No Doubt About It
I've never really considered myself a suspicious or skeptical person. I might feel some caution in unfamiliar territory, but generally I'm pretty trusting and adventurous. But, recently I've been noticing a disparity between my self image of trust and my experience of circumspection. Doubt and cynicism seem to be a bit more at home in my psyche than I had thought.
I'm not talking your monumental distrust stuff - like the ongoing plea from the slain Nigerian dignitary's widow begging you to help her save her husband's endangered fortune by letting her transfer it to your bank account for a small good faith fee. Do people still fall for that?
I'm talking about little every-day stuff - an unexpected favor from a relatively new acquaintance or a new fabric cleaner claiming to remove even the toughest stains. When presented with an unfamiliar moment, why is it that we seem to default to questioning motives rather than trusting?
Sure, we've all fallen prey to unscrupulous ne'er-do-wells before. We've been cheated and fooled and embarrassed. Who hasn't? But, unless you live under a ubiquitous black cloud, the incidents of gotcha have been far out-weighed by the wonderful and nurturing side of life.
Yet, we tend to disbelieve easily while believing only after great examination. It's led me to wonder - what's the upside to doubting? What do we get out of it? We're very pragmatic beings who only do things that in some way serve us - however perverse that benefit might seem to others. Like most negative reactions in life, the cause for doubt seems to boil down to a fight or flight impulse. We are programmed to instinctually avoid anything or anyone who appears to be a threat to our survival.
But, the continued evolution of humankind is a balancing act between that primitive physical survival reflex and the collective wisdom of our more spiritually evolved consciousness. Trusting is how we expand, invite possibilities, and create. Trust implies accepting the unknown as the medium for growth.
It's almost laughable to consider that we hold so doggedly to what we believe we think we know. Each second we are exposed to 400 billions bits of information about our reality. It's humbling to know that we only have the intellectual horsepower to consciously assimilate 2000 bits of it. Less than five-hundred billionths of all that the world is telling us is what we use to define who we are, what's real, and what's possible. Would you trust the judgment of someone who was blind to 99.999999995% of all the facts?
And consider this - the miniscule .000000005% that each of us does know is just one of 6 billion other perspectives on the planet. Yet, we believe that we see the world as it is! No, we see the world as we see the world.
Okay, so let's get back to the doubting and skeptical tendencies we have. With our incredibly limited understanding of the world, how can we trust the soundness of our own judgments? We can't - yet it's the closest thing we have to a life-line, so we hang on to it with all the strength we have. We desperately need to feel in-the-know.
Our doubt is born of fear - fear of the unknown. And we trust that doubt. We think that our doubt will protect us from that which we fear. We think that if we have a healthy wariness of strangers and new experiences, we'll be safe. This - to answer a question I posed earlier - is the upside to doubt. Doubt makes us feel protected from all the cheaters and liars.
But doubt has little to do with the cheaters and liars. Doubt is always about us and our fragile sense of self. It's the concern we have that someone will pull one over on us or make us look foolish. And besides, doubt feels better than the potential regret of being taken advantage of.
Like most negative approaches to life, doubt hurts us far more than it protects us and affects us far more than it affects anyone else. To live in doubt is to live a small timid life. You cannot experience this world trapped in a suit of protective armor. When you keep out possible harm you also keep out possible joy. Impenetrable walls are not selective - they block everything.
Doubt is really a self-trust issue. Yea, I know, I convinced you earlier that with that missing 99.999999995%, having confidence in what you know is a bit naive. And it might appear that the odds aren't stacked in your favor. But, self-trust doesn't come from knowing what's out there. It's all about knowing what's inside you.
Regardless of what you know or don't know of the world, have faith that you are stronger than any of it. You are more magnificent than all the Wonders of the World. You possess the seed of all creation. Trust in your eternal and inescapable wisdom. This world is filled to overflowing with goodness for you. Doubt blinds you to that abundance. Trust is the invitation.
"We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy." --Walter Anderson
Karen is author of The Sequoia Seed: Remembering the Truth of Who You Are
, a great read for anyone who is seeking understanding or guidance, inspiration or clarity in his or her life.