After discussing the creation of clear boundaries with Mark, he responded with, "I'm confused." This reaction typifies those with self-doubt who have troubles with sorting and sifting. They don't trust their instincts to generate an empowering decision. Rather, self-doubters cling to their cocoon in an attempt to avoid the inevitability of appropriate action.

Mark’s grown children disapproved of a new, intimate relationship that was very important to him. Mark’s narrative was one of being intricately entwined with his children and ex-wife in a codependent relationship. In the midst of the mess, his children had become caretakers to their parents. In this way, they could soothe the emotional pain that all of them felt over the divorce. Neither Mark nor his ex-wife had processed their anger over parting ways and had leaned on their children as a means of coping.

Now, with the introduction of a new woman in Mark's life, the pot had been stirred. Mark, his ex-wife and kids aligned themselves against his new love and began sabotaging the relationship. Mark felt caught between the burden of his children’s feelings and his devotion to his girlfriend. The old "nuclear family" was coming apart, as everyone felt betrayed. In response, Mark's girlfriend began to experience the angst of split-loyalties and started revolting.

Indeed, Mark was confused. He felt caught, trapped in the middle of the maelstrom surrounding him. In sensory overload, he retreated inside looking for a place of solace. Instead, he began grappling with self-pity as a sense of victimization caused him to unravel within.

For the self-doubter, there is no centered-self. Mark would continue to internalize everyone's feelings but his own. He was too frightened to take responsibility for what he believed to be true, instead deferring to the needs and approval from others. Mark was too terrified to do the very thing that would have fostered freedom - that is, speak the truth about what he needed, whether his children liked it or not. It is the fear of rejection and abandonment that binds us from the liberation to love. Most people have not learned this truth, and consequently end up in a heap filled with great suffering, conflict, aloneness and self-blame. They miss out on life's precious pleasures because they fail to take the risk of loving seriously.

How do we shed our self-doubt and move in the direction of creating confidence? How do we find our loving, centered-self in the midst of troubles and conflict? Here are some conclusions that I've gleaned about this process:

• Set clearly defined boundaries with others.
• It is not "essential" to be loved and valued by all the significant people in your life.
• Learn to differentiate who you are from others. You can ask, "How to I feel? What do I feel? What is my perspective on things? What are my reactions to these events?"
• Recognize that pleasing others is a preference or choice, not an obligation.
• Prepare for a counter-reaction when you stick up for yourself. If others do not like what you express, learn to hold our ground.
• Never justify your perspective and refrain from over-explaining beliefs.
• Recognize that it is the fear of losing that binds us. People may disapprove of our truth, but generally will not abandon us.
• Individuate. In your search for adulthood, find out who you are a part from all the significant people in your life, including your parents.
• Practice choosing. Even if you make a wrong decision, you will feel empowered and primed to make a better one.
• Hurt and disappointment is inevitable. That being said, you might as well take the risk of loving - it feels better.

There is no need for Mark to continue to act confused. He doesn't need to choose between his new love and his grown children. He's needs to make clear to his children that he has entered into the new relationship chapter in his life and he's asking for their acceptance. If they can't grant it, he must make it clear he will not tolerate any self-serving, sabotaging behavior. Initially, his kids may react, but ultimately will gain respect for a father who knows what he wants and stands up for it. Gaining confidence over self-doubt is trusting our instincts to move forward toward what we need and want in spite of the fear of disapproval.

Author's Bio: 

James P. Krehbiel, Ed.S., LPC is an author, freelance writer and nationally certified cognitive-behavioral therapist. His most recent book, Troubled Childhood, Triumphant Life will be released on March 1st by New Horizon Press. As a result of the movie Blind-Side, there has been a groundswell of renewed interest in the impact of troubled childhoods on adult functioning. Troubled Childhood, Triumphant Life is a solution-focused guide for those who desire to break the cycle of self-defeating behavior originating from a perilous past. The reader is provided with an understanding of how negative childhood thoughts and behaviors activate problems in the present. James P. Krehbiel lays out a process that includes self-reflection, recognition, grieving, releasing one’s losses, and strategies for reframing thoughts and behaviors in the here-and-now. The author can be reached at www.krehbielcounseling.com.