Letting Go of Self-Doubt and ‘Supposed to’

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As we arrive closer to the end of the year it provides a great opportunity for reflection on guidepost 9: ‘Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and Supposed to’ from The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr Brené Brown.

As many of us run out of steam and complain of tiredness from the long year it’s time to stop and ask, What is it that we are we tired of?

Have we been waking up to a Groundhog Day experience or have we been living a meaningful life doing things we are passionate about?

In her research it became clear to Dr Brown that the wholehearted lived a life that included engaged in what they call ‘meaningful work’. Some called it their ‘calling and others their passion.  Here are some connections she also found in her work (outlined in The Gifts of Imperfection page 112):

1.    We all have gifts and talents and when we use them we create a sense of meaning and purpose;

2.    Squandering our gifts brings distress into our lives and we pay for it emotionally and physically and become weighed down with resentment, disappointment and even grief;

3.    Sharing our gifts with the world is a powerful connection with our spirit;

4.    Using our gifts takes commitment;

5.    No one else can define what is meaningful for us;

6.    Our gifts are unique to each of us.

What she also found was the things that get in the way of us fully using our gifts and talents. The first of these is self-doubt, that little voice inside that says ‘oh that’s not really a gift, everyone can do that’. Or the burden of “supposed to’ which tells us  ‘what makes you so special that you can do what you love, just work for money like everyone else!’ or a range of other unhelpful and soul destroying comments that we barrage ourselves with.

The self-doubt and ‘Supposed to’ comments don’t go away if you ignore them, they get worse. The only way to address them is to tackle them head on by exploring the fears behind these comments.

  • What are your gifts and talents? What are you most passionate about?
  • Are you fully using them and sharing them? Are you doing what you are passionate about?
  • If not, what is holding you back?
  • What would life be like for you if you shared more of your gifts or followed your passion?

As theologian Howard Thurman says “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Until next time


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