The word doubt can sometimes provoke a negative connotation, and I don't think this should be the case. Obviously, when one experiences a lot of doubt, this may stem from very low confidence and or self-esteem, and this isn’t always a great thing but something that can be looked at, as to why.
I do believe a small amount of doubt is actually a good thing. When we go into the zone of doubting something, this simply means we are “uncertain of belief or opinion.” We are in a position where we “deliberately suspend judgment”, and this encourages us to seek more information. We are looking at things a bit like a sceptic I guess, where we go into the mode of being critical before we embrace or accept whatever it is we may be doubting.
Doubt, to me, is all about growth, and I don’t think there is a better way to question why we do things and grow from this.
Recently I was asked to present a keynote at a conference. Nothing lights me up more, and after a meeting with the event organiser, I walked away with a clear picture of what the keynote would look like and what it needed to deliver. I was excited about the opportunity and spent the time mapping out my message and designing the presentation.
Five nights before the event, I couldn’t sleep, tossing and turning I couldn’t work out why I felt so unsettled and uncomfortable when I thought about the presentation. I love presenting; usually, these things keep me awake because I’m excited and can’t wait to put it all into action.
I’d put a lot of time in finding out about the audience and the objective and output of my talk, but something wasn’t sitting right. You know that feeling, where something is niggling at you, almost a subliminal distractor that won’t go away, deep I the pit of your stomach?
I have rarely ever felt like this, and I needed to know why. Those of you that know me, know I love sharing my message and very rarely second guess or question what I am doing so this feeling really opened up my thinking.
With little sleep, I spent the night deliberating what this was all about with the kind help of the “2 am committee” kindly contributing to my thoughts. Finally, I realised I had been fed with what my message was to be, opposed to being free to express what I really wanted to share. I was doubting what I was going to present, and we all know our thoughts lead to our feelings and result in our actions. It’s like I knew I had something bigger and better to present to get to the same outcome, if not better. I was doubting the incongruence of my message to who I am.
After going back to the event organizer and asking some really good questions and being open about how I was feeling, I totally changed my presentation. I didn't doubt myself as such, but I was doubting the message that I was delivering as I didn't think it would hit the mark and be authentically me.
Doubting something and following your intuition, heart and logic can go amiss when we default to our old thinking and ways when under pressure. I have always heard that doubt can equate to growth, and this recent experience really reinforced this for me, in real-time.
As humans, we can get caught up in doing opposed to being so for someone like me to really stop to reflect and just BE, can be a challenge and seem foreign.
In a nutshell, the presentation went extremely well, and the feedback was brilliant. Not only has it opened up a whole new message for my practice and what I want to share with the world, it has actually lead me to the topic of my next book. This self-doubt got me to think even more outside the square, and it got me to take a back seat and look at my message and challenge it for the right reasons.
What doubt does:
Helps you grow
Anything outside of saying and thinking: “I know” is growth and by doubting things you are looking outside of what is comfortable and known.
Makes you question things
Asking yourself questions opens us up to what I refer to as the “curiosity vault”. Quality questions usually result in quality responses; less is more.
Busts down your limitations
We don't know our limitations until we exceed them. Doubt gets us to review and be aware of our limitations and see what is possible, to be limitless.
Shows you are human
Doubt shows we are all human, we aren’t born to set and forget who we are and what we do. Show humility and being open to doubt when needed.
Explores new ways
Seeing things differently and creating new options and thinking can pave the way to exploring new ideas and outcomes.
You could say doubt is in the eye of the beholder and I think sometimes you know if it is too strong, but a small amount of doubt is constructive and empowering and I believe it can really work for you.
Question things and discover and explore new ways. Next time you have some self-doubt don't ignore it, stop, reflect and question what could be different and see what happens! Doubt is good, don't see doubt as the devil.