This is what I do when the saboteur grabs hold of me and I lose myself in self-doubt: I wrap myself in a thick quilt of silence and walk backward as far as I can until I find a big, dark shadow to stand in, a large, tall tree to hide behind, and I sit there, far from anyone, and listen to the volume rising on the voice within me telling me I am not enough.
It would take so little to keep me from going there, so little to mute the voice of my saboteur. All I need is the proof that I have done something meaningful, or have someone look me in the eye and tell me, with clear conviction, that there is no means to measure the enormity of my worth.
But by the time I need it, I don’t allow myself to seek this proof, I am too far gone to look anyone in the eye. Shame keeps my sight locked on the ground.
And then I inhabit the shadow, and waste away my gifts, until a miracle, a sliver of sunlight, hits me and gives me just enough strength to remember I have a tool box. And I reach in with my last ounce of strength and have to pull myself along, out of the darkness, inch by inch, using every last resource, every last tool to save myself from my own self-doubts.
And I know this is exactly what happens for my clients, although they may visualize the process differently: they retreat into themselves, where the voice of self-judgment is loudest, and spiral into depression and paralysis.
But we don’t have to do that! And, just because I have the tools doesn’t mean I should create the conditions in which I need them. I can choose another way. I can recognize the voice of my saboteur, and lower the volume on it immediately! I can take the wisdom from its message, without having to accept the self-hatred and vitriol as well. And I also teach my clients how to do that, because none of us has to live in the shadow.