As I’ve gone through life, I’ve spent a great deal of my energy working to overcome my fears. From everyday fears like rejection and judgment to more morbid fears like ill health and my demise, I avoided these possibilities like the plague. Unfortunately, my shortsighted-ness often kept me from starting anything, developing a life of caution and resignation.
I had to make a change and start leaning into my fears. I began to wrap my head around the fact that my fears weren’t real, they were simply creations of the mind. I got better results—acts of courage began piecing my confidence back together one brick at a time. But I was still getting stopped.
Despite being empowered by my own courage, something even more crippling began showing up as a result. I realized this was at the root of most of my fears, harnessing even more power than fear itself. It berated the belief I had in myself, bringing everything else important to me into question.
This feeling was doubt. I was disabled despite the understanding that my fears were simply constructs of my mind. Why couldn’t I shake this?
Fear is objective; doubt is personal.
I like to think that fear exists in space. It will always be lurking in some capacity and we have the opportunity to focus on it if we choose. Fear is definitely scary, but it doesn’t have that much to do with us individually. It exists outside of ourselves. We can step up and face it (courage) or refrain from even acknowledging it (boldness) if we so choose.
Doubt is a little more complex. Doubt exists inside of us, challenging the very pillars we constructed to get to where we are today. Doubt has nothing but pessimism to offer about the future, constantly reminding us of our past mistakes.
The reason why doubt is so paralyzing is because we automatically identify with it. We assume because it’s referencing previous shortcomings or falters, that it’s the real us talking to ourselves. The reality is, however, that everyone deals with this same thing. By understanding that doubt is simply trash talk at a sporting event, we stop associating with it directly. We tune out the noise and remember who we are. What we’re up to steps to the forefront, toppling over doubt without noticing.
Fear is going to hang around and show up from time to time, which we shouldn’t resist. We can simply acknowledge it and move forward with our original plans in spite of it. By strengthening our belief, hope, and faith, doubt can disappear. Doubt only exists within the deficiency of character, which we have full control over developing.
“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.” – Khalil Gibran
Doubt is the source of our everyday fears.
We have hundreds of opportunities each day to make an impact on others. Authentic interactions are more sought-after than ever before. People are really beginning to appreciate what it takes to step into their fears and share from the heart.
But it doesn’t always unfold that way, does it? We often get stopped. In this figurative straightjacket known as doubt, we’re helpless. We try to deal with it but instead end up saying something designed to protect us from showcasing who we really are and what we really feel. Doubt tells us we aren’t inspiring enough. It says we’re full of crap right before we bare our soul. By listening to it, we handcuff ourselves.
Actions equal outcomes. But buried underneath the actions are the beliefs about them, doubt being one of them. Doubt can put a filter on the action if we’re not careful, effectively diminishing the potential for powerful results. Adopting a one-track mind for that particular moment and staying focused on the action will keep us grounded from being influenced by doubt.
With doubt absent, fear becomes healthy.
Ever prepare to ask out a member of the opposite (or same) sex and feel your heartbeat increase? How about stepping on stage to deliver a public presentation and instantly feel your face flush? Fear is present, yes, but you’re alive. There’s no more direct notification.
From a third person perspective, my fears didn’t possess nearly as much strength without doubt serving as a foundation. With doubt absent, fear was a diesel engine powered by unleaded gasoline. Like a frightened dog, it was all bark and no bite.
People go skydiving for a reason. This dose of healthy fear allows for a broader perspective. It shapes and colors the way we look at life. The little things that we once allowed to ruin our day no longer have the staying power. Fear in itself is not the problem. Fear rooted in doubt is the dream-killer.
“When in doubt, don’t.” – Benjamin Franklin