In the last five articles in our Quest for confidence series, I’ve discussed embracing failure, accepting abandonment, and understanding disappointment. This week, we are going to be dealing with doubt. This pertains to self-doubt or doubt in general because the sources and solutions are the same for both.
Everyone Experiences Doubt
Doubt is a normal part of the human experience. You can’t escape it. It’s there to put a roadblock in your way and get you to slow down and think things through. It’s not there to stop you, but to keep you from making a mistake that you can’t undo. It exists to be sure you are prepared for what you are about to do.
Doubt Is Hungry for Data
Doubt is a very hungry beast. It is always looking for data to feed it the findings to bolster its claims. Its never-ending question is, “How do I know for sure?” The good news is that if you feed doubt, it will quickly mature into the confidence that you are looking to find.
Why We Doubt Ourselves
Doubt is a protective safeguard. It is there to keep us from moving or acting too soon, without all the information we need to protect ourselves from harm. When doubt shows up, it is warning you that there may be missing information you need to gather, and there are unanswered questions you have about the situation, person, or your own abilities. It wants you to test things out so it can be sure there is stable ground where you are trying to walk.
Why Doubt Stands In Your Way
Since we often see doubt as our enemy, we try to ignore our doubts and proceed ahead anyway. We don’t want to be slowed down or stopped by doubt. We don’t want to be controlled by doubt. However, if you try to push doubt aside, doubt will only grow bigger and fill up more of the space in your head. It won’t step aside, it will keep standing in your way to try and protect you from a path it doesn’t think you are ready to travel.
Rewriting the Story of Doubt
Plenty of people may have told you that doubt is an enemy trying to hold you back. I urge you to rewrite that story. Don’t look at doubt as an enemy. Treat it as a guardian angel who is trying to help keep you safe from harm. Welcome doubt and listen to it.
Gathering the Necessary Data
Rather than allowing doubt to keep you from stepping out, though, go out and gather the data it needs. You won’t know until you try if you’re capable of doing something. Ask the questions, submit your work for review, give it a try, and get the feedback you need to know where the strengths and weaknesses are of an idea or a potential relationship or a situation. Fix the weaknesses, shore up the strengths, and step out in confidence. If it’s doubt about a relationship, do investigative work. Test the waters. Make sure you know what you’re dealing with before you get more involved. If it’s doubt about a situation, ask your questions and get the answers you need. Nobody will mind questions if their intentions are sincere. If there isn’t time to do the investigative work before a decision is required and you feel doubt about the situation or the person involved, listen to that doubt. It’s trying to protect you from harm.
Developing Gratitude for Doubt
There are plenty of reasons to be grateful for doubt. While you do need to understand it and why it exists, you have likely been kept safe a thousand times over because of doubt’s appearances. You have probably been kept from making some of the greatest mistakes of your life because of it. So be grateful for doubt that it cares enough to keep asking questions even when you’ve tried to ignore it or make it go away.