Doubt…. A word shrouded in negativity.
What if though there were different types of doubt? What if all doubt wasn’t completely bad? Often enough we say, “I doubt I have it”, or “I doubt that’ll happen.” What if instead of just automatically thinking, “well that’s negative and you’re wrong”, we instead think why… why is this person doubting themselves? What are they internally struggling with?
Last Sunday my priest talked about doubt in his sermon. It was Thomas Sunday in the Greek Orthodox Church, which the Apostle Thomas and doubt always seem to go hand in hand, side by side. We laughingly call people doubting Thomas’ in our every day life when they pause a second, and or question things. My priest though brought up a very valid and important thought. What if the person is afraid? What if they went through a personal trauma in their past and are afraid of getting hurt or opening up again? Thomas was afraid of getting hurt if it really wasn’t Christ alive since he had already gone through the trauma of losing him once. He didn’t want to lose him a second time, so he had to see him with his very own eyes.
We could all be afraid of something physical, emotional or even mental. Someone could for example have fallen off a horse so they’re afraid to get back up and ride again. They say, “Oh I doubt I can ride well.” That’s more their mind reminding them of their scary past experience. One huge example of emotional doubt or trauma for me is my doubt that I will ever find anyone…. “I doubt I’ll find the one”, I think…. I’m afraid to open up again because of past hurt and heartbreak. I’m doubtful things could turn out good for me due to past experiences. That is not completely negative, no that’s fear speaking…..
How do we support and try to help others around us AND ourselves fight these doubts? How do we combat the fears and internal back talk? We create a safe space. A space where doubts and fears can be talked about freely and openly without judgment. Where we support and tell others that we will always be there for them through thick and thin. We have their back and believe in them even if they might not believe in themselves. We offer our support and belief and then hope they can see and be inspired as well. They can see themselves through our eyes; see themselves as we see them! We can’t shut them down automatically either. Don’t say, “Well you’re wrong and that’s negative”… no that answer in itself is negative and puts them down and their emotions and feelings as well. No be supportive and figure out different ways to help them overcome those doubts. Offer to do the action with them, offer to be a listening ear, a safe space for ideas and emotions to be talked about.
I find I can talk about my doubts around people I know are listening and care because they aren’t bashing my doubts and fears.. Quite the opposite actually! They are supporting and love me so much! Talking through your fears and doubts really helps clear things up, or allow you to see the bigger picture and a timeline of your ideas. Having that support and validation that no fear is too small, no emotion too trivial to talk about is important. Validate the person, point out their strengths, their wins, how freaking amazing they are. Maybe pointing these out will inspire them to be like, “wait yeah I am stronger than I think. Yes I am worth it. I can do this thing!” We need to validate more the positives and hopefully in the end those will outweigh the fears and doubts.
I hadn’t really thought of doubt in this way before last Sunday. I had always lumped doubt all up into one negative word. It really makes you stop and think about how many actions, thoughts, words, etc. have so many sides to them. There is never just one answer or one definition. There are many! That is what makes this world and all of us in it unique. It is our duty and job then to create that safe space and have an open mind to see the different sides, the different options and feelings. We can’t decide or put our judgment on something until we fully know why. Take the time to listen, to support, and to encourage… Take the time to provide strength and love when others are struggling. Because we know we hope for the same in return. We want to have that comforting feeling of knowing someone will listen to our doubts and fears openly. They aren’t going to shut us down without hearing the WHOLE story. Be the change you want to see in the world. Share the love and support you want to see around you in everyday life and you never know who you might touch.