. For example: personality Type #2, the Helper, tends to succumb to Pride. Cron describes #2’s as people who “secretly believe other people have more needs than they do and would be lost without them.” To counteract this, 2’s should cultivate humility and acknowledge their own need.
By determining my own personality inclination and focusing on one main issue, I gained a clearer picture on how to move forward. As a Type #9 my fatal flaw is Sloth. Life gets too hard and I shut down. I knew my coping mechanism was avoidance and diversion. I just didn’t realize it was holding me back in several areas of my life. This is not something I can change easily, but I am more aware. And with awareness, I can curb my avoidant tendencies.
My strength is being able to see all sides to an argument or situation. I can easily understand the big picture. At this point, I’m not sure how that will translate to my life, but we’ll see.
A year has passed since the first lock-down of the pandemic. There have been times I wanted to throw dishes, hide under the covers, or get in the car and keep driving. But I’m lucky I have loving people around me, and God to guide me. I have survived and I am grateful for that. I will probably struggle next month and the month after that, but I’ll try to get back to these strategies and start over again. Hopefully, it will get easier to restart, and choose the positive, choose my own truth, and do it anyway. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the 10 Paradoxical Commandments:
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.