doubt

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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 knowing the source is 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 doing things.

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?

   

Indecision, doubt and fear.  The members of this unholy trio
are closely related; where one is found, the other two are close at hand.

Napoleon Hill

   

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If you would be a real seeker of the truth, it is necessary
at least once in your life to doubt, as far as possible, all things.

René Descartes
  

We never encounter a mountain greater than doubt.  Doubt
is a deceiver.  It is as a thief in the night.  Remove it,
do not let it come nigh your dwelling.

Frater Achad

  
There is no greater hell than doubts.

Amar Jyoti

Doubt is really a groping ignorance.

Eliphas Levi

Doubt comes in the window
when inquiry is denied at the door.

Benjamin Jowett

Who knows most, doubts most.

Robert Browning

Doubt is nothing but a trivial agitation on the surface of the soul, while deep down there is a calm certainty.

François Mouriac

  
Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good
we oft might win by fearing to attempt.

William Shakespeare
  

When you are in doubt, be still, and wait.  When doubt no longer
exists for you, then go forward in courage.

White Eagle

  
   

Those who have conquered doubt and fears have conquered
failure.  Their every thought is allied with power, and all
difficulties are bravely met and wisely overcome.

James Allen

   

   

It need not discourage us if we are full of doubts.  Healthy questions
keep faith dynamic. In fact, unless we start with doubts we cannot have
a deep-rooted faith.  One who believes lightly and unthinkingly has not much
of a belief. One who has a faith which is not to be shaken has won it through
blood and tears--has worked his or her way from doubt to truth as one
who reaches a clearing through a thicket of brambles and thorns.

Helen Keller

   

Our own doubts are our greatest barriers in any endeavors.  We are
only free and able to accomplish what we think we can.  When doubt
arises, defeat is not far behind.  However, that principle is just as
strong in reverse.  When we believe in ourselves, nothing can hold us
back.  Our accomplishments are many when we've developed
the habit of self-assurance.

unattributed

   

Doubts are the messengers of the Living One to the honest.  They are
the first knock at our door of things that are not yet, but have
to be, understood. . . . Doubts must precede every deeper assurance; for
uncertainties are what we first see when we look into
a region hitherto unknown, unexplored, unannexed.

George MacDonald

    
Articles and book excerpts on doubt:

Conquer Doubt      Vic Johnson

    

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Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.
Doubt is a foundling unhappy and astray, and though his own
mother who gave him birth should find him and enfold him,
he would withdraw in caution and in fear.

Khalil Gibran
   

The first key to wisdom is assiduous and frequent questioning. . . .
for in doubting we come to inquiry, and by inquiry we arrive at truth.

Peter Abelard

    

Give me the benefit of your convictions, if you have any,
but keep your doubts to yourself, for I have enough of my own.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    
   
To find oneself living in an age of doubt is not such a curse.
There is a kind of reverence in undertaking the quest for truth,
even before the first scrap has been found.

Deepak Chopra
   

But doubt is a crucial to faith as darkness is to light.  Without one,
the other has no context and is meaningless.  Faith is, by definition,
uncertainty.  It is full of doubt, steeped in risk.  It is about matters
not of the known, but of the unknown.

Carter Heywood

  

Doubt is the vestibule through which all must pass
before they can enter the temple of wisdom.

Charles Caleb Colton

   







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As long as there is a material body, you are carrying doubt.  Do not
despise your doubting.  That is the human condition.  When
there is no more doubt, you do not need to be human.

Emmanuel
  

Doubt is the disease of this inquisitive, restless age.  It is the price we
pay for our advanced intelligence and civilization--the dim light of our
resplendent day.  But as the most beautiful night is born of darkness,
so the faith that springs from conflict is often the strongest and the best.

Robert J. Turnbull

 

With most people, doubt about one thing is simply blind belief in another.

Georg C. Lichtenberg

   



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The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
  

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.

Voltaire

  

If a person will begin with certainties, he or she shall end in doubts, but if
that person will be content to begin with doubts, he or she shall end in certainties.

Francis Bacon

  
Yes, I have doubted.  I have wandered off the path.  I have been lost.
But I always returned.  It is beyond the logic I seek.  It is intuitive--an
intrinsic, built-in sense of direction.  I seem always to find
my way home.  My faith has wavered but has saved me.

Helen Hayes
  

Faith and doubt both are needed--not as antagonists, but working
side by side--to take us around the unknown curve.

Lillian Smith

   

   

  

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