|I have a lot of
doubts. Some of them are about me and things I do.
Others are about other people and the things that they do, and
how they'll affect me. Most of the doubts hurt me, for
they make it difficult for me to trust in myself, in others,
in God, and in life in general.
I don't know the source of
all my doubts, but I don't think that's as important any more
as it used to be. What's important right now is what I
do with them, how I act when they surface, the extent of the
effect that I allow them to have on me.
When I doubt my own ability
to get something done or my own potential, then I'm setting
limits on myself, often subconsciously. My doubts then
can keep me from reaching my potential, from accomplishing
things that are well within my abilities. More
negatively, though, the doubts can keep me from even trying
something, so I'll never know whether I can do them or
not. A great example of this for me is in
relationships--I can't tell you how many times I haven't
called someone up to ask them to do something because I
doubted they had any interest in doing something with me, only
to find out later that they had plenty of interest. I
doubted my own value, and I doubted other people's perceptions
of me, and I paid a price--and this is a price that I'll never
know the true level of, because I'll never be able to talk to
all of the people that I didn't try to make friends with.
When we doubt other people,
we're sending them a clear signal, even if it's not a
completely visible symbol. If I doubt that one of my
students can pass a class this semester, then the way I treat
that student will change subtly, and study after study has
proved that our doubt of someone else's ability often proves
to be a predictor of that person's performance.
Sometimes we even doubt that
life is fair, and we put ourselves in a position in which we
see ourselves being treated unfairly. If I don't think
I'm going to be treated fairly, though, I start to act like a
victim. Once I act like a victim, then things start
happening to me that make me more of a victim. It's not
life being unfair that causes those things to happen,
though--it's my doubts in life's fairness that's keeping me
from feeling the objectivity of life.
Most doubts serve little
purpose, especially when they're doubts of our selves or of
other people. These doubts limit us, as they define us
in tight little spaces that we may never be able to get out of
as long as we doubt ourselves. Watch an athlete sometime
after he or she had suffered a serious setback--a serious loss
or an injury--that causes him or her to have doubt in his or
her own ability. Usually, you'll see one of two
things: either a great ability to push doubt out of
one's mind, or a sub-par performance caused by the person's
own doubts. Doubts nag at us, and they keep us from
exploring new possibilities and new ideas and new ways of
On the other hand, there is a
positive side to doubt. Doubt can lead us to new heights
when we're able to doubt the truth of other people's claims,
especially when those claims seem to be based on out-dated,
outworn information or views. Columbus doubted the
conventional wisdom that told him the world was flat, and he
set out to find out whether the claim was true or not.
Einstein doubted that the explanations of physics offered by
his contemporaries adequately explained the nature of physics
and the world, and he was able to visualize things on a much
deeper level once he moved past their limitations.
This type of doubt can lead
at least two ways, though. If I doubt my faith in God,
that doubt can lead me to explore the concept of God and come
up with my own answers by looking at works from sources I
might otherwise never have read, or it can lead me to reject
the concept of God completely, never exploring it fully in
ways that could be beneficial to me and to others.
Where will your doubt lead
you? What will you do with it? How will you allow
it to affect you? The most important things we can do
with doubt are to acknowledge it, and then to put it in its
place, somewhere over there with our fears and our old
nightmares. Doubts can provide us with a valuable
service for ourselves, or doubts can keep us from reaching our
own, almost unlimited potential. What are you going to
do with your doubts?