12.13.18 - "As A Whole, They Are Too Extreme To Be Taken Seriously"
Dear Sweet Babe,
Today I want to talk to you about doubt.
Have you ever thought about a plan that you have, and then upon receiving one new piece of information you see the whole project fall to pieces in your mind? Have you ever heard someone compliment another, only to hear them tear that other to shreds the moment their back is turned, leading you to worry if they’ve done the same to you? Have you ever been offered the opportunity to do something and, upon accepting the invitation, immediately feel as if you can’t participate due to something that you lack?
Doubt is both a rather important thing, and a very dangerous thing.
Doubt can help to protect us. The doubt instilled in us over someone who has shown themselves to be insincere can help us to avoid betrayal or disappointment. The doubt we have for certain behaviors (let’s say doubting our safety if we jump off of the roof) can protect us from injury. Doubt can keep us quite safe and alive.
But (and this is the truth with most everything in our lives) doubt, kept out of check, or unbalanced, will wreak havoc on our lives. If we allow every decision, relationship, and potential experience to be filled with doubt, we will become paralyzed in our lives. Our relationships will stagnate and die. Our futures will rush past us, leaving us unfulfilled and alone. We will not change, will not grow, and will not live. Doubt can debilitate us, if we’re not careful.
So, how do we identify doubt?
Well, doubt comes in all sorts of ways. There is grand doubt, that we associate with ourselves so deeply that we believe it to be an inherent truth about ourselves, instead of the belief we’ve developed it to be. People who believe that they cannot sing, or dance, or write, or interact with others in a meaningful way are suffering from these grand doubts. There is social doubt, that is heaped upon us by friends and family, They’re usually just expressing concern for your safety, but that gets turned into a weighted yolk that we carry around with us at all times, stopping us from pursuing our dreams. People who are afraid to explore their sexuality, religion, or political options are often suffering from social doubt.
Still, I want to point out a specific type of doubt that I find to be the most insidious and prevalent type: minor self doubt. This is the doubt that comes from our subconscious and whispers in our ear things like, “I don’t think you sound good enough on this song, you should give up,” or, “you’ll never walk without falling down, just stick to crawling,” or even “that attractive guy on the subway will never smile back at you, stop trying to find love.” In the song “Die Vampire, Die” from Title of Show, lyricist Jeff Bowen describes these doubts as “pygmy vampires (that will) swarm around your head like gnats,” to share these .
These doubts may seem innocuous, but it is in their seeming inconsequentiality that their insidious nature lies. While these doubts may have some validity, as a whole, they are too extreme to be taken seriously.
“You’ve failed once, so you should just give up.”
“If you can’t get it right the first time, you never will.”
“All of your failure is because you are a failure.”
These are the types of grand doubts that these minor social doubts spring from. Y’see, we think that we can let these minor doubts go unchecked because they seem so natural and easy to follow. It’s really simple to give up on something. But, if you start to listen to every single one of these doubts, you’ll find how damaging the trend they’re supporting can be, and how insidious the grand doubts they’ve sprung from truly are. To follow every single minor self doubt is to find yourself incapable of finishing anything. But, if we just gave up on everything that we didn’t succeed at first on, then no one would have made it to the moon, made a recipe for anything, became a cyclist or an opera singer, developed medical techniques, or even learned to walk. The fact is learning takes persistence, and persistence takes a good strong dose of ignoring your doubts, minor or grand.
So, sweet babe, how are you going to find the balance between doubt and persistence?