WHY DOUBT IS YOUR BEST FRIEND -- AND WHY AVOIDING IT CAN BE A COSTLY MISTAKE

doubt Jan 06, 2021

Do you know that feeling where suddenly you aren't sure if you're in the right career, the right relationship, the right life, or all of those things at once? Doubt loves to creep up on us when we're feeling secure, and if you're anything like me, your knee jerk reaction is probably to talk yourself out of it as quickly as you can. Today, I'll share a new way of looking at doubt, the gifts that it brings, and the power of embracing it.

Faith (in anything) does not require a lack of doubt

When I was younger and a member of a faith community, I remember struggling a lot with doubt. Some small (or large) doubt would come up, I would feel insecure, and I would grasp onto the first warm, fuzzy feeling -- or a simple "truth" that sounded good -- I could to chase it away. I never let myself examine my doubts more closely, and I honestly thought that they were a reflection of a lack of faith. I know now how wrong this is — it's not that people who have faith or are sure of themselves never have doubts. It's that they have learned how to see those doubts as gifts, to take the lessons that they contain, and to always be grateful for the reality/ego check.

Why am I afraid to doubt?

It can be helpful to ask ourselves why this doubt is so scary to us. If this thing, whether it's a belief, a relationship, a career, or anything else, can't survive a little doubt, then is it even real? Ask yourself why you are afraid to examine this doubt. What will you lose? If it's about a belief, a relationship, a job...why do you need this specific thing to exist exactly as it does? What could you gain from a closer examination, or from an alternate path? Don't just skim through those questions, either -- get out your journal and write about them. Something may come up, some answer from within, that just might surprise you.

Know who you *really* are

Remember this, always: your identity is so much bigger than the thing you are having doubts about. Maybe you're scared of your doubts because you identify so strongly with what you're feeling them about, and losing that thing will shake you to the very core of who you think you are. I've been there — recently! When I first entertained pivoting Borderless Stories from intercultural relationship coaching to my new niche in transformation and embodiment life coaching, the idea made me break out in a sweat. I identified myself so strongly with working in the field of intercultural relationships, and I didn't know how I would weather losing that identity. You might be wondering, "If I change this thing, what will people think/say?" But we have to remember that every identity we wear, whether it's in relationship to someone else (a daughter, a partner) or a role we occupy (employee, CEO), is just a piece of clothing. It's something we can put on or take off -- and we might even love wearing it so much that we keep it on for a lifetime -- but it's still just a piece of clothing. When you aren't wearing that sweater, you're still YOU. It's not the sweater, the role, or the identity that defines you.

Doubt can be a gift

Doubt can open you up to a deeper level of understanding or a different path entirely. I've seen the benefit of embracing doubt in many areas of my life...faith, relationships, and now in my profession. It has steered me to different paths in some areas like spirituality, deepened relationships, such as my marriage, and now it has brought me to new work that flows more naturally than anything I've done previously. I know my life would look very different if I hadn't embraced doubt as a friend, and I definitely encourage reframing how you look at it.

Doubt doesn't go away when you ignore it

Avoiding doubt doesn't make it go away, and it doesn't suddenly fill you with confidence and faith. Instead, avoiding doubt can keep you playing small, playing safe, and wrestling behind the scenes with feelings of uncertainty. Remember that you are human, that we all have doubts, and that your honesty about your uncertainties can inspire others infinitely more than any facade you put up where you pretend not to have them.