As I said in the Dread podcast, I read a lot of articles on productivity, personal development and all that jazz. The result is invariably the same – there’s a huge build up of hopes and expectations and then they are dashed on the rocks below. Great title, long long article and really nothing new. Or worse – “buy my stuff and then see a longer answer to this which will essentially be the same thing, just in long format and you have to pay for it. There are a lot of labels promising eternal youth, a cure for what ails you and super strength. There are article titles telling you that if you just do these two things something remarkable happens. They tell you that they have something astounding to tell you, and that in just few paragraphs you’ll have this tidbit of wisdom that will Change Your Life Forever.
The raising and the dashing
Over and over again, my hopes are raised by just a few words and then four minutes later dashed on the craggy rocks below – shattered and disbursed by the crashing waves that laugh as they smash into whatever little fragments of hopes are left, absorbing them into the salty cold waters below.
Such is the life of someone searching for answers, unabashedly open to the wisdom of others.
So, you can imagine how I approach doing the same thing: making a promise in a title and then delivering something tangible in the body. My labels may not be as exciting with New and Improved and You’ve Never Seen This Before but the formulae is solid.
When I say these two things will make a huge difference, I mean it. When I say I’ve identified a cork that you can pull out to allow stuff to happen I mean it. And I’m not asking for you to Try This For Only 200 Days. No, try it for a day. Try it in the morning, see what happens an hour later. Yeah, I made that bold because you’re lazy and were just skimming. Ha. Gotcha.
What is doubt?
Doubt is supposed to be a ‘feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction.’ Sounds simple enough, right? If you doubt something then you’re uncertain, or not really into it. Well, doubt wouldn’t be such a big deal if that’s all it was – it’s a lot more than that. And more importantly, it’s what it does to you, your schedule and your day.
Here’s what to do about doubt
So here’s what not to do. Don’t just shove yourself into it. Don’t just ‘try’ and think “oh well better just jump in with both feet” and other motivational cliches. No, instead it’s another mental/emotional exercise.
Again set the stage and play it through on your stage. You do this thing and… what happens? Chances are the world doesn’t end. There are usually two versions of what happens next:
You run into the wall of I Don’t Know What’s Going To Happen, that’s the problem! Ahh. You are afraid of the outcome to the point that you just pull the curtains. The actors just stand there. There’s no more to the script. Well that’s not helpful, is it? Nope. So do this instead: Since it’s just a stage in your head open those curtains and when they say “line” tell them. And watch. Watch what happens because your answer of “I have no idea” is like poop to me. You DO know. You have enough experience with humans, young and old, crazy and sane, to have a clue and play it out. So play it out. Now play it out again and change it a little. Now change it again. Did this one seem absurd? Did you feel that it’s just dumb to think that this would be the outcome? Good, then pull back and do it again.
You’re playing with the permutations and possibilities. In other words, you’re both getting in touch with the actual reality, and your understanding of it. It’s both of those things being off that causes the doubt in the first place.
Now do it a final time. Oh, you’re bored? Why? Because its.. obvious that this is how it will work? Then you have done well. Stop judging the article and do it.
“But I’m really bad at [That Thing] and that’s why I have the doubt, you dummy.” you think and/or say.
Ok, if you’re sure then nothing will change when you run through the simulation above right? I’ll wait.
If it did change, then you see how doubt masquerades as knowledge, or lack thereof.
If it didn’t change, then it revealed what you’re not certain about, or why you’re uncertain, and that helps you do solve that and come back.
If you’re the average person, and were experiencing doubt and/or dread, and have truly gone through this simple simulation then you probably no longer feel it.
It’s pretty cool, isn’t it?
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