Another walk, another chance to talk, which was filled self discovery; filled with insightful meanings. Last week was nice, in those terms.
A friendly call from a warm friend, who wanted to meet before heading back home, out of the country, that quickly transformed into one of the most insightful talks I’ve had recently.
I was happy to recieve the call, and happier still that we ended up talking about various things that conform us, and mould our daily lives. We ended up having dinner, sipping beers, walking, and sitting by the waves; all the while talking, and arguing about a notion I have about languages now; in all part thanks to Arrival. I am of the opinion that they’re something, which are limiting our experiences, and understanding of the bigger pictures that surround us.
The friend wanted to understand how did I ended up at a conclusion like that? And, wanted to know further why would I deem the coupling of linear time, and languages as the corner stone that is blocking us from changing our perception, experiences, and end up ultimately, going out as far as saying, and understanding that our perception of time being linear may be even stopping us from evolving further, at least in what I percieve as, in the right direction?
While this argument took most our time together, once it was done with, we ended up talking more about our past, and current circumstances, lives, and self doubt.
And, this post is about that last bit. Today, I believe that self doubt is not all that bad. Sure, in large, overpowering quantities, it is nothing short of crippling. But, in the right dosage, and balance, it’s quite a tool that keeps us pushing forward.
How Self Doubt Pushes Us Forward
As I mention above, in the right balance, self doubt could be a helpful tool that pushes us forward. Here’s how, with the help of a simple example; the same example that we (my friend, and I) ended up using, in front of the waves.
Let’s assume that we’re a procrastinator or that our anxiety is keeping us from doing something or doing more, and that we only have one task today, to perform / complete. Let’s say that this task can be marked as completed if we move our one foot in front of us by 5 cm. Right, I know this sounds silly, but bear with me.
It is the start of the day, and we know what we’ve to do. It’s a small, insignificant task; move any one of our feet ahead, by 5 cm. You’re full of energy, having well slept, and rested. You start by moving your feet 1 mm for a given time interval (x). Let’s say x = seconds. Thus 1 mm/m. Somewhere around the 7th millimeter, your procrastinating skills take over. You lose all interest in completing the task, for whatever else it is that ails you or distracts you. Your foot now rests at the 7th millimeter mark, while you do all the other things that you’re not supposed or you just feel exhausted to do anything else at this point in time.
Now, during the course of the day, you’ll have a voice speaking out, inside your head. It will keep at you, and it’ll keep putting you down; saying something to the tune of ‘Ha! We couldn’t even do 1 cm today!’. This voice will probably drown out all the other voices or thoughts in your mind. It will take over. And, we’ll answer this voice with something like ‘Can I even do 5 cm a day?’ or something like ‘One Day Soon It’s Going To Move By 20 cm’.
As this voice starts making us question ourselves, we’ll start feeling more exhausted, because at some point today, we’ll end up defending ourselves, arguing with, and fighting with this voice. Sometimes, we’ll even find ourselves screaming back at this voice — that we’re more than capable of finishing the task of moving our one foot by 5cms — although we’ll end up with a ‘but ______ (pretty little perfect excuse goes on here)’. This will be, at some point, followed up by some more screaming back, and committing to 10 cm or even 20 instead of 5 cm everyday.
And, if we could only try keeping up some pace with our exclamation of being able to move our foot by 10cms a day, instead of 5cms a day, then come tomorrow, our foot will not stop at the 7 mm mark. It will have stopped somewhere ahead of that; somewhere closer to the 5 cm mark.
See what happened there? The voice of self doubt, pushed us to overcommit. Yes, granted that in itself would make you feel more exhausted, and in certain situations would make you anxious like a bee without honey but, it is also true that because we challenged that voice, because we challenged ourselves, today we’ll end moving forward by more of a distance than yesterday.
As long as we don’t stop fighting with, and arguing with ourselves — fighting with the self that keeps mocking us for giving up, we’ll find ourselves balancing our self doubts. We’ll find ourselves accepting small victories by winning just one challenge, that of moving a little more ahead, cover a little more of a distance than what we have had covered yesterday. Even in such cases where we under commit, instead of overcommitting, we’ll end up delivering more. We’re are own rivals, and maybe that’s because we need one to keep moving forward, no matter the distance.
That self doubt, or for that matter anything within us that questions our motives, decisions, passes judgement, and keeps at us to just give up, that part of us just maybe is what keeps us from completely giving up. And, if that is the case, then why not embrace it. Why not keep on overcommitting, and keep on moving forward? Why not keep self doubt alive, just to push yourself a little bit more today? Why not use anxiety to move ahead more today that where you left off yesterday?