I suppose today is as good as any day to write about self-doubt as I grow older. After all, there is nothing quite like fooling yourself — it is the kind of blindness that keeps us trapped in our patterns and our past, rationalizing what we are doing or not doing without even being aware that we’re trapped in our point of view.
What prompted my musings on self-doubt today? I returned from my South American trip more tired than usual. I seem to be taking longer than on previous trips to ‘bounce’ back to normal. And I am also keenly aware of having failed most of my resolutions for this trip concerning exercise and diet. Now none of this would be an issue, except for the little voice in my head that keeps screaming “This is all a reflection of my age”—particularly my low energy and aches and pains. My self-doubt is fueled by my own judgments about failing to do the things I know to do—judgments that sound remarkably like the ones that came up when I failed at exercising and diet before, and which now, as I age, are reinforced by the thought that the stakes are getting higher.
I find myself wondering whether I’m fooling myself about growing older. Maybe getting older isn’t a ‘possibility’. Maybe it is ‘downhill’ at some point. Maybe I am just in denial of my own process. As I observe this ‘internal conversation’, I am torn. Throwing in the towel and starting to look for real estate on a golf course battles with my understanding that anytime we attempt to change conventional wisdom (any aspect of our prevailing culture) we will encounter all the evidence to the contrary to suggest our vision of a different world or reality is in ‘fact’ not a possibility.
My doubts are my doubts. I can’t do much about them, since there is no evidence that what I am talking about is really possible. Yet, the ability to commit to a possibility before there is evidence for it is necessary for anything new to come into existence. So here I stand, committed to the possibility that my future and the future of others in my generation can and will be transformed—that it will become an opportunity for more love, health, happiness and self-expression than at any time in our lives. In other words, I stand in the possibility that human beings can create their ‘reality’ and the meaning they give to various phases of their lives. I stand for the possibility that age is just change, and that we can choose to experience change as inspiring and empowering or we can choose to be afraid of change and use it as a justification for our attachment to what we know and are comfortable with—the past.
Wisdom is not about ‘knowing’. Wisdom is about ‘right judgment’ and action. After all, doubts are just my ego’s internal scorecard, a way to extract various forms of self-punishment (guilt when I fail, feeling ‘lucky’ if I succeed). It’s never ‘me’ that is doubting. It’s my need for certainty and control, my fear of failing, and (of course) my attempt to find ways to avoid responsibility for my choices. I must set my doubts aside, stop punishing myself, and make the choices I make today. So today I pray for a breakthrough and renew my commitments to regular exercise, a healthy diet and continuing to grow older (and hopefully wiser) one day at a time.