Fear: The Anchor of Doubt (Part II)

Jan 17, 2012 by

Numerous are the times that we find ourselves doubting whether the answer circle we bubbled in on a scan sheet exam is correct. We second guess ourselves, go over the graphite marking with an eraser, and bubble something else in its place. But even then, we often experience a persisting dissatisfaction with the choice we’ve made but we settle with it and decide that it is better just by the mere fact that it is a different response than the first choice we went along with, which brought about the entire dilemma to begin with. Such is the power of doubt, the illusory devil and conniving trickster of the mind that plagues us.

 

How often do we go forth in life blinded by the torturous inability to make a decision in the absence of complete knowledge? Doubt in the self is a cancerous and brutal assassin. Doubt is one of the primary sources that inhibit justice. We doubt ourselves because we convince ourselves that there is something missing for us to securely make a decision based on such a short supply of data and as a result, we fail to do the right thing. But that’s just it; there is never a short supply of data. There is always enough information to make the right choice. If we have done everything within a moral limit to gather the information needed to make a decision then what we do from there is based on the best truth available and that becomes the best choice. In some situations, the wisest choice is to sit still and just wait, but we can’t keep applying that to everything. We can’t continue to use absence of information as an excuse not to act. We must not succumb to fear in this way and once we decide that our lives are to have meaning, we can go forth and rise above the chokehold of doubt.

 

Now that some of the effects of doubt have been given, we must define the term in order to properly identify the culprit and find the solution. There is a distinction to be made between doubt and what we claim to others that doubt is. People often cite uncertainty as the source of their misconduct. However, if a person does not act and they are aware that their failure to act will likely have detrimental effects on individuals and or their environment and yet decides to go along with that action anyways, that person cannot blame doubt but rather have themselves to blame for the consequences. Doubt is a state that can be described as being uncertain and confused and can therefore be used as a propagator for fear.

 

It is easy for one to simply give up when one is doubtful. To illustrate this, let’s use a common high school scenario that most people can easily identify with. There is a boy that likes a girl. The girl talks to this boy and they become friends. When the girl appears to be attracted to the boy and makes it seem obvious to the boy that she may perhaps be interested in being more than friends, the boy receives the signs as information to add to his catalog of data pertaining to the likelihood that the feeling is mutual. Based off of the information given, it would appear to be reasonable for this boy to advance forward and ask her out on a date. However, when the boy attempts to make contact with the girl she simply does not respond. Now the situation has changed from “She may be interested” to complete obscurity and the boy is left suspended in a state of doubt. It is then that the boy has the decision to make to either give into his fear and run away from the situation, never knowing if the girl liked him or not, or to seek the truth. The boy chooses to use his tool of reason in order to seek out the truth, despite his fear of rejection. It is at this moment that the boy has also shifted his attention away from the expectations of “happiness” to the pursuit of a nobler cause, one that is not self centered. The boy then becomes in control of himself and can bring a solid conclusion to the situation by verifying with the girl whether she is interested in him or not. The conclusion of that scenario is of little importance but even if the boy is “rejected”, he now possesses the truth and can move along because he has conquered himself in that specific instance. The boy acted on the best truth available to him and did not give in to doubt, but instead transformed that very dissatisfaction and doubt which plagued him into the force of his resolve.

 

The simplest way to bring light into the shadow of doubt is to acknowledge that one is in the state of doubt. Usually when one is doubtful, that person will tend to act passionately rather than think things through. But if one is to simply admit to it and acknowledge that doubt is a problem, one can gain a third person point of view of ones self and critically assess whether what one expects from a situation is ethically justified. With this self-critique and inner dialogue, a person is capable of overcoming the fears that arise from the unreasonable expectations and selfish desires one has conjured up in one’s mind. Often enough, it is usually of a greater importance to understand why one is doubtful rather than resolving the symptoms brought about by doubt. It is up to the person whether they want to find the most expedient solution in an order to “feel better” in the moment or if they are willing to face their fears and grow as an individual. This is what it truly means to have no regrets. Having no regrets means living a life of virtuous courage in which one does not give into the temptations of doubt. It is easy to obtain instant gratification; it is easy to give into wanting to feel good in the moment, but that sort of reckless life will surely end in several regrets….. so why not give up that sort of utilitarian view and go along with what will help you and everyone around you in the long run?

 

Assumptions are the result of the victory of doubt over the mind. When we give in to the temptation of doubt, we assume things about ourselves, about other people, about difficult situations in our lives… We miss out on so many great possibilities when we give in to doubt. Our lives are an ocean of opportunities, why let yourself be held down in one spot by the anchor of doubt?

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