Beyond Doubt

“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” 

― Bertrand Russell

In Innerwealth Coaching sessions, doubt is the single most common cause of personal distress. Personally, i have found it a real nuisance in my life and have had to overcome it with a significant effort.

The thing about doubt is that we don’t have it until something really important comes up that threatens us. And this thing, the doubt causing situation is so different for everyone. It’s as unique as our values.

Walking in the Himalayas on my first trip, I too had doubt. Now I don’t but I have real compassion for those who do. My leadership is defined by the amount of doubt I can unload from those on my trek. If they have big doubt, it’s not their fault. It’s mine.

My level of calm and certainty, my ability to implement plan b fastest, my empathy for their struggles and my compassion for their doubts give what is called, transference. One can transfer their doubts onto the shoulders of another for most of the journey. But, there are times when even a leader cannot take that load on board.

Imagine walking across an old, narrow, flimsy, wooden planked rope bridge, 200m above a raging river. Now, doubts can come and it becomes personal. As a leader I might go out on that bridge and dance, jump, hop and show that it’s safe, leading by example, being one step ahead, not being in the doubt but separate from it. This is an extreme help. But still, it comes down to that individual to work through their fears. Fears and doubt are the same topic.

“For so many years I lived in constant terror of myself. Doubt had married my fear and moved into my mind, where it built castles and ruled kingdoms and reigned over me, bowing my will to its whispers until I was little more than an acquiescing peon, too terrified to disobey, too terrified to disagree. I had been shackled, a prisoner in my own mind.

But finally, finally, I have learned to break free.” 

― Tahereh Mafi, Ignite Me

Does fear come from doubt or does doubt come from fear? The chicken and the egg. Well the answer is very very clear. Doubt comes from fear. And fear comes as a result of an uncertainty about the future. We can’t fear the past. We can only fear the future and therefore doubt is always about the future.

“Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.” 

― George Carlin

If we did not fear death, then the bridge would be an easy thing to cross. Nothing to fear, then doubt would not be there. But I think that doubt and fear must be handled differently. The Innerwealth quick answer to fear is to be in the moment where the future cannot intrude. Right now, right in this moment in time, fear cannot exist. Fear of the future demands an awareness of what might go wrong in the future. The longer term answer to fear requires more dualistic approach to it, finding the benefits and drawbacks of a future event or a past memory will erase long term fears.

BUT DOUBT IS DIFFERENT

Doubt is a cancer. A mind, body and spirit cancer that eats away at our sense of self. It changes our actions toward others, it corrupts our commitments and distracts our enjoyments. Doubt brings with it a great luggage of insecurity, lost public confidence and suspicion that can even create itself. Doubt is a virus that spreads through every corner of our being. Hence, it needs to be managed for success and happiness and health to be our natural state.

“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” 

― René Descartes

The more we identify with something, the more we breed doubt in ourselves. My whole life has been spent in pursuit of “Self” – a sense of Self that does not dissolve under loss or threat or failure or success. I’ve had plenty of tests to see whether my discoveries have worked for me. Most didn’t work under real pressure but were perfect in solitude. That’s not the game of dealing with doubt. In fact, when I found a doubt free way of being that could only function in the magical isolation of retreat or ashram or temple it actually made my self doubt back in the real world worse.

The ultimate solution for doubt is to become its friend. Doubt is not an enemy. Doubt shows you where you are not being yourself, where you are attaching to something to validate yourself. If you take the quote:

There’s nothing you’ve done or not done that’s not worthy of love…

Chris Walker

you come to realise that doubt tells you where you actually don’t believe it.

My first keynote I peed my pants. Really, I was 35 years old and had never ever stood up in front of an audience and spoken. I’d sung to hundreds and MC’d weddings but those were roles where I was a “character” in a floor show and that for me was so easy, it was basically how I lived my whole life. But I was so filled with doubt, I had no confidence that the “real me” was worthy of love.

I sought that reassurance in relationships and wealth, success in sport and all manner of misbehaviour. But doubt came with me on every summit. Happiness and pleasure, success and victory only lasted until sundown and the next day, I was my self doubting Self again.

Now, I have mastered doubt. I realise, from walking in the magnificent mountains and failing and succeeding in sport and business and hurting and laughing and whatever, that at the end of the day, I am me. I haven’t changed. Everything will be ok… Now, I say, “let my doubts be cleared” and they pass through me like a warm summer breeze. I simply say:

I need nothing,

I want nothing,

And therefore I have everything

Chris Walker

What this means is that doubt is my friend. It shows me what I’ve attached to in order to seek validation, a sign in itself that I may be falling short on Self – the me that’s me before I try to be something else.

I found a few ideas about dealing with doubt from some other people. I have no doubt you’ll enjoy reading it. (actually, I’m ok if you don’t )

  1. Think, “In a thousand years who’s going to care?” ~Shaec Cooper
  2. Focus on the good in your life, reflect on your past achievements, and look to your mentors and all they have achieved. ~Tiscanny Derksen
  3. Tell yourself, “If I don’t try then I’ll never know. Don’t doubt yourself. You are a perfect example of talent and beauty.” ~Annie Pryatel
  4. My mantra for this year: My abilities will always outweigh my doubts. The moment when I think I can’t is the moment that I can.” ~Lissa Rae
  5. The moment you feel it creeping in, it’s time to act. Get involved and let experience prove you wrong. ~Hector Peguero
  6. Acknowledge them but don’t invest in them. Then move on. ~Ray Benoit
  7. Ask where the doubt stems from. Is it your intuitive self or your fearful self? Ask that question and listen to the very first thought that comes into your head. Believe that one. ~Wendy Chadwick
  8. When in doubt, zoom out. If you doubt all the time, you need to zoom out to the big picture. ~Mary Mecca
  9. Ask yourself, “What will happen if I doubt this doubt?” ~Gareth Stubbs
  10. What’s the worst that could happen if you do what you feel doubtful about? Is that something you can deal with? Then do it! Most of our worries are a waste of time. What will happen, will happen. ~Kate Roselund
  11. Put one foot in front of the other and keep going. ~Roze Quartz
  12. Learn to live with them comfortably. ~Esteban Cabral
  13. Realize that doubts are fear, and fear is: Forgetting Everything’s All Right. ~Sherri Levy
  14. The doubtful vibe that you send out into the universe will only create more doubt. Refocus and believe. ~Tiffany Helton
  15. Breathe. ~Marti Erickson Chamberlain
  16. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Doubt is only a thought and feeling, nothing to resist. ~De-stress Your Success
  17. Notice that a doubt is just a thought and don’t believe in it. ~Rami Liesaho
  18. See doubt as a means to improve yourself. Break through the barrier of doubt to better yourself. ~Deepak Soowamber
  19. You have to walk through them, and it sometimes turns out your doubts were well-founded. You aren’t guaranteed a “good” outcome but there is treasure even in a “bad” outcome if you know how to look. ~Alyson Irvin
  20. Start with love. Be still with love. And work through with love. ~Pamela Paraison

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.”

[Modernism’s Patriarch (Time Magazine, June 10, 1996)]” 

― Robert Hughes