Berthoud Consulting

Berthoud Consulting

Ode to Doubt

Recently, while avoiding a writing project, I realized doubt was ruling me. You might relate. You have reasons why the daunting presentation, promotion, innovative project, or approach won’t work. The doubting mind seems so reasonable. So, I wrote this letter to Doubt.

Dear Doubt,

I’m done with you. You try to protect me from dangers real and imagined but you’re all over me. Questioning, second-guessing, saving me from fantasized perils of failure and shame.

Doubt, you masquerade as wisdom, when really you are fear acting as a brake. Driving with the brake on will wreck a car. Not my life, thank you. I thought I’d write a book then you showed up. Time for you to go.

You linger, a persistent fog sagging otherwise crisp confidence. You are not assuaged by accomplishment. You dismiss any crest with, Oh yeah? How about this? About something not yet done or done well by someone else. You do spur success. Any achievement so easily dismissed requires another. But proving you wrong is futile. You are bottomless.

But you will not win, lurk as you might at the edges of all endeavors. Confidence is here, too, taking sustenance not from accomplishments but from something deeper and larger and hazy to you. Confidence feeds on even small success and the love and heartfelt hugs of family and friends. The gratitude for small kindnesses that seem small but mattered to the recipient.

Once I housed someone in a bad patch. A friend remarked, How generous! I replied, If you say so. There you are, Doubt, measuring what can’t be measured, using the wrong scale. A miser in the land of abundance. My friend noticed I gave freely, i.e., was generous. She was right.

Doubt, you pose as a cross-examiner. Confidence, the defendant, is clearer yet of a subtle and vast tenacity. But, like an egg, its poles must be aligned correctly to withstand your onslaught. If pressure is applied just so, the egg, and confidence, will crack.

Confidence is a life force sourced deep and wide. Like a plant it must reach towards the light and offer its bloom to whatever bird, insect, or human eye passes. It does not demand center stage. It exists and that is the point.

This is not to deny facts like gravity or needed skill. Yes, encourage appropriate preparation. But, Doubt, admit that you don’t know, can’t know most outcomes. You can’t protect me from the future. My job is to try, then assess and adjust, to keep moving toward my light.

Doubt, you are a soot that obscures the shine of Confidence. You are voices recorded in the mind but not true. You will be cleared away, again and again, with a daily dusting of the soul.

When you face doubt, or other thoughts and feelings that seem true because the mind is in self-protective overdrive, you can create a character. What’s your letter or story?

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