Hacking self doubt with an alternate reality game

You have an idea. You get excited with the potential, you see how it works out. You take small steps towards it, and then somehow you lose the drive. The idea wasn’t really that great. It could never happen, it’s stupid. You have another idea…

The cycle could be a bit different for you. Your internal dialogue could be different to mine, but for me the above is the surface result of my self image working against me.

The truth is that every idea is great, but it requires vision, commitment, focus, and grit to make it a reality. It also requires belief in ones abilities, and that’s the bit that I’ve always struggled with. “I’m not worth that”, “who would pay me for my knowledge, what do I know?” – all of the negative self talk, that often times I wasn’t even aware of. “I’m not good enough” is the bottom line.

I may not be “good enough”, but for some people this is motivation to improve. For me it was a turn off. I’m not good enough therefore I will work until I’m excellent in my eyes has not been my internal chat. It was always along the lines of – …therefore I should stop, give up. That’s what I did in many cases, as long as I can remember, and although I have progressed in fixing that mindset, it keeps creeping in. I don’t know about you, but it’s very debilitating, and makes achieving anything intractable.

There has been one solution that I’d come up with some years ago, that made a difference, and created lasting change. It made a dent in my negative self image through a real sense of empowerement, and it did it without much conscious effort on my part.

I’d like to share that “trick” with you, in hope that it could empower you if you feel a need for it. I’m at an early stage of developing a new venture, and my self doubt is raising its ugly head, hence I’m reaching for this solution again, knowing that it has the power to make it irrelevant.

The trick is simple, and I will explain how this works in a second.

What I do is I play what is called an ARG – Alternate Reality Game. There are many out there, and I first learned about them from Jane McGonigal. See the presentation I saw so many years ago below, to understand what they are about:


In the game I came up with, I substitute my negative self image, by imagining what a flawless avatar of me would do. My best self. I called it Life Rider.

The Life Rider is a child-like, curious, playful character that knows no boundaries, no fear, and to which failure is of no consequence. It builds a compelling vision, and goes on a quest to reach it. It wastes no time, but is patient to climb all hills and mountains of challenges and obstacles it comes across on its path. It is focused and creative. It is everything that you (or me) wished about yourself. It is your BEST SELF, as you define it. And it’s fun to be around! It’s bubbling with positive energy, always smiling, always unfazed by whatever happens.

The way it works is that by imagining that it’s not me that goes on the quest, it’s not me that sees the obstacles, I somehow remove all of my internal barriers built up inside me. I become a channel, a medium of sorts for manifesting the dreams of my Life Rider. It’s not me feeling confident, it’s this entity that lives in my imagination. I simply provide the body that goes through the motions of the tasks it needs to get done.

When I use this avatar, I feel free of all of the negative feelings – fear, guilt, shame. Instead I feel confidence, joy, and energy. It’s like being a child again. A complete detachment from the baggage that life puts on us. The effect is INSTANTANEOUS, and lasting.

To demonstrate to you how powerful this has been for me, search for “spine candles” and invariably you will come across my name.

These candles became reality because I treated their creation as a quest in the game. The inspiration came from seeing such candles in a Harry Potter film, and upon searching the web finding none.

At the time, I kept a list of ideas, to which I added daily, and needed a way to push them out into the world. The game was a way to “get out of my head”, and make an idea a reality, by HACKING my negative self image, rather than trying to change it.

It took me two and a half months to make a model of the candle, learn to make a mould, how to use it, make packaging that would protect it in shipping, and put it up for sale. I used Etsy, and because of its uniqueness it went viral on the web, and over the next year or two I sold over a hundred copies.

The end of the story could sound disapponting to some – I never made it grow, but making candles was not my goal, so I gave the model to an etsy artist in the US who makes them to order now: https://www.etsy.com/listing/159454657/large-spine-beeswax-candle?ref=pr_faveitems

My goal then was to push an idea out of my head, and I did just that.

I haven’t used the game much since, but now, when I have a new, challenging venture, self doubt has crept back in with force, to the point where I feel it in my stomach, in my heart, and in my diaphragm, my Life Rider is out to play again.

Are you struggling to find your best self? It’s already in you. Take it out to play.

If this interests you, you can check out the original blog I kept (not updated anymore) here: http://plus1living.blogspot.co.uk/

The original rule-book: Plus1living intro 007






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