From reading various hermit saints and mystics, the best way to discern doubts and to remove them from the mind, is to praise God, pray, and keep busy.
Remaining in the Order of the Present Moment occurs when we praise, pray, and do our daily work. Keeping the hands busy along with the mind, and remaining positive and thankful--how easy? Very easy, if we do not let doubts and past memories get much of a foothold in the mind.
Learning from the past is one thing, and it does not need to be a repeated lesson of reviewing over and over. Remaining in the present can be enhanced and holy, augmented by loving and beautiful memories of the past as well as by any underlying lessons well-learned...but moved onward. The details of failings or hurts ought go the way of streaks on a window when polished bright and clear, opening the view to the glories of now.
Yesterday this nothing Catholic hermit had doubts assail. Does God really want us to live austerely, to go out into the spiritual depths, to renounce various aspects of the commercial and distracting world?
While the question might be a good one to ask now and then, if the doubts begin to swell and threaten to take root, best to praise, pray, and get busy. His Real Presence will sort out the answer to one's questions, by and by.
Thus, while cutting 2"-thick styrofoam insulation board, individually fitting each between slanted ceiling joists, thoughts turned to praise and prayer while the hands kept busy measuring, cutting with a blade, fitting, and tamping in with a rubber mallet, the insulation board. The phone rang. The hermit had a discussion with the daughter about Advent and Christmas. His Real Presence spoke through the daughter, with the reminder that the hermit's thoughts had turned to Christmases past, not present. The daughter already was experiencing some of that, with her child.
Yes, yes. And the conversation turned to Mary and Joseph, and the travels to Bethlehem--not a vacation to a warm, ocean locale, not a time of physical comfort for either of them, especially not for Mary, great with child. Then the stable--after what could have been an increasingly frantic search for a decent room with cot or floor mat, shelter from the cold, food and drink.
The delightful distractions of a more commercial-type celebration of Christ's birth can yet catch an old hermit with feelings of current inadequacy toward those by need or nature, more in the world than a hermit. Vocations do vary, and there is good reason for variation. But the hermit's doubts subsided, and the questions it asked of His Real Presence were answered.
Praise His Real Presence in rejoicing even in silence. Pray unceasingly (be intimate with inner conversation with His Real Presence). Keep busy at whatever order is of the present moment, even if a nap is in order, or eating, or any manner of work or exercise, writing, thinking, and emptying out.
Yes, God does delight in our sacrifices from that which is unnecessary and for that which provides more for others, not self. God does desire us to go further into the depths of the spiritual, for that is His Way, His Truth, His Life.
As for extreme efforts, extreme is relative and conditional in degrees. What may seem extreme to one is not to another. Some have the courage and grace and practical circumstances (fewer or no familial responsibilities) to make radical changes in the externals. We all can make radical conversions toward God, in the interior of our hearts, minds, and souls.
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love one another, for God Is Love! Through, with, and in Him, we are graced to live our vocations with the zeal and radical love which is pleasing to God and inspired by Him, with outflow of goodness, here on earth below and there in heaven above.