top of page

When in Doubt...

Updated: Feb 15, 2020

None of us can afford to sit in doubt...

My daughter recently shared with me that whenever she changes her answers on a test she changes them from the right answer to the wrong answer. I remember having the same experience when I was in school. At the time, I decided that I would never second guess myself on a test, but translating this strategy to the rest of my life was a bit more complicated.

Second guessing is the flip side of doubt. Doubt is what feel before we take action and second guessing is what we subject ourselves to after we take action. Both are problematic, one prevents us from taking action and the other prevents us from feeling good about the action we took. During the course of our day, whether we realize it or not, we are engaged in a lot of doubt related dialogue. It can be exhausting. Should I have pressed harder for a raise? Should I say yes to a full time job? Should I have lost my temper? Should I have called back that date? Should I let my kids say out late? Should I have studied more for that test? Doubt is an endless catch 22, the ultimate brain loop. The brain does not like change and through doubt it will have us chasing our tails going in circles all day long if we are not paying attention. What I learned in my life is that doubt does not lead to good choices, it leads to anxiety. Caution does not lead to safety, it leads to disempowerment. If anything this is a dangerous duo. For starters, when we learn not to trust ourselves we trust others more than we should. Everyone has examples of this to varying degrees. In my case it was nearly fatal. After a routine doctor visit I started to experience back pain. When I called the doctor and asked to come back in he refused saying my exam was normal. He was so dismissive and my symptoms were so vague, coming and going, that I second guessed myself and did not pursue it. It took me six months of grappling with my doubt to go to a walk in clinic where I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. While my example may seem extreme, none of us can afford to sit in doubt. Regaining our own self trust (over that of others) and being able to advocate for ourselves requires that we take risks on a daily basis - social risks, academic risks, career risks, relationship risks, parenting risks - and always give ourselves an ‘A’ for effort and a huge pat on the back. Risk stretches us and helps us grow, without it we stagnate. The more we grow, the more we trust and the more empowered we become. And here is the really interesting part, when we take risks we always grow regardless of the outcome. It is not our successes or failures that determines whether we grow it is the act of choice itself. To trust ourselves to make good choices and to feel good about our choices after we make them, we have to use doubt to fuel our growth not stunt it. Resist the temptation to engage in hindsight, critiquing and judging your every move. For me looking back is only relevant to see how far you have come. Whether you are happy with your choices or not, take solace in the fact that, all things being equal, you would make that same choice again. Why? Because it was your best choice at that time or you would not have made it. The truth is we are all always making our best choices. I have yet to come upon someone who says “I am going to make a crappy, ignorant choice today.” No one does anything wrong given their understanding of the world, everyone is always doing their best - although to observers it may not appear to be so. And once a choice is made, we are immediately wiser and smarter - growth is immediate. If we look back we are looking back from a new vantage point equipped with new information - hence the choice may, in hindsight, seem wrong. What we are seeing is our growth not our ignorance. It takes guts to act, to take a risk and to move into the unknown, and for most of us, when we do, doubt appears. Recognize this as your moment of choice. Instead of beating yourself up for your “bad choices”, know that each choice, however retrospectively unsavory, is a chance to celebrate your growth. Slowly doubt will be replaced with peace. And when doubt is removed we are simply making a choice - making choices is powerful - indeed it is the most powerful thing we can do. For Fear: Notice the Doubt Program

  • Take an assessment of the areas in your life where self-doubt is keeping you confused and inert.

  • Are you doubting yourself in your relationships? Your career? Your parenting? Your health? Do you doubt your intellect, your stamina, your skills, your dreams, your beauty?

  • Begin to notice the doubt program your brain keeps cuing up.

  • Create a funny visual or mantra that you can use each time you catch the doubt program coming online.

  • With each interruption in the program the brain learns that you don't want it cued up and doubt will become a thing of the past.

I know what you are thinking.... I doubt it :-)))))

xoxo Jill

#doubt #fear #anxiety #inertai