You’ve been doing all the practice poses leading up to sirsasana (headstand) for several weeks.
You’ve done it against a wall. You’ve even done it with bent legs without support.
Today is the day that you will straighten your legs with no support from the wall and come in to the full expression of the pose.
I can do this.
You whisper to yourself as you breath out your nerves. You place your forearms on the floor and the crown of your head follows, finding that nesting place in the cup of your interlocked fingers.
You walk your feet towards your face and slowly lift them off the ground. First your knees are bent, and then slowly, they begin to straighten. You feel confident.
It’s going to happen!
You scream excitedly in your head.
When your legs straighten completely, you get disoriented. Your body feels so heavy without a wall to lean on. Suddenly, your neck is straining and your torso is wavering. You forget what each part of your body should be doing and feel disheartened. Everything is going haywire.
You lose balance and tuck your head and roll. Thankfully you practiced how to safely come out of the pose when you lose balance.
Everything was going fine..what happened?
Later, upon some reflection, you understand what it was:
The moment you became disoriented, finding yourself in this new and challenging position, doubt crept in to your mind and took control, wreaking chaos on your progress.
Doubt is this strange word that hasn’t quite become one of those mental health “buzzwords” the way that self-care, self-talk, self-love, self-this, and self-that have.
Yet, self-doubt is just as prominent in our lives as any of these other self-concepts that we buzz about.
The above example is about attempting a difficult yoga pose, but how many times have you had this scene play out in your life?
A small dose of doubt can be healthy, even beneficial.
If you doubt whether you can really make the last few seconds of the green light while still half a block away, it’s probably a good idea to listen to it.
If you doubt whether someone would make a good partner after seeing them flip out on the waiter for getting the order wrong, that’s your gut raising a red flag.
Doubt has its time and it’s place, but it likes to over step. It likes to take over and derail any progress you’ve made. It likes to feed on your insecurities and prove them right. It has a life of its own...
...but it doesn’t have to.
It starts with seeing when it rears its selfish head. That space between It’s going to happen! and What happened? is not just an empty blip. It’s doubt, years of it, coming out in that particular moment in that particular way.
So being aware of those “blips” or “spaces” that are doubt, is the first step.
The next step is to make friends with it. If you get angry with your doubt, it’s just your fear taking on a different form.
Get to know your doubt. Pick its brain. Ask why it’s there and how you can help it.
Work with it, not against it.
Over time, Doubt will begin to lose its power. It’ll only show itself when it’s most necessary and appropriate.
Of course, it’ll still come out here and there, but at that point, you’ll have a healthy dialogue established with it and can ask it to, please, give you some space.
Doubt won’t always be happy about this, but as you keep giving it healthy attention through whatever way you explore yourself (i.e., journaling, art, talking with trusted people), it won’t be so resentful and will step away when you ask it to.
Over time, when you faced challenges like straightening your legs in a headstand, doubt will no longer be your enemy, but your loving and compassionate friend.