Cup of Faith - South African Christian Women Network

Podcast Episode 2 – Overcoming Self-Doubt

Facebook would have you believe that two years ago, I was at the top of my game. Each day, I’m confronted by posts from back then that leave me feeling sort of disappointed and empty.
To paint a better picture, two years ago, my husband and I had picked up a tremendous amount of work for our business. We had launched a massive project and without making the effort to market ourselves, we had an abundance of freelancing opportunities. In addition, I was constantly working to evolve my blog and had finally found a sweet spot where I was working one or two paid campaigns a month, plus getting paid to guest post for magazines and was always on the receiving end of wonderful opportunities where I got to work with brands and businesses I only ever dreamt of. The extra money helped dig us out of a hole and naively, we thought our troubles had all ended. Truthfully, though, that time of my life was fuelled by comparison, lack of confidence, my need for validation and resulted in burn out, depression and anxiety. And if you just looked a tiny bit closer, you’d have seen it was my family who was paying the biggest price.

In reality, my children lacked any sort of routine, I struggled to switch off and was constantly working, scrolling through social media or creating content. I would wake up at 7 am, worked non-stop through the day, would finish at 1 or 2 am, just to do it again.

I used to brag that the day I was in labour with my youngest, I didn’t miss a beat and managed to continue with my usual blogging schedule, fulfilling commitments and even went live with a blog post while navigating contractions. Looking back, I feel a great amount of sadness (and maybe even shame) about that time, in particular. I wish so much that I had taken the time to just be. To figure out my role, focus on doing nothing else but being a new mom to two, perhaps I should’ve slept more, bonded more, I don’t know… Just soaked it up a bit more.

In my last episode, I described last year as my season of waiting which also took away a lot of those distractions I previously had and forced me to come to terms with some harsh truths. I realized that a lot of what I was doing was for validation, acceptance and to meet someone else’s expectations of me. I realized that my need for validation runs deep within me, which affects how I feel about my body, my career, and my abilities as a mom, wife, daughter, friend and sister and my biggest challenge is stopping myself from believing the doubts my mind makes up about myself or worse, believing what I think others think of me.

An example that comes to mind is growing up, I was always a bit chubbier than the other girls. It didn’t bother me, until one day it was pointed out which very quickly became a nasty incident where a group of girls laughed and made fun of me being chubbier than them. Suddenly, I found myself thinking that maybe I am a problem and very quickly, it became a very big problem in my mind. I became so self-conscious that I’d have my mom write a letter every time we had a swimming class, saying I was on my periods because I didn’t want anyone to see my fat thighs. It’s also what lead me to take my first diet pill at the age of 9, which resulted in years of fad diets and even pushed me to use prescription meds like my cousin’s Ritalin with the hope of losing weight when I was 14.

While planning today’s episode, I happened to stumble upon an Instagram post by Jess Connoly, where she said, “Instead of saying I am a people pleaser. Try: I used to struggle with people-pleasing. Now, I make decisions that agree with this truth: I already have the approval of God through Jesus – and I am not here for the approval of humans.” Honestly, I feel like that post was written to me because for so long, I was running on this deep-rooted need to be validated and accepted which made me a natural people-pleaser and often lead me to do things that I didn’t necessarily want to, because it would keep the peace, make someone else happy or because I felt obligated to do so, in fear of confrontation, rejection or worse, disappointment.

This is something I’ve always struggled with, in fact, I remember being in grade 1 and my best friend’s mom pulling me aside in the locker room where we were getting ready for swimming when she told me that I needed to swim slower because it upset my best friend when I won the race – so I did, I swam slower and lost the race. It’s why I’d so easily hand over my homework, thinking that the popular kids were genuine about their friendships, it’s why I tried my hand at hip-hop dancing even though I don’t have any rhythm but my mom was excited about it, it’s why I breastfed my youngest for as long as I did even though I really wanted to give up earlier but was too scared of the ridicule, disappointment and shame that might have followed.

So, last year, when I lost my job, I really took it as my biggest failure. For so long, the amount of work I did was my definition of success and losing that, made me feel like I was worthless like I had failed. The result was me losing all confidence in myself which meant I didn’t have the motivation to apply for jobs, because my mind had now made me believed that no matter the role, I wasn’t good enough. I now realize that losing my job, losing my online community, being stripped of everything that I had put so much value on, pushed me closer to God and revealed just how valuable I really am.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son.” I don’t know if I had matured spiritually or if it is because I am a mom that would literally give my life for my son’s, but this verse told me everything I needed to know. I am told that I am worthy, that I am enough, that I am so loved, that God, a God who hadn’t even met me – the imperfect, broken, messy me – loved me SO much, he gave His only son.

By having everything stripped away, I was forced to go back and highlight how every dot in my story had lined up perfectly to put me right where I needed to be. Professionally, for the first time in my life, I’m in a position where I’m valued, respected and welcomed to the table but more than that, I have found confidence in myself knowing that even if this doesn’t work out, I’m resilient, resourceful and God has already equipped me with everything I need for my next season.

These days, when I feel myself slipping and falling back into old habits, I focus on seeking God’s validation and use his love as my shield.

A few days ago, I admitted that I had been avoiding my Bible because I had gotten into my own head about Bible Journaling, but that I had decided to re-read the book of Psalms because I honestly believe it’s one of the best books of the Bible. Whether you’re new to your faith journey or you’ve been singing in the church choir since the age of 3, the book of Psalms is the gift that keeps on giving.

In Psalms 3, David says, “Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” Now, the first time I read that, I thought of David’s enemies – people who mocked him, who didn’t believe in how great our God is but I spent some time meditating on this verse and can’t help but feel that sometimes, “our foes” aren’t necessarily people but rather self-doubt, anxiety, and negativity and that the secret to overcoming it, is to look at the next verse, Psalms 3 verse 3 reads, “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain.

One day, I was making dinner for my kids and my eldest complained about the way I do something. It left me feeling unexpectedly hurt. Of course, he didn’t intend on hurting me, but his criticism over something I was doing with love came as a surprise – it was sort of like, I’m giving you a bit of my heart here kid, and it’s not enough?

And then it dawned on me, I was doing the exact same thing to God, My Father.

Going back to my first example; I looked at the way I spoke about my body and treated it. God gave me this body. This body that is bigger and rounder than others, but a body that has carried, nurtured and loved two gloriously beautiful boys. A body that gets me through every day, despite me constantly telling it how much I hate it. He, my father, created THIS body. He moulded me. And here I am, complaining about it. Telling him that my body wasn’t good enough, thin enough, tall enough. I was criticising His work. What a cheek.

These thoughts of realizations started undoing years of self-doubt and negative thinking, and I started working hard to create new habits to remind myself of God’s love every day of my life.

The first thing I started doing was reading the Bible and so that I could shield myself with God’s love so that when the devil tried to tell me I wasn’t enough, I could say… But that’s not true! God not only tells me how much He loves me, but He has shown me time and time again. I made it a habit that when the little voice would say you’re not beautiful enough, smart enough, successful enough, brave enough, sexy enough, I had already read enough of His word to shout back, l am more than enough because my God says so. Because if we’re being frank, I’m not confident in myself, but I am confident in God and if God says I’m enough and that I’m more precious than jewels, well… I can’t argue!

The next thing I do is count my blessings, especially when I find myself in a deep hole of comparison. So, to go back to the example of work, whenever I’d start thinking about how little value I bring, how I don’t have a tertiary education and how no one will want to hire me, I would sit down and physically write out the reasons this isn’t true. I’d force myself to remember how God gave me the ability to process and retain information, that I have a deep love for learning new things, that I wasn’t scared of new challenges and that God had provided me with all the skills and resources I needed. In time, I started to see that all I really lacked was confidence and I was overcoming that with God’s confidence in me.

Another big adjustment that I made was cutting back the time I spend on social media. I took off weeks at a time from social media where I wouldn’t post and would log off from my account. I needed to remind myself that I didn’t owe anyone my story, that the number of likes on a photo didn’t make something any more or any less significant in my life, and that I didn’t need to justify the changes on my timeline. As much as the practical side of my brain knows it, it was a struggle to get out of the habit of constantly comparing myself to the highlight reel on my phone. Once I had taken a break, I signed back online and cleaned things up by removing accounts that made me feel less or made me second guess myself, acknowledging that I’m sure it wasn’t their intention to make me feel the way I did, but that it’s okay not to please everyone and that I can remove people from my timeline when I didn’t necessarily feel great about myself when looking at their content. I spend 90% of my day connected to the Internet; it’s my job, it’s my pass time, it’s my inspiration and a source for all things but I needed it to stop fuelling the monster of comparison and took the necessary steps to reclaim this space as my own. My feed is now filled with recipe videos, bible journaling spreads, soccer news, quotes and dog videos, and I love it!

An unexpected measure I took was I stopped buying and hoarding just for the sake of it. I had been blogging for the last 6 years, was on a lot of PR lists and had taken it upon myself to always be talking about new products. I had put this expectation on myself that I needed to constantly be creating content and was always buying something because I had made up this competition in my head to be the first with an opinion on a product, even though, I never was. My spending was irresponsible, wasteful and unnecessary. Once I had let go of all those expectations that I had been carrying around for so long, I realised that I had found the products that worked for me and I wasn’t necessarily interested in trying the latest and greatest products anymore. What’s more, I realised that my blog wasn’t making me happy and despite everyone telling me not to give it up because they enjoyed it, or because I’d regret it or because I had put so much into it, I gave it up anyway and felt a great sense of relief when I did.

Letting go of people’s expectations of me and learning to be confident in myself and who I am, because of who God made me and because I know God loves me with all my flaws has changed the way I live my life. It meant that I started chasing things because they make me genuinely happy and not because someone thinks I need it or want it or because it makes someone else supposedly happy.

Did it change everything? In a way, yes. I’m happier for it but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I still hear the soft cries of self-doubt and every now and then, it almost wins.

A good example is when I met my boss for the first time. He was down from the UK, and we were meeting up with him for the first time, despite having freelanced for him for the last 2 years. I didn’t go there with the intention of getting a job offer, in fact, my husband was the reason we were there. But on one of the nights, all our families got together, and we had a great evening. The following day, he told my husband that he wanted to hire me but not to fill the role I would have thought I’d take, instead, I’d be working closely with clients. When he spoke to me about it, he said I have a natural bubbliness about me, that I just know how to interact with clients. That was a massive compliment and something I don’t think I had ever really seen in myself. Anyway, fast forward a few months, I started my new job which I love tremendously, but in the back of my mind, I keep thinking… I’m only here because I’m bubbly. I’ve got to be bubbly. Be happier. Are you chirpy enough, today? And that’s when I’ve got to pull myself away, go back to God and let Him remind me that I’m here because of who I am, because I’m capable and I don’t need to try so hard to be anyone else but me because truthfully, my talents were noticed without me trying so hard.

It’s an everyday battle and one that I think we’re all struggling with, and maybe we’re somewhat scared to admit it. But I want to remind you that you’re not alone, that we’re all over analysing something and carrying the baggage of someone’s opinions or expectations and trying to figure out how we fit in and whether we’re good enough. I made the mistake of thinking I needed to be perfect before I would take all my problems to God but it took being stripped of just about everything that I thought was important to show me that God is waiting with arms wide open, ready to embrace me and remind me that He loves me for me.

Earlier this week, Bible Pride posted on Instagram saying, “To be deeply rooted in Christ, you must dig up those worldly roots first and say Goodbye for good.” so instead of asking how to get closer to Christ, look at what’s keeping you from Him. For me, it was the fear of rejection, self-doubt and seeking validation in the wrong places like my job and the likes on Instagram. Getting rid of those things brought me so much closer and anytime I start feeling like that negativity is creeping in, I identify what’s keeping me from God, I remove it, and I work on being Rooted in Faith, and I hope that this episode inspires you to do the same.

I’d love to know if you’ve struggled with silencing your inner voice of doubt and how you’ve managed to overcome it or whether it’s something you still struggle with? Remember you can find me and our group of talented contributors on our website as well as on Facebook and Instagram. Give us a follow and if you like this podcast, leave a review on iTunes and don’t forget to subscribe. A special thanks to everyone who listened and shared our first episode, reading your comments was such a highlight and I can’t tell you how much I appreciated every share. Thank you for your support! Until next time, goodbye.

  • Rachel
    Posted at 23:17h, 20 August Reply

    This is such a good podcast. Yes I do struggle with self doubt. And criticism hoours hard.

    • Megan Kelly Botha
      Posted at 13:20h, 21 August Reply

      Thanks Rachel! I think self-doubt is something we can all relate too! Let’s hope that together, we can also support each other in overcoming it!

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