DoubtThe entropic and ever-changing nature of reality makes it near impossible to be certain of much. You cling to things that you know to define you – your address, your phone number, your eye colour, your star sign. You hold onto the things you can describe the same way every time.

All things change, but if something changes rarely enough that it feels like never, it can be comforting.

It’s nice not to have to doubt.

Doubt, typically, is that uncomfortable sensation you get when you think you’re about to be disappointed. You might doubt whether your friend is going to be on time for dinner. You might doubt whether the film will be worth shelling out nearly £20 for, plus the cost of snacks. You might doubt whether the treatment will work.

But remember that you get that feeling for a reason.

Doubt alerts you to the things that are important and the things that you want to get right.

If you doubt something, listen to the logic behind it. Sometimes, you’ll doubt because you are afraid, and then all you can do is wait for time, and the nausea, to pass.

Other times, you’ll doubt for a reason.

You might doubt that you did well in a job interview. Why would you think that? Did you do something wrong? Do you think something about you put the interviewer off? Or, are you just scared? If everything went right and you still have doubts, that’s because you really want this job – you have solid aspirations and you’ve taken a risk to chase them. Well done, you.

Doubt might be the reason you suspect someone of lying to you. Why would you think that? Is it just that you don’t especially like their face? Or have they messed you around before? Maybe this is an indication that someone needs to work a bit harder to earn your trust. Maybe you need to make them.

Doubt might be the reason you give up a faith. Faith in a person, faith in a routine, faith in a company, faith in a doctrine or ideology. If your experiences, knowledge and reason lead you to doubt something that you hold in high esteem, maybe you need to rethink your attitude towards that thing.

Though universally unpleasant, doubt is key to critiquing the things we take for granted. Once upon a time, it was considered fact that the sun went round the Earth. Without the doubt of a handful of intelligent people, we might still be in those dark ages.

Every idea, every belief, every doctrine, every constructed ideology must be able to stand up to logic and reason and evidence, otherwise its influence will only be damaging. Doubt is the nagging feeling you get when your experience of the world doesn’t quite fit with the worldview you established before.

The world is not wrong for not keeping up with your expectations.

Doubt is your internal reminder that you are infallible and sometimes make mistakes. Don’t dismiss it. Not until you’ve thought about it and know for definite that it comes only from your own fear. Acknowledge it, use it, let it tell you when to re-evaluate things, when you need to adjust. Try to treat it as a friend, not an enemy.

Let it help.

Kirstie Summers,

Daily Zen

1 Comment

  • Good stuff! Correction: “Doubt is your internal reminder that you are infallible…” s/b fallible (unless this is a tongue in cheek ‘mistake’)

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