The Constant Battle Against Self-Doubt & My Thought Process To Overcome It

No matter what progression I make, there always seems to be that one day or week that I trip really hard and catch myself with my forehead on the pavement.  A single event, but usually a chain of them, occurs that strips away my blooming positive outlook.  Sometimes these mental clouds are as trivial as a business call gone awry, a rude prospect that forces me to look inward, a friend who disappears from my social media feed, an argument with a significant other, not getting my way with a service provider, or a client/friend who decides to work with someone else.  Whatever the cause, once that snowball starts rolling down the neural pathways of my noggin, a darker and more pessimistic overview can quickly take shape… What was it that I said that offended these people?  What turned them off?  Am I not likable?  Annoying?  Stupid?  Of course, in reality, it’s completely beyond my control, but being “liked” is something most of us desire.  Something, as a people pleaser, I definitely desire.  But, if you do not believe me, then go look at your own social media feeds and see how many pictures and “thoughts” you post.  Are they just any photo?  Just any thought?  Not likely, instead they are probably photos that people will view favorably, that people will “like.”  Or something that your “tribe” will “like” that will persuade the clearly unreasonable opposition to see your point of view.  Even if you are not in your own photos, one’s intent is often to paint the portrait that you are good at, in the simplest case, taking those photos.   Check out my sexy montage of #mountainscapes on my Instagram account.  Ohhhhh yeah, I’m soooo good at pictures.  Don’t you think?!?!?!  Like them all a thousand times per!!

Most people don’t want you to see them at their worst.  Maybe they feel that type of honesty would jeopardize their career or image, maybe they’re not proud of who they really are, maybe it’s fear, maybe they’re private, maybe they’re depressed, maybe, maybe, maybe… the list of reasons goes on for infinity.

I’ve met some incredibly kind people lately, but I’ve also met some vicious assholes.  Funny thing, the kind people who I have come across do not loom in my head as long as the negative interactions do.  I am unsure if this is a “me” thing or if this is human nature, but I would bet on the latter, with an exception being the small percentage of people who have broken out of that type of restrictive thinking.

IT IS PART OF THE JOB:
Everyone knows that a career salesman has many confrontations with rejection.  As we’ve all been told, it is part of the job, and one that we, as salespersons, must become fairly comfortable with and learn to overcome.  Being a salesman who has had to cold call businesses and work his way through the phone lines of Seattle’s technology industries, host open houses, sell gym memberships to people in the artery clogged state of Indiana, travel to Montana only to find his client forgot that we had a meeting (yes, that actually has happened to me more than once), etc., I have become well-adversed with rejection.  It, literally, happens more often than not and typically isn’t bothersome.  What we don’t typically get is verbally “sized-up” by some random prospect.  I had this happen recently, and although I felt I was being attacked, I do not think this individual felt as if he were attacking me.  After helping this not-so-gentleman with questions pertaining to a home he was viewing and the cost of homes in the area, he started lambasting me and told me he was “not impressed” and “not sold” on, basically, what… me?  If it was not ME that he wasn’t sold on, I missed his point, although when I asked him, he seemed to say it was not.  Oddly, I was not pitching him, I was simply assisting him, to the best of my knowledge, with his many questions, and so this came across as an insult.

“Excuse me sir, I just want to be clear, I am trying to help you with the questions you have asked by getting you the answers.  As is my job, I would love to assist you in the purchasing of this home or the sale of yours.  If I said or did something to offend you, I apologize, but I am unsure where the miscommunication here is occurring.”

He, again, said that I had not done anything wrong, but his tone was such that I had not done, at least, something.  Otherwise, what was he not sold on or impressed by?  He had expected a level of service from me that he was unsatisfied with.  I left that Open House feeling somewhat deflated, mentally going through the conversation and where I could have ventured off-piste.  I ranted to a couple of friends.  I was left ruminating on the question: What did I do wrong that would merit his response?

LOOKING INWARD & RUMINATION:
Once you start falling into the pattern of negative thinking, it makes you over analyze everything.  Was I coherent and present during the conversation we were having?  Did I come off as too pushy?  Was I impolite?  The answer is: OF COURSE I WASN’T PERFECT.  I am a pretty new agent.  To have perfected a new craft in just a little over two months does not reflect the true nature of the human learning curve.  Even just from a sales perspective, I could have controlled the conversation with more authority.  But, that’s not what I was thinking right then, that comes later, because rumination does not end at the one event that started it off, it leads to: Is that why So-&-So did not respond to my message?  Emails, phone calls, text messages, DMs, or any other attempted contact that went unresponded to start adding weight to my mental plight.  Clients that changed their mind, do the same.  All of a sudden, something that had not bothered me is bogging me down, making me doubt my capabilities… my likability… this is self doubt.  I have (temporarily) lost.

THE REALITY:
People are busy!

“I would’ve responded if they had contacted me,” I say to myself, but is that always true?  Do I miss calls and forget to text people back?
     Yes, dude, you do it all the damn time.

AND, People are dicks!

Dane, when was the last time you decided you wanted to yell at someone who really didn’t deserve being bullied?
     Uhhh….

Did you, Dane, ever lose it on a lady at Papa Murphy’s over a coupon?
     Oh shiiiit, why ya gotta bring that up? 

Did you mean to make that poor pizza maker’s night utter and pure shit or were you just irritated over a coupon policy that was out of her control?
     Well…… 

So, maybe this guy did or didn’t have a reason to talk to me like that, but, dude, just brush it off, learn from it and move on.

and, PEOPLE ARE NOT YOU:
I am unique.  You are unique.  Everybody interacts differently and has their own opinions and thoughts.  There is not one right or wrong way, there are just infinite ways and infinite outcomes.  Even the people I idolize most will have completely varying and contradictory thoughts to my own, also, they’ll have completely complimentary and similar ones.  One person’s negative opinion does not define me, nor does their positive opinion.

As much as we want people to act in a certain way, it takes some sort of voluntary or forced control to have them comply, such as an authoritarian regime or employment.  In fact, the more we push our own agenda on others or try to control them, the more others will tend to turn from it.  Don Juan DeMarco has women swoon over him while a love sick puppy repels the same ladies.  .

The loudest voices receive the harshest criticism, something to be kept in mind when we decide to speak.  If we decide to yell, we might get attention we do not want.  This is both literal and figurative.  It applies to both the three-dimensional world and the digital.  It applies to getting in political fights on Twitter, peacocking in a bar, posting a provocative photo on Instagram, claiming expertise in a particular subject, or even just holding a forward facing job where interacting with people and social media is a necessity.  Everything is subjective and not everyone’s opinion will be fair to you or I.

NOW, THAT I’VE HAD MY PITY PARTY:
And it’s a good thing I did, because then I did some thinking and if I don’t have that occasional shitty pity party, I then don’t do that thinking, and I then forget all the things I’ve been teaching myself.

  • I forgot that social media is a negative time suck, and though I need to play in this world, I, also, need to keep my wits and not fall into comparison models, the judging of others, or self-critiquing.
  • I forget to turn off the TV or video games and journal, write, meditate, exercise, and get outdoors.  The foundation that has gotten me where I am right now.
  • I forgot that my life is the only one I am in control of and that the actions of others are exactly just that: their actions.  They don’t matter to my goals.
  • I forgot that I can do whatever the fuck I want to do if I just stay on MY path.

After some reflection, I remembered my goals, and realized that, for just a second, I had let someone else’s opinion of me enter into my world and make me question it.  But, now, I’ve reframed my thinking and I also remember the cool CEO who was nice enough to respond to a LinkedIn message that I had sent him a couple weeks back about his inspirational panel discussion.  I remember the hiker I met at the top of Mailbox Peak who wrote for Powder Magazine and Teton Gravity Research, who gave me incredible feedback and advice on my writing.  Who told me to OWN IT.  I remember the clients who agreed to work with me.  The family, friends and co-workers who are rooting for and support me.  The hikes I get to go on.  Ski-days I take.  Physical feats I’ve accomplished and the ones I want to.  All of a sudden, I’m like, “hey, fuck your own doubts, dude.  And, fuck those, for lack of a better term, haters.  I’m pretty Gad damn rad!”  The fact here is that I am just jumping into something feet first and it takes time to perfect that.  It takes throwing myself into situations that I’m uncomfortable with, and that one guy who disapproved of whatever it was he disapproved of, is nothing more than an opportunity to learn how to make him my fan.  And, then, it’s like, BOOM, laser beam focus back on, until the next thing throws me off and I GET TO reevaluate everything all over again.

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane