3 Ways to Give Doubt…Well, the Benefit

{3 minute read}

I have a question for you: When you think of the word “doubt” what are some of the first words that come to mind?

(think about it for a minute )

If you’re like me it falls somewhere between uncertainty, fear and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (who was incredible in the movie, Doubt). Because, yes, that’s how my brain works. If a movie can be involved – it will be.

No matter what words or people came to mind, we can probably agree that doubt is usually looked at as a weakness. As something that is foggy. Possibly a failure. It’s not credible or knowledgeable or even safe at times. We have a tendency to look at doubt as a drawback or a problem instead of an asset or solution. How about we give doubt a chance and learn how to incorporate the upside of it’s existence into our everyday lives?

Here’s how:

1. Allow doubt to strengthen your perspective.
We all carry around a belief system that we hold onto pretty darn tightly. When it is questioned or threatened we go straight into mama bear mode and defend it with all of our might. Being someone who steers away from intensely heated political conversations, I took a moment to step back and ask myself, How can we create more conversations and less accusations? It’s the whole build a bigger table, not a higher fence theory. There are major hot button issues for everybody but if we’re not able to loosen our grip on our belief sytems then how are we going to grow as people? Manipulation and condescending tactics aren’t the road to take. We both know how it feels to be on the receiving end of those and it makes punches want to be thrown. Even more resentful, frustrated, and self-righteous feet are dug in the mud. We feel threatened and disrespected. Making room for a little doubt allows us to truly listen to people with different vantage points. It may be uncomfortable at first. We may feel our egos clawing at us desperately from the inside but it’s necessary now more than ever. A little perspective allows for a lot of clarity on who we are as individuals and as a community.   I did a little digging and came across the book: The Rigtheous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathon Haidt. I am excited to dive into it and couldn’t wait to share it with you.

2. Doubt allows for freedom from always being right.
Now, that may sound crazy. Freedom from always being right? Don’t we all want to be right all the time? Well, sure. Of course. But the anxiety of having to be right every moment just adds more bricks to the sky high wall that we really can’t bear to continue building. Allowing ” I don’t know,” or “I can see your point,” into your vocabulary, offers the opportunity for someone else to feel seen and heard. It allows others to learn from your brave example of confidently and admittedly not knowing the answer. There is trust and loyalty that comes along with that positive rebellious spirit.

Now that you’re fired up and on a roll, go ahead and question the status quo. Start doubting that it’s the right way – even if you thought it was. Doubt why everyone is “doing it” or believing it or becoming it. Remember that “the masses are asses” and jump ship. A great place to start is doubting how we as a society have chosen to define the word: success. Have a conversation with your friends, your kids, your spouse, co-workers, hell, go out on a limb and talk to strangers about it. Be the can opener. You may find worms or you may surprise yourself and find that they’ve only been gummy worms all along. It’s worth the risk. You may just make someone’s day or save someone’s life. (Yes, seriously.)

3. Check ya later, self-limiting beliefs
Lastly, for the oldie but goodie. Oh, the wonderfully stunting limited beliefs that we put on ourselves. We are so sure that we are not smart enough, good enough, responsible enough, funny enough, technologically savvy enough, cool enough or creative enough. Take your pick. Chances are you have one of those on a loop in your head every day. Well, you know what? It’s time for doubt to kick it to the curb. What would your life look like if you doubted that belief? If you actually allowed yourself to think the opposite. Just for 15 minutes. A day.  A week. How much better would you feel? How much clearer would you be in the way you presented yourself to your family, friends, clients, the world? In one of my all time faves, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, author, Mark Manson has this to say about doubt:
“Certainty is the enemy of growth. Nothing is for certain until it has already happened – and even then, it’s still debatable. That’s why accepting the inevitable imperfections of our values is necessary for any growth to take place. Instead of striving for certainty, we should be in constant search of doubt: doubt about our own beliefs, doubt about our own feelings, doubt about what the future may hold for us unless we get out there and create it for ourselves. Instead of looking to be right all the time, we should be looking for how we’re wrong all the time. Because we are. Being wrong opens us up to the possibility of change.”

We’re scared of change. We run from change. We have a major allergic reaction to change. So, what do we do? We face change head on with our belly filled with equal parts tenacity and fear. We make room for solid faith in our hearts and a barf bag in our pocket. We clear way in our mind that our courageous action may create some incredible and life altering change in the world. And if we’re wrong – well, we make room for that too but do it anyway.

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