What Makes You Doubt Yourself?

Of course you doubt yourself. All grown people do. In fact, I don’t entirely trust you if you don’t.

Here is the latest thing that made me doubt myself. It starts out with Jordan Peterson classroom footage, but ignore that. At 9:30, Dave Rubin and Jordan Peterson start discussing archetypes in movies. At about 13:15, Peterson says, “The artist shouldn’t be able exactly to say what it is he’s doing.”

That gave me pause. Sure, I’m a pantser, but this isn’t about pantsing versus plotting. It’s about whether you are primarily telling a story, or primarily illustrating an idea. And anyone, plotter or pantser, can do either. This made me ask myself, I am too heavy on theme? Are any of my characters behaving less like people and more like embodiments of an idea that I love or hate? Good questions to ask.

What have you doubted lately and how are you dealing with it?

3 thoughts on “What Makes You Doubt Yourself?

  1. Benjamin Ledford

    In my own career, I feel like I’m just a kid pretending to be a licensed professional. I’ve heard it called “Imposter Syndrome,” which may or may not be what you’re talking about, but it’s essentially the reality that almost everyone feels like they’re just faking it and that at any moment they could be discovered as imposters in their own field. It doesn’t really matter how successful you are, either. Apparently Albert Einstein and Maya Angelou both talked about feeling that way.

    On writing, heavy-handed moralizing is my big fear. I worry that my characters would just be 2-dimensional embodiments of different ideas that I’m trying to promote or refute.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Ben.

      I would say that Imposter Syndrome is a subset of self-doubt. So, sure, I was talking about that too.

      We can doubt ourselves specifically or generally, temporarily or long-term. I would say I.S. is a more general, long-term, (hopefully low-grade!) doubt. I believe it is especially common in more successful people, because they have invested more in their professional expertise, and they are immersed enough in the field to know just how much they *don’t* know. It’s also common among intelligent people, again because they realize how much they don’t know, but also possibly because they (or their subculture) have made intellect into an idol, which means they will never feel intelligent enough.

      It sounds like you write fiction? I didn’t know!

      In fiction, heavy-handed moralizing is indeed the thing to fear. It’s the thing that JP was warning against and that I was worrying about slipping into.

      You didn’t mention this, but on the extreme of self-doubt, there is Dissociation, in which people feel as if *nothing* they are experiencing is real. That’s really scary and paralyzing. That is not the kind of doubt I am advocating. 🙂 I’m talking about specific doubts of specific practices, arising from actual reasons. You know, the kind of self-doubt that keeps us on our toes and helps us improve. As G.K. Chesterton said (to paraphrase), “A man should be certain of his principles but uncertain of himself.”


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