How Shedding Self-Doubt Can Help Women Achieve Greatness

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As many of you know, I’m the problem child around these parts. Along with that role as a problem child is my reluctance to answer SBMail. It’s not that I don’t care to answer the mail, but it’s that often times I think that the answers are fairly obvious. The other reason is that typically when SBM gets asked for SBM’s opinion on a matter, the peanut gallery then tells us why our opinion isn’t valid… as if the person who asked for SBM’s opinion didn’t ask for SBM’s opinion. However, I digress.

Today, I’m turning over a new leaf! I’m going to answer the mail, but in my own way. This email came to us and I’m going to use it as the catalyst for a much broader message that I’ve been meaning to touch on lately. Let’s check out some of the highlights of the email:

I am in between a rock and a hard place. Honestly I probably know what to do, but I just want another perspective or maybe a kick in butt.  My husband is cheating. However I found out by looking through his email.  I know, I know, but before you cast me out into the bayou of dishonesty & mistrust let me explain. 

We have been married a year. After we came from our Honeymoon he was for lack of a better word mean. Just upset for no reason & finding anything to be mad at. We also didn’t have sex. Long story short this behavior catapulted my Go Go Gadget instincts and I went through his IPhone. 

I found emails from an Ex… I also found pictures & other emails from random women…. I approached him with the information even confessing my stellar detective skills. We had a huge argument & he said if I didn’t physically have the proof then I was lying…. 

Go Go Gadget made another appearance discovering more emails from the same Ex along with emails from other women from his past and present surroundings. 

… My husband is in a public position where he is held accountable to the most high. He is GREAT at what he does but if this gets out it will ruin his career. In addition some of these women he is “friends” with I have to face every week & it hurts. Furthermore, he kinda has the potential to tarnish my character using his position. The psychotic thing about it is I am still in love with my husband. 

Advice? Thoughts? Exorcisms? Life line?

Albeit seemingly the hardest thing to do is also the most essential thing to do, simply put, she must leave him. She’s very much well aware of the situation that she’s involved in and she’s very much well aware that it’s not going to change. Though it’s not easy, she must find the courage to leave him. In the courage to leave a man when you know that despite how much you love him, he does not love you in the way you deserve to be loved shows power. That power can be used to rise above all the fear associated with leaving him and having to start over.

The reason why I picked this email to respond to is because it gave me a chance to write a post on the one issue I feel plagues our Black women the most and that’s self-doubt. It’s self-doubt that keeps women in situations with men who cheat, beat, or mistreat them. Somehow they doubt that they have it in themselves to overcome that relationship; that they lack that power to go on and do great things. It’s self-doubt that makes our women wonder if they’re pretty enough, skinny enough, thick enough, dark enough, or light enough. It’s a constant vicious cycle that penetrates our women in an evil way. As a man, I sit back and look at this and I think to myself, “If you didn’t doubt yourself so much, you have no clue how powerful you could be.”

I was watching the DNC when Michelle Obama spoke and I saw Twitter and Facebook posts by many Black women who wished they had a piece of Michelle in them. I thought to myself, there’s self-doubt rearing its ugly face yet again. Each and every one of our women has that power to be Michelle. Michelle is only a true testament to what one can achieve when they remove all self-doubt in themselves. Michelle believed in herself that she had a plan for where she wanted to be in life and she went out and she achieved it. It’s self-doubt that tells us that we don’t have what it takes to be Barack or Michelle.

Self-doubt tells women that they don’t deserve the man of their dreams. Self-doubt tells women that they’re likely to be paid less than their male counterparts. Self-doubt tells women that if they’re going to be alone and broke, then they better get as many degrees as possible. Self-doubt makes women defensive, combative and destructive. It’s all these things that make a woman unattractive. Men always point to confidence in a woman, but it’s not intentional or concerted confidence. It’s when you remove the self-doubt in yourself and realize that you can do just about anything and can have just about anything that you really begin to exude confidence.

As for the reader who sent in the email that I replied to today, she’s got to overcome the self-doubt in herself that she can move onto a better situation or that she can overcome whatever her husband will try and throw at her. For you all reading this your task may be different. It may be a job that you know you’ve been in too long, it could be a group of friends that you know you’ve outgrown, or it could be a relationship that you know has lingered on too long without a title. Whatever it is, I hope that you find the strength to shed self-doubt and be awesome.

That’s all I got for today and this week. I’ll see y’all next week, same time. Cheers.

- Dr. J

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  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan.

    I agree wholeheartedly, that yes the woman needs to leave, she doesn't even need to air out dirty laundry in the process, just go as soon as possible. If you stay because you've been married a year, then you're going to stay because you've been married 3 years, then 5, then because you have kids, its a trap hole of obligation and trying to get a return on time and effort already invested

    I also agree that self doubt plagues many women, even behind the slander most brothers receive these days, there's still self doubt. Are all men really the same or do you have no confidence that you will find better? Are we brainwashed to chase long haired thick red bones or do you feel you're not worthy enough to try?
    My recent post Today’s Word is… CUFFING

    • Bananeira

      Try what exactly?

    • SweetSass

      You really need to shut your dirty mouth considering how bad you treat women. You admitted it in the last thread. No slander… you really are a mofo.

      • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan.

        I said one thing you don't agree with, and now I'm not allowed to speak again. Cool. Who hurt you sweetie
        My recent post Today’s Word is… CUFFING

    • Adonis

      I see you are getting controversial light around these parts. Fun!

  • Dee

    I'm an undercover reader of this post. I never leave comments, but I felt moved to ask a question after reading this piece. Why is self-doubt being linked to the Black woman and not to all human beings? Are you linking it to Black women because of this woman's letter?
    P.S. i don't know the Obamas personally, but something tells me they are flawed human beings too, with doubts and fears like all of us.
    Appreciate your site SBM! Good job.

    • Dr. J

      Can it be linked to all women? Yes. Do I think it plagues all women the same way it plagues Black women? No. I don't think there is a full out attack on Black women by the media, government, society, education, corporate America, etc. I think it's something that's institutionalized. It's not me trying to bash at all. It's me looking into young Black women and how I approach them when i'm doing mentoring programs in our community. Trust me, i'm on the front lines. I could talk about how white women battle anorexia and bulimia or turn to plastic surgery, but it's not affecting the same way it affects my community. I only bring this message because I care, because I think we can all be great but sometimes we have so many people trying to hold us back that we lose faith in ourselves. That's all.

  • GoldenG

    She can definitely leave without causing a fuss, I know you say you love him. But he made his choice so you have to make yours. And yes Women are vexed with feelings of self-doubt. I'm not playing the blame game but feelings stem from experiences. So there is a factor that made women that way but just because men contributed to the negative mindset doesn't mean you allow yourself to stay that way I know this sounds crazy but folks can tell when you doubt yourself because it effects your confidence and then you are off your square. Then its like how can I have confidence in you when you don't have it in yourself.

  • Peter Parker

    Yeah I definitely agree with your response to this lady. She definitely should not put up with someone not treating her like a queen. No matter what, if you not happy and have proved that your significant other is cheating, why continue and be miserable. To me, it's not even worth it.
    Self doubt amongst some of our black women is sad. If more of these black women knew their worth, they would realize the sky is the limit in whatever they want in life. Easier said than done, but what isn't in life.
    I say for the sistas with self-doubt, wake up and understand you are the queens of the universe. To the sistas who don't have this issue, keep doing you and keep shining!

  • gjames432

    Good stuff. I did want you to expound on the response to her situation though. I know the answer is simple, but still.

    What you call 'self-doubt' is called many other things by many other people. The semantics we play is a distraction, unfortunately. All in all, I do think that black women (and all people… for that matter) can benefit from increase confidence and focus. Black women indeed DO deserve the glory of their dreams and the rewards of their hard work and loving hearts. I support that Brother.

    Follow Me! @CMediaUSA
    -Gee James

    • Stephen

      I was thinking the same thing. I think the article is great but I’m seeing more fear in her than self-doubt. Her fear could be based on:

      1. Fear of her marriage failing. Understandable seeing as she’s only been married a year.
      2. Fear of what friends/family may think or, worse, how they will behave.
      3. Fear of having to start over.
      4. Fear of ruining his career and of him ruining her reputation (she says character but I’m assuming they refer to the same thing)

      Her email also possibly shows a sense of loyalty and a desire to forgive him, both of which I see as signs of strength as long as they are not rooted in that fear.

      • cynicaloptmst81

        Stephen dropping knowledge 2 days in a row, lol…

        • Stephen

          :) I’m the black Yoda.

          Fear, she is experiencing. Leave him, she must.

        • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan.

          lmao @ black Yoda
          My recent post Today’s Word is… CUFFING

        • ooh ok…

          Ha Ha! :)

      • Bree

        I agree Stephen. It's more than just self-doubt, if that. Typically what holds all people back from doing things they want to do but can't is fear.
        The other thing is leaving is easier said than done. Many times to do big things in life a good support system or a lot of money/time is needed. This woman may have neither of those things. As she mentioned in the second sentence she knows what to do. She just seems to want assurance, encouragement and confirmation. But then even when people get the right advice they still argue about it and continue to make excuses. What they really want deep down is someone to agree with them so they feel justified in doing what they want to do.
        Not sure which is the case with the poster of the question.

  • http://www.thinkprettysmart.com Ms. Smart

    First, the young woman didn’t trust her instincts–which is why she needed concrete evidence. Women are taught, from a very early age, to ignore the thing God gave to us–intuition. I’ve counseled enough survivors of horrible things to know that most of them say they had a ‘feeling’ about a person before they were hit, molested, abandoned, etc. They ignored it because they didn’t want to be rude, cause trouble, etc.

    Second, the thing that usually instills confidence of the Michelle Obama variety happens early on, usually in childhood. You have to have parent(s) and adults around you who build you up, whose eyes sparkle when you walk into the door. But then those same people have to push you to do things you aren’t sure you can do. This builds confidence. With special attention to men, you have to have a father, uncles, etc. who take special care of you as a girl. If you don’t have this, it’s difficult (but not impossible) to be super confident. I joke that I’m delusional about my ability levels in all areas. But the truth is, it’s because at NO time did my people make me feel like there was anything I couldn’t do. This was a real blessing because I see the other side of the coin all the time.

    Finally, I don’t think it’s fair to label Black women as being full of self-doubt without acknowledging how you (not you per se) Black men contribute to this self-doubt because it helps you maintain control and get your way.

    • Dr. J

      Don't doubt that Black men contribute to the self-doubt. I don't think the self-doubt is something that Black women are born with. It's external factors that cause it. However, it's that feeling of self-doubt that can hold you back.

      • Ms. Smart

        You know what? A lot of Black women don't see it as self-doubt. They see their lot in life as one of suffering, difficulty, and shouldering the weight of the world all the while commiserating with other women who feel the same. (This is where I would plug a guest post over on my blog but I'm too lazy to get the link that's tacky.) They don't even get that they don't have to be miserable. As a result, they accept misery and stay in those situations because they are convinced leaving misery in Setting A will only lead them to arriving at more misery in Setting B. It's vicious family/community heirloom for a lot of women.

        • Bree

          Or they are experiencing something called "Learned Helplessness."

    • Bree

      " Black men contribute to this self-doubt because it helps you maintain control and get your way. " This right here should be a post all by itself.

  • cancergirl08

    I don’t comment very much but this post is gold. Sometimes as women, but especially black women, we feel as if we aren’t supposed to be ‘confident.’ God forbid if you actually like yourself. And act like you like yourself. Men are encouraged to be confident. Women? Not so much. We’re supposed to make everyone else around us feel better. Not be ‘too smart’ or ‘too pretty’ for our friends and lovers. Put yourself last. Care about the opinions of others more than our own inner voice at the risk of being labeled ‘selfish.’ Gasp! Of course, that leads to resentment when we see everyone else around us is happy but us. And then…….

    “Self-doubt makes women defensive, combative and destructive. ”

    Exactly! If we had the confidence to believe that we are loveable, we would truly seek out people (not just men) that are positive reinforcements of said confidence, which is what we see with our President and First Lady. In friendship form, it might be Gayle-Oprah. :) They lift each other up and neither feels ‘threatened’ by the other’s light.

  • cynicaloptmst81

    "Pimps in the PULPIT!"

    That's the subtitle of this post, lol. Lawd, please dethrone these frauds immediately! Making You look bad…

    Self-doubt may be a huge factor but I def believe fear is the primary factor working against this woman as stated earlier.

    Also, intuition is not fact…they are messages that should be filed and compared to facts. Intuition provides illumination. Intuition can easily be intertwined with paranoia and insecurity…so you have to be careful with that.

    • cynicaloptmst81

      Ms. First Lady,

      God will NOT be mocked…which is why he's exposing this to you. I'm not telling you to leave or stay. But, you were allowed to find the proof for a reason. You have to seek God to find out what that reason is. If your husband is being arrogant and prideful…even after being faced with proof…you have to really analyze the likelihood that the future will be different without him being broken. Who presides over him? What Pastor married you? Seek counsel from them…tell them the whole truth so that both you and your husband can REALLY deal with this issue in a manner that changes your future for the better…a future full of humility and truth. You, and your congregants, deserve a leader who practices what he preaches. Don't settle…fight for yourself, your congregants, and possibly, your future family.

  • SingLikeSassy

    Dear letter writer:

    I don’t usually say this to people online that I don’t know or even people in real life that I love dearly, but I feel very strongly in this case that you should divorce your husband. I speak to you as someone who knows at least some of what you are dealing with as I was married to a man I dearly loved who turned out to be a cheater.

    Admittedly, like you, my initial response was not to run like hell and turn right at the lamp post. Marriage is a promise. You make vows to your mate, your family and your God (if you believe) to love this person and work with them through thick and thin. I thought, “maybe this is the thin.” i see you thinking that, too. If you believed in those vows when you made them and continue to try to honor them, it is hard to accept that the person you have committed to is not living up to the promises they made.

    But, know this: there is no shame in divorce. A “marriage” to someone who is cheating in this FIRST year of marriage when you two should still be making cow eyes at each other is not what you wanted, asked for, prayed for or deserve. I’ll say it again: there is no shame in divorce. You can leave this situation and you should before you get kids and debts and other things that tie you to it more permanently. Please gather your things and walk away. Don’t look back. You deserve better than this man and this “marriage.” Forget about what other people will think. They are not in this “marriage,” you are. My parents loved my husband like he was their son, but they supported me 150% when I decided to leave. They never questioned my decision, they just helped me get through it. People who love you will do the same for you.

    Whatever decision you make, I wish you the best of luck and blessings. Take care.

  • SingLikeSassy

    As for self-doubt, I agree with what Ms. Smart says that confidence is both nature and nurture with more weight going to the nurture side.

  • Beef Bacon

    Great response Dr. J! That self-doubt or doubt in general creative vicious cycles. I had to learn that it all begins in the mind and that’s where it has to quickly end. Since we are not only human but spiritual beings, which is where our trust in a Higher Power comes into play. In order to recognize how doubt begins, we have to give full credit of what is IS…spiritual warfare. That’s the enemy’s trick to keep you from your blessings. As with all spiritual warfare, you must have the proper armor to fight it. Know thyself and The Creator and cast those doubts to the side.

    Doubt among many other negative thoughts are a part of this life. Learning to quickly get beyond the negative is the key. Focusing on any negative thought will create more negativity. It’s not about never doubting, it’s about knowing why you doubt yourself and others in the first place. Ask yourself why and keep asking why until you get to the bottom and there’s your truth.

  • amaris79

    Apologies for the length.

    Ms. Letter Writer, you are in my prayers. I urge you before you do anything to make two appointments; one with a therapist, and the other with a lawyer, preferrably out of your neighborhood. You are going to have to determine FIRST what you want to accomplish BEFORE you confront your husband with your plans.And, before you say it, the "unadulterated love of your husband" is NOT an option. You are not leaving him to convince him he will not be better off without you and beg for you back, you are leaving him to LEAVE HIM and get back to whole. And another thing, tel NO ONE. Get your Katie Holmes on and move in silence. Below for why:

    • amaris79

      As for Senor J, while I do agree self-doubt is a large factor, I will also have to add that in that "shedding process" you may have to include your ASSOCIATION. We are masochists. Whenever we have a negative thought, we will very eagerly seek out people to validate it. For example, I have only watched two clips of L&HH. In one clip, Swiss' Ex has a heart to heart w' Fab's baby mama where she gently encourages her to leave. In another, Fab's BM sits with some chick who tells her to stay because she can't just go from being with a "celebrity" to being with "a teacher". Who did she listen to? listen we love to comiserate, but sometimes the dead weight just has to go if it is not contributing to your forward motion.

  • Mr. SD

    Regarding the letter, you telling me the husband showed zero signs of being a cheater prior to the marriage??? Somethings not right with this story

    • cynicaloptmst81

      Well what if he had steel wool over her eyes? You can't see through that…

      Sike, naw…I feel you here…

      • Bree

        Cyn and Mr. SD, we all know for many people who feel that unconditional and everlasting all encompassing love without a limit it is blind, as well as deaf and dumb.

        • Mr. SD

          Thats that fairytale ish..that's how u end up caught up

  • tylisa06

    Except for in extreme situations, physical abuse, drug use, child endangerment etc, I would never tell someone they need to leave their spouse. Based on whats said in this letter I definitely dont see a reason, as of a yet, to dissolve a marriage. Playing devils advocate, you said you found pictures and emails from different women, totally unacceptable, but do you know if he slept with anyone? I just dont believe in divorce until you have exhausted all options. And from your letter, it doesnt seem like you or him have done that. My advice to you is to get couples counseling, and let it all out and tell him how all this affects you. It takes two to tango, so hopefully he will be forthcoming in a more balanced situation with a therapist. It sounds like you still want your marriage, so I wish you the best.

  • Bree

    Yeah the writing may have been on the wall, but if your eyes are covered by your love you don't see it, so it becomes totally irrelevant.

  • Harinna

    I am from Mexico, I was in a relationship with john and we loved and cherished ourselves for 3 good years and every thing was going on smoothly but August 12, 2011 a day I can call a lovers day we both had misunderstanding because I answered a call from a guy that is asking me out for a date but I refused, and he told me that the relationship is over and that he is fed up with me and I begged him because I love him so much but he refused me I was so down cast and I felt the world has come to an end for me but my friend told me about a spell caster that helped her sister out in getting her relationship back, a good job and favor in any of her endeavor but at first I was scared but I have to give this man a trial because I love john very much and I am not willing to loose him to any
    woman, so I ordered returning my love spell from this great spell caster that make me a happy woman again to say it all my ex came back to me with much love and a caring heart…i am testifying to this great spell caster Dr sambol spell temple. if you need his help you can contact him on [email protected]

  • SweetSass

    This article is damaging and wrong in so many ways. It's not self doubt that makes women think they are paid less… THEY ARE ACTUALLY PAID LESS FOR THE SAME WORK. And it is illegal. But since there is virtually no way for people to know what your co-workers make without making the faux pas of asking… the problem persists. And studies have shown that when women stand up for themselves and ask for raises, they are viewed unfavorably.

    So no… sometimes sexism is the problem… not self-doubt. I hate when people try to blame the victim.

    Would you argue that racism doesn't really exist… it's just black men's whatever that causes them to be incarcerated at a higher rate?

    • Adonis

      Stop it five. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtjaBQMog0Q . The pay gap is a myth, but need to make it real

    • amaris79

      Seriously, thank you. You cannot discuss self-doubt while ignoring the looming spectre of the doubt of those AROUND you (peers, men, the media, your parents [long story] etc). There is a reason Oprah points to a woman giving her a compliment as one of the most pivotal points in her life-because up untill then, the ENTIRE WORLD told her she wasn't worth it. That is why I always make an effort to compliment every little girl I come across. not everyone is strong enough to believe in themselves when NO ONE ELSE does.

  • Adonis

    Ole girl will NOT leave because she cannot do any better. Real talk

  • luhia

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  • http://www.singleblackmale.org/2012/09/28/how-self-doubt-contributes-to-the-downfall-of-black-women/ vanessa

    i was searching one evening on the internet,because i know that good magicians are still there…but how to get them is a very big problem.after several searches for about 3 hours i inserted the last words.."real spell"into the yahoo search engine.I have a love problem and i need a magical love magic. and this email address came out [email protected] i contacted him and told him my love problem after 3 days of his spell my lover returned to me, i am still suprise to believe this will work

  • sandra

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  • Danica Thorne

    The trick is dealing with that self-doubt to begin with. Trust me when I say that it's one huge herculean task that can take virtually forever.

  • jan

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    have help a woman to get back her husband. and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a woman had a spell on my husband and he told me that he will help me and after 2days that i will have my husband back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my husband