For much of my life I have been saddled with crippling self doubt. I’ve constantly thought “I can’t” when I really could have overcome whatever imaginary obstacle loomed before me.

I have worked with my spirit for a long time and have reached the point where doubt is no longer my constant companion. It jumps up often but, in most cases, I can think it away or, if it is real, accept it. I am now for the most part in a state of equilibrium when self doubt arrives. I know the difference between real and imagined fears and I know when I’m ducking real issues.

I’ve hated this doubt and have allowed it to rule my life but, as is the case with many traits perceived as bad, I have learned that some healthy doubt and self questioning are necessary to enable me to lead a reality based life of. For many years I envied the seemingly self assured men and women I came across in my business and personal life. I so wanted what they had. I felt incredibly less than and couldn’t seem to shake it. I started to write introspectively and attend groups where people spoke of their doubt and their feelings of lack. It began to occur to me that I had done a lot of work on myself and that I had achieved a level of self honesty that many of the others hadn’t yet reached.

During this time I was a practicing Catholic in a rather conservative parish where there was no doubt whatsoever and I began to see the importance of doubt as it relates to questioning authority and personal motives. The people whose confidence and self assuredness I had theretofore envied began to look like lemmings blindly following the dogma of the church declaring that it had emanated from God. They either didn’t know or didn’t care that the dogma they espoused had been generated by a group of old men who had declared themselves the translators of God’s law.

Today we earthlings are surrounded by three groups who believe they are called to administer the law of God. Of course each of these groups has a different idea of the same God and each is alleges to have been handed different laws. The problem is complicated by the fact that these zealots have weapons and a penchant for divine violence.

We Americans have a president who believes that God wants him to be president and who goes to his heavenly father for advice ignoring his earthly father who held the Presidency before him. He has no doubt about his mission and this absolute lack of self questioning scares me. We have Christian, Muslim and Jewish zealots who believe theirs is the only true way. Our President is a Christian zealot with a passionate following of some 40% of the population of our country. Various factions of the world Muslim community believe theirs is the only way and they can use whatever means they choose to deal with those who differ from them. Jewish zealots believe they can expand their borders as they see fit and the Muslims who are displaced by this react with horrible violence. The Jewish zealots retaliate with even greater violence. The Muslim zealots see our clear preference and aid to Israel and hate us for it.

I think that a proper portion of doubt is a good thing. It leads to questioning and questioning leads to intelligent decision making. My sense is that the kind of certainty I see in our current administration is ignorant and fear based. It smells like the kind of fear that comes when possessions or way of life are threatened.

Thinking people have to know that a nation housing less than 10% of the Earth’s population while burning 80% of the world’s fuel must change. This kind of disparity is simply unsustainable. We’re told that this invasion and occupation of Iraq is not about oil. They say it’s about WMD and removing a horrible dictator. It’s not true. There were no WMD and, yes, we did remove a horrible dictator but let’s face it, this was about oil and our desperate need to continue this unsustainable way of life.

Posted August 6, 2007


What I especially like about this post is the light in which it casts doubt. For most of us, doubt is something we strive to be rid of. You yourself did, as you note.
Yet, as you point out, doubt is indispensable for any person, group or civilization to get along with another person, group or civilization.
True confidence isn’t based in lack of doubt about cosmic stuff–it’s based in lack of doubt about our humanness, fallibility, and being connected with reality.
Very inspirational stuff, Phil, thanks.

The comment below is a repeat of what someone else on this very website stated, and I think it plays in very well with this article on “doubt” to include the subsequent reply. Please forgive my repitition, but I truly feel it to be appropriate in this specific case.

“Out beyond ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”….Rumi”


Rick Maze

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