Self Doubt, Oh That Vicious Cycle

When I was a kid I was afraid to try. And when I say “afraid to try”, I mean I was afraid to try ANYTHING new. I became a creature of habit because I was afraid of the results of branching out and exploring the vast landscapes of: friends, food, sports…girls.

My wife has often made fun of me for ordering the exact same thing every time we go to a restaurant. When I go to the grocery store I buy the same ingredients for the same meals every time. My kids are going to have a real aversion to spaghetti with meat sauce later in life.

Occasionally I’ve tried just ordering a random thing on a menu at a restaurant, more as an exercise in personal growth. Without fail I like the new dish. One would think the result of this would be an ever increasing appetite for new and varied experiences…but no, I return to the same old patterns.

Last year my wife and I went on a vacation to Mexico. I planned everything down to the last detail (no room for things to get screwed up, right?) Things went fairly well, but every time I look at deals online to return for another visit the thought of staying at a different resort makes me uneasy. The original has now been vetted, why would we want anything else, right?

My singular thinking has led me down some roads that haven’t been fun. In school I got into a vicious cycle early on: I didn’t try, so I failed. And failure, to me, meant I wasn’t good enough or capable enough. So I didn’t try. Of course at the time there was no insight into this pattern, but I can look back now and see it plain as day. Failure led me to become a procrastinator…setting me up for more failure.

Trust, faith, hope, perseverance have all been needed to break this cycle for me. I have to trust in my abilities. I have to have faith that busting out of a trusted cycle of doubt will result in something that is at least going to be OK. While none of us knows the future with certainty, we can hope that there is a future that is positive (even when just ordering a new menu item). But perseverance…that has been the real key for me.

Perseverance is something that is learned through trial and error. It really incorporates the trust, faith and hope aspects all at once. Plowing ahead through doubt towards a goal…this is an ability some people seem to be born with. For me it has been a learned skill. At age 42 I have figured out if I stick with something long enough, and give it good effort, I can accomplish most things.

Sure, building skills, education and raw talent are important. Perseverance, though…I’ll take that any day of the week.

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