What is self-doubt? What does it mean to doubt yourself? And what is this self that you doubt? When you experience self-doubt, you just experience doubt. There is rarely ever any introspective questioning. You just feel doubt. You feel uncertain. You are concerned that you might fail or that you are unworthy or incapable of meeting the challenge or completing the task. And you shy away from yourself and from whatever is stimulating the doubt on the outside. Many people live with doubt almost continuously. They try to inure themselves from the discomfort of feeling this and try to escape all of those things that stimulate their doubt and bring it to the surface.
What is this doubt and what is this self that you doubt? This is an important question because it leads you to the discovery that there are really two aspects to you. There is the personal aspect and what we call the Impersonal aspect. The personal aspect is your personal mind, which includes your personality and all of your habits, interests and idiosyncrasies. It is the part of you that you have acquired during your time so far in the world. It is all the parts of your mind that are conditioned by the world around you and by your primary relationships. It is the part of your mind that is filled with memories and has patterns of thinking and behavior, some of which are very difficult to change. This is the self that you doubt because this self is frail, uncertain and inconsistent. It has failed you, and it has deceived you. It is fully capable of presenting lies and misusing real facts for personal gain. It is deceptive. It is often dishonest. It is weak. It is conniving. It is all these things, but it is not evil. It is simply protecting itself from a world that is too large and too incomprehensible for it to comprehend or understand. It does not feel safe in the world, and so it arms itself against all anticipated threats and possibilities of loss. It arms itself against embarrassment. It arms itself against anything which might threaten its social and physical survival.
This is the personal aspect of you, and this is the self that you doubt. You have good cause to doubt it, for until it comes into service and into relationship with a Greater Power, it is alone and afraid and will misuse reality and even its own experience to defend itself against the world and against any intrusions, real or imagined. This is the personal part of your mind, and this is the self that you doubt. It is foolish and reckless to say you should not doubt yourself, for if this is the self that you identify with and that you experience moment to moment, then you should doubt it, for it will let you down.