Doubt is a pernicious thing. It sneaks in, like a virus, and works its damage before you even realize what is happening.
Someone said something. It made me feel like I was failing. I don't like feeling that way.
I'm doing good work. Very good work, in fact. When someone sees my good work and tells me it's poor, it makes me doubt myself.
At first, I was angry. I felt hostile, combative. "Why would you question me? Why can't they see how hard I'm working?"
But the doubt seeps in. Maybe I'm not good enough. Maybe I really don't know what I'm doing. Maybe I'm turning in mediocre work and I don't even realize it's not good.
Maybe I'm failing, and I don't even know it.
I've written about this before. I was fired twice from jobs, good jobs. Both times, it was because I was 1) over my head and 2) suffering undiagnosed anxiety and panic attacks.
When you get fired from a job, it leaves a scar. Sure, you can get other jobs. But that scar never completely heals. You always have that voice in the back of your head. "Is it going to happen again? Am I doing enough? Am I safe?"
And when you start seeing the signs, you panic. Especially when it feels like your fate is out of your control. Like there's nothing you can do to stop the disaster that you see looming.
And sometimes, it's just arbitrary. I got fired once, a long time ago, because I worked at a machine shop and they had to cut costs. I was a cost cutting measure. Doesn't matter. I still felt like a failure.
I hate that feeling.
I hate doubt. Doubt in one thing - especially work, where so much of my self-confidence is embedded - leaks into all aspects of my life. It cascades. Pretty soon, I'm doubting everything I do. Maybe everything is a failure.
There are things in my life where I know, unquestioningly, that I am not failing.
I am not failing as a partner. I have the great good fortune to be in love with an amazing, brilliant, passionate woman who loves me with her whole heart. I am not failing her. I believe that I am doing everything I can to make our relationship successful.
I am not failing as a father. I believe that I'm doing everything I can for my son. I believe that, whatever is happening from day to day with him and with me, I'm doing the right things to turn him into a successful man. I believe that.
So maybe my boss will get some stupid idea in her head that I'm not cutting the mustard. That doesn't mean I'm failing. I won't fall into that spiral of doubt and shame and self-loathing again.
I am not failing. Just because someone else can't see my worth, that doesn't mean that I'm failing.
I can get another job.
I can move on and find other options.
I will survive if challenges arise. I will survive it. I can move through the challenging times and come out better on the other side. I will not let the doubt eat me alive.