Calling Out Our Doubts | Steve's Quest: The Animated Musical Web Series

Calling Out Our Doubts

I admit it — I have moments when I doubt the value of everything I do in my life.  I doubt whether I’m really interested in my work.  I question whether the relationships in my life are worthwhile.  I seriously consider whether I’d prefer a life of solitary, cave-dwelling meditation.

I think doubt is wonderful.  If I’d never stopped to ask myself whether my path was taking me in the right direction, I wouldn’t have changed my career, written my book, or done many other rewarding things.

In my experience, doubt only becomes a problem if we either (1) give it complete control of our choices, or (2) try to deny that it’s there.

Letting Doubt Do The Driving

To illustrate the first of these, I know several people who are in the habit of revamping their lives every time doubt arises.  Each time they find themselves questioning whether they’re on the right path, they immediately find a new one.  They leave their job, their graduate program, or their partner.

Unfortunately, they never find a perfect, doubt-free situation, so they keep flailing around in frustration.  What they don’t see is that doubt is part of the human condition — it’s in our nature to question whether we’re on the right path, no matter how ideal our situation may look on the outside.

Thus, if we always flee our situation whenever doubts come up, we’ll spend our lives in a fruitless search.  I think we’re better off keeping our doubt in the backseat, if you will, and listening to what it has to say — not putting it in the driver’s seat of our lives and giving it the keys.

Denying Doubt

We also run into trouble, I think, when we pretend our doubt doesn’t exist.  Perhaps we don’t want the hassle of pondering whether what we’re doing is right for us, or we want others to think we’re confident and sure about where we’re headed.

I find, both in myself and in working with others, that repressing our doubts actually drains our energy, and takes away from what we can accomplish in our work.  Refusing to admit we’re uncertain about what we’re doing creates tension in the body, as if we have to physically push the doubt away.

But when we admit to ourselves we’re in doubt, we release that tension.  Many times, when I’ve been honest with myself about my uncertainty, I’ve found myself spontaneously relaxing my shoulders and sighing with relief.

Calling It Out

Interestingly, often the doubt itself falls away when I acknowledge it.  For instance, recently, I’ve been preparing to lead a full-day workshop.  At one point, while experiencing the usual frustrations that come with getting ready for an event, I realized — with a sinking feeling — that, in that moment, I didn’t want to put on the event at all.

However, things changed when I called out my doubt.  I said to myself aloud:  “I don’t want to lead this workshop.”  In that moment, my body relaxed, and suddenly my desire to hold the workshop and serve others with my work returned.  It’s like the uncertain part of me needed to be heard — but once I gave it a hearing, it fell silent.

I invite you to try this the next time doubt creeps in — you being human and all, it’s bound to happen.

24 thoughts on
Calling Out Our Doubts

  1. Sara

    Chris,

    This is an excellent post about “doubt.’ I love the idea of calling it out or speaking the doubt aloud. I can see how this removes some it’s secretive power.

    I also agree that it’s not a good thing to let doubt drive our lives. To me, it is important because it makes me stop and consider what I’m doing, but if it takes over, change would be impossible.

    Do you ever submit your article to places like Ezine Articles? You write articles with such good suggestions. I think you’d be wonderful as an Ezine author:~)

  2. Jenny Ann Fraser

    Hi Chris,
    This is very thought-provoking. It’s true that acknowledging our doubt is sometimes all we need. Other times, I suspect that we can still acknowledge it, and allow it to persist if it must, but forge ahead anyway…

  3. Davina

    Hi Chris.
    What an interesting perspective about doubt. I love the idea of how acknowledging it doesn’t necessarily have to mean giving in to it, but rather it dissipates it. When something is weighing on our minds it can hold us back.

  4. Chris - Post author

    Hi Sara — that’s well put, I think — that doubt loses some of its power over us when we bring it out into the open, if only by talking to ourselves. It’s funny you should mention free articles sites — in fact, I’ve been putting all of my recent articles up on Searchwarp, EzineArticles and SelfGrowth. I haven’t found them to be the traffic-driving engine some people say they are, but maybe I just don’t “write for the search engines” well and all that stuff we’re supposed to do. :)

  5. Chris - Post author

    Hi Jenny — yes, that’s well said — acknowledging the doubt — “oh, I’m feeling reservations about doing this right now” — and choosing to move forward. Or choosing to stop. But not letting doubt be the sole factor in determining your decision.

  6. Chris - Post author

    Hi Davina — I like the metaphor of “weighing on our minds” — just speaking the doubt, I think, can lift that weight and actually have my body relax.

  7. Karl Staib - Work Happy Now

    I love how you use doubt to help guide your actions. You are right doubt is there for a reason and we need to think of it as a resource.

    I like to think of my doubts/fears as a friend, someone I can stroll along side and listen to. This technique has helped me learn from these emotions instead of trying to push them aside. It’s why I started my blog and wrote my first book. Just like you I’m so glad that I had these doubts/fears otherwise I wouldn’t have worked on some awesome projects.

  8. Tom Volkar / Delightful Work

    Calling out doubts as with other limiting beliefs and fears is a good way to see them for what they are. I’m constantly reminding myself that it’s all good and the doubt is there as a blessing. I like the way you’ve framed them here. You know how to stand up and see what’s really going on with you Chris and that’s powerful.

  9. Mark

    Chris,
    Good thoughts on doubt. Doubt is what makes us examine and reexamine our experience and our path. Doubt can be the catalyst of creativity. Like you said, we must maintain a balance for doubt can become overwhelming and paralyze a person or put a person on a treadmill of a never ending search for certitude.

  10. Wilma Ham

    Hi Chris, I am sharing my doubts with either John or other people, never giving it a thought to deny it anymore although I have done that and it never got me very far. From sharing I learn which of my doubts are warranted, and some of them are and which others are not and now I find sharing a great way to deal with them. xox Wilma

  11. Hilary

    Hi Chris ..
    That’s interesting that they just give up and move on. Facing our fears and doubts is so important .. and also one step forward is so helpful .. the doubt can recede .. and we learn from doubt. I like how you reenergised yourself with your course – and I’m sure others will really enjoy themselves with your coaching and encouragement …

    I like Karl’s comment about walking alongside his doubts and fears .. learning from the input .. – the positive is always there ready to be flipped up again … and there’s always an opportunity from the doubt/fear ready to be outed – as you so rightly say ..

    Thanks – good thoughts – Hilary

  12. Chris - Post author

    Hi Karl — I like that metaphor of seeing doubt as a friend who’s there to offer us advice, rather than as either a boss we need to obey or an enemy we need to fight.

  13. Chris - Post author

    Hi Tom — there’s definitely power in realizing that “it’s all good,” like you say — the moments of doubt are part of the process of creation. Maybe they’re the valleys on the path. But the peak moments can’t exist without those valleys, and it sounds like you get that.

  14. Chris - Post author

    Hi Mark — yes, that’s a great way to phrase it — that a balanced relationship with doubt involves simply allowing it to exist without fighting it or fleeing from it, just as we’d ideally do with any other thought or feeling we experience.

  15. Chris - Post author

    Hi Wilma — that’s an excellent point to add — that sharing doubts with others is a great way to get perspective on them — and to push our edge a little bit, of course, because it requires us to drop our facade of total certainty.

  16. Marie

    Hi, Chris -

    I am finding that simply acknowledging and giving validation to any “negative” emotion that comes up for me tends to be a better way of moving through them. Even though being in those emotions can feel uncomfortable, they are so valuable and are a kind of vital radar for us as we navigate our life paths.

    Thanks for bringing this idea to our attention!

    - Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

  17. Ralph

    Dealing with doubt is tough. Going into unknown territory usually breeds doubt. I try to attack the part of my life that I have doubts about. If I am questioning a business decision, I will think of the worst case scenario and how I can bounce back. Then, I go ahead and do the thing that I was doubting. Usually, the worse case scenario doesn’t happen :)

  18. Chris - Post author

    Hi Hilary — I liked what you said about doubt presenting an opportunity — maybe it’ll be an opportunity to reevaluate where you’re headed, or just a chance to remind yourself why you’re on your path and get back in touch with your sense of mission in life.

  19. Chris - Post author

    Hi Marie — yes, I think that’s a great way to put it — acknowledging those doubts and fears, rather than telling them to shut up and be positive, can actually have them become more comfortable and familiar, and sometimes even dissolve them completely.

  20. Chris - Post author

    Hi Ralph — that’s true, as human beings we seem to have a remarkable capacity to dwell on worst-case scenarios that seem frightening even if they don’t have any reasonable chance of happening, and getting some perspective on that sounds key.

  21. Patty - Why Not Start Now?

    Oh boy, this is so true for me Chris. I love how you normalize doubt, because seriously, I rarely get through a day without it. But if I followed its every whim…whoa! And the weird thing is, I’ve learned that the more I’m actually following my heart, the more doubt I will probably have. It would be easier if it were the other way around, but it’s just not. That’s life. At least for me. Thanks for the great post.

  22. Jannie Funster

    Hey, Chris. I am so glad for your honesty in this. That we ALL doubt brings home how human we all are. I like having a mini van now, because I have a ‘way back (3rd row) seat to stash doubt in. :)

    Great to be back here in your wise land! Always good things to ponder.
    xo

  23. Chris - Post author

    Hi Patty — I can definitely relate to what you said about feeling more doubt the closer you are to your path — if I’m having a jittery, sinking or otherwise uncomfortable feeling in my body once in a while, I know I’m genuinely exploring and pushing my limits.

  24. Chris - Post author

    Hi Jannie — I like that seating arrangement — preferably with your doubt in a child seat with heavy restraints, right? Or perhaps a straitjacket.

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