Note: For ten weeks, I am using the Dream Coaching® program to work on my dream of finishing and publishing a book about my trip to Uganda, and I am reporting on my progress in my weekly column. As always, my column is posted on my blog every Friday. To read the series from the beginning, start with the introductory post, dated May 3, 2013.
I’m a lousy writer. I’m boring, repetitive, self-absorbed, and idealistic. Not only that, but my book is doomed to fail because I never finish anything I start, I’m no good at marketing and promotion, and nobody’s really interested in reading about my trip to Africa anyway.
These are some of the messages I got this week from my doubter. The doubter is that little voice inside of us that tells us early and often why we can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t pursue our dreams, and why we’re certain to fail if we try. Often, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and we don’t even realize it’s happening. We just decide that this grand dream we came up with isn’t really such a great idea after all, and maybe we’d better just forget the whole thing.
Our doubter likes the status quo. It’s comfortable with things just the way they are, and doesn’t like the idea of change. Also, it doesn’t want us to get hurt or humiliated. It wants to protect us, and is concerned about our safety, our comfort, our reputation, and our ability to pay the rent and put food on the table. Pursuing a new dream can change or challenge the way we’ve always done things, and that’s scary for our doubter. So it throws every obstacle it can in our path.
Session 5 of the Dream Coaching program is all about learning from your doubter. Not silencing your doubter, ignoring it, or trying to shut it up in some dusty little corner of your mind, but learning from it. That’s because the doubter actually has valuable and useful information that can help you achieve your dreams. You just need to “translate” the information and process it properly. When you do that, you can address your doubts and fears, and figure out ways to conquer them.
One way to do this is by interviewing your doubter. When you have a list of its objections and accusations, you can look at them in an objective and analytical way.
When my doubter tells me I’m a lousy writer, for instance, I remind it that I’ve actually got a pretty good track record in my writing, and that editing and rewriting can turn even lousy writing into brilliant writing. Someone once said, “There is no great writing, only great rewriting,” and I know this to be true.
When it tells me I never finish anything I start, I point out the many things I have completed. I also acknowledge that this book is indeed a big project, but that I’m committed to it and I’ve already taken steps that will help make sure I get it done. Marketing and promoting my book are skills I can learn, and there are people who are experts in those areas who can teach me and help me. And since many people have expressed an interest in my trip to Uganda and the work I’m doing there, I know it’s not true that no one would be interested in reading my book.
This may seem like a silly exercise, but it’s a powerful and effective one. When I remind my doubter of all these things, I am, after all, really reminding myself. This helps me get back to work on my dream instead of giving up on it, or getting distracted by something else that suddenly seems much more important.
One of the best reasons for interviewing our doubter is that once we do, we start to recognize its voice whenever we hear it. We can see it for what it really is, which is our own doubts and fears. So instead of getting derailed by them, and by the roadblocks and obstacles our doubter puts in our path, we learn how to get over them and to blast through whatever is standing between us and our dreams.
If you’re working on a dream of your own at the same time I’m working on mine, take a few minutes this week to interview your doubter. Get a pen and a notepad, then imagine your doubter as a real person. Ask why it doesn’t want you to achieve your dream, and why it thinks you will fail. Write down everything that comes to your mind. Try not to think about it as you’re writing, just get it all down. Then examine what you’ve written as objectively as you can. Notice which items and issues are limiting beliefs – judgments about yourself that you need to change – and which simply need you to create and implement steps and strategies for overcoming them. Then get back to work.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to defeat my enemy is to make him my friend.” Once you’ve made friends with your doubter, the voice that can easily keep you from pursuing your dreams will now, instead, propel you towards achieving them.
No doubt about it.
The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on June 6, 2013.
©Betty Liedtke, 2013
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