03/25/2013 11:42 am ET Updated May 25, 2013

Do We Ever Get Over Self-Doubt? I Used to Doubt It, But I'm Getting Over That

Why is it that when given the opportunity to say something, I suddenly have nothing to say? Well, I do, but I am too busy monitoring it for trace amounts of judgment, pomposity, ignorance, etc.

Self-rejection after self-rejection, mind frozen, wastebasket overflowing, I question what I am doing here. It seems my brain wants to turn an opportunity into yet another thing to stress about. My latest stress: writing something insightful, all while asking myself what right I have to do so. What makes me think I should be pouring out the thoughts that are rolling around in my head for others to take in and let roll around in theirs? There are no letters that come after my name that mark me as qualified for this. But I am here, so maybe this is one of those situations where I get credit for life experience.

Ugh! Self-doubt, you brute! How do you manage to slither into every crevice of my life?

Hi, my name is Lynn, and I am a hoarder! Not of stuff, though my husband would disagree, but of disapprovals that have been tossed my way. Especially those of my own creation, which like a kindergartner I hang prominently on my metaphoric refrigerator -- the keeper of my soul's food. And we all know that, "You are what you eat!" How long has this been going on? Don't go there, it has been too long! So how do I dig my way out and clean up this mess? Quick, somebody create a reality show!

While I am waiting for that to happen, maybe I should start the process. Why don't I take a look at what I no longer need and just purge. I've done it before on a smaller scale. When the hall closet becomes so cluttered that it is absolutely unmanageable, I break out the giant Hefty bag and set about throwing away what I don't want. So why is it so difficult to do that with unwanted thoughts, old baggage, and bad habits? Again, I have no official credentials that give me a certified say here, but if we are allowing for the life experience credits I have accumulated, I have a theory. Number one, we are comfortable in that space. Like an old pair of jeans, we hang onto the "broken in" until it is no longer wearable. Secondly, we fail to take stock and take charge. When something exists in our world for a significant length of time, it eventually blends with the background of our life until it is no longer visible to us. It's still there though, and maybe it shouldn't be. You know what I mean -- you have something like that going on in your life right now. There is stuff that you no longer need rattling around in your closet.

So what if instead of closing your eyes to your junk, you sat with it, looked at it honestly, admitted you no longer needed it, and saw that it is you who is allowing its presence? You would come to realize that the clean up can only fall on you. Who else should decide for you what no longer fits? Stock taken, now take charge. Be responsible for your own mess and get busy. Grab the Hefty bag and start filling it. Be strong -- there shall be no holding on to anything that is not useful. Now tie the knot tightly and toss it to the curb!

Once the old stuff that was cluttering your life is gone, move into the 21st century. Today everything is digital, and we now have delete buttons. Your slate is clean. Stay on top of your junk, and when something shows up in your life that does not serve you, see it for what it is. Junk. Press the delete button and send it on its way.

Dr. Martha MacGuffie, the woman whose life I wrote about in A Wondrous Journey: A Small Book With Big Lessons, answered a question I posed to her perfectly. When I asked her how she had managed to push aside self-doubt, negative comments, and the societal boundaries of her day to become a surgeon -- at a time when women were rarely having careers -- she answered, "I just decided." Despite the fact that she was in her late 80s when I asked her that question, and technology was not her thing, I have no doubt that she knew about delete buttons.

For more by Lynn Cluess Manzione, click here.

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