“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.”
William Shakespeare. Measure for measure.
At the conclusion to the film ‘Doubt’, character Sister Aloysius Beauvier, a character who’s life has been ruled by conviction, of her God, of her faith, says
‘I have doubts. I have such doubts’.
It is a moment that bares such weight in both the film and the play for this characters whole life is challenged by the distrust and ambiguity she now feels through the events we witness as the story unfolds.
This moment suggests, as does the Shakespeare quote above, that doubt can be fatal; fatal to our moving forward (particularly into things that could be lovely) because its main accomplice is fear …and fear can bring such almighty paralysis.
What are we frightened of therefore when we have doubts?
I imagine this is very personal and I don’t presume to answer for you here …but I also believe through experience that there might be a common thread. That for most of us it stems from fear of stepping forward into something that brings our very selves to the forefront; our beliefs, our desires as much as our uncertainties and fears over the thing we are standing up for. Doubt causes us to question ourselves and perhaps what we feel our selves are worthy of.
Too many times have I heard myself and dear friends say during this Masters ‘I’m just aiming for a pass’. And every time marks come back they are the marks they have always recieved, High Distinctions. There is a great mistrust that is reflected in these statements, that they have doubt in their ability, in the value of their work …but all the information they have through life experience tells them that they should not doubt themselves nor doubt what they can achieve now, or in the future. How many times I am wondering in this regard have opportunities been missed because of this mistrust in ability, in the belief that someone else is more worthy?
As a believer in the question mark I’m wonder-ing however if doubt isn’t such a bad thing. That there is value in it. Maybe like fear it is a gutteral, instinctual response who’s real message is to reveal ‘…this is important to me and it’s importance makes me vulnerable’. That ‘I don’t want to screw it up, don’t want to damage it, don’t want to dive head first in and risk failure or getting hurt…’
…I hear myself say. Look to the details that say ‘you can trust this’…and perhaps rather than dive in and indeed fuck it up, dip your toes in first, then your legs, …then hips, waist, chest, head …until you find you are totally immersed in the next chapter. Whatever it may bring.
Wonder. Meant …that in thinking about doubt …in looking as I always do to the dictionary and thesaurus to unpack the words I am using, there, under a list of synonyms are the antonyms… without the word doubt we cannot have words like confidence, clarity, belief …and trust.
Wonder. Meant …that the pause doubt affords us can bring us the very assuredness we need.