Looking for Doubt in All the Wrong Places

Image by Jeffrey
Image by Jeffrey

There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up relations.

(posted by) Phra Woody

Once again I find myself at a crossroads. Yet, as I reflect more deeply, I realize that I’m not really at a crossroads at all. I’m simply where I am, doing the best I can to follow wisdom, and somehow in spite of doubt, managing to accomplish that from time to time.

It’s interesting how the mind can trick us into thinking that what we want is so different from what we already have. Craving for security and confidence can quickly turn into doubt. As we grasp for illusionary straws in the air, delusions of grandeur attempt to convince us that some thing, person, thought, or experience will bring stability and well-being. I recognize the delusion, and I know that “stability” can only come from within. Even then, there will be layers of emotional reactivity and unwise thoughts to contend with. Habits run deep, especially when they’re so conditioned that we barely recognize them.

What struck me from the quote was: Doubt separates people. Here’s my confession: I think that I’m an optimist, and to be fair, I am when it comes to believing there is unlimited potential in every being. However, having faith in the human capacity to grow and heal is not the same as trust. Enter the pessimist. I know as human beings we will hurt and harm one another – whether intentionally or not – so, doubt arises.

Even though it took me years to recognize, I am one that tends to go against the grain. I naïvely thought that it was ok with others that I saw things differently because it was ok with me when they viewed things differently from myself. Time after time, I watched the same story play out. Doubt arises, judgment and rejection follow (usually couched in defensive behavior), and separation occurs. As the quote says, doubt becomes a poison that disintegrates friendships. 

For a long time, I thought that I was the poison. I clung to the fantasy that if I just learned how to articulate more skillfully, clarify my acceptance and lack of judgment, and convey support for others that the toxic effect would go away. But, human beings are complicated. We can’t control or change others views and opinions. As individuals, we perceive through filters of conditioning and karma. I know this, and I accepted this a long time ago….. or did I?

It took me a while to admit that I’m a bit of an outcast. What’s funny is that some aspect of my personality is still attached to a notion of inclusion, acceptance, and normality on a social level. In spite of knowing that I don’t fit the norm, denial spurs the mind towards desiring something else. So again, I move towards acceptance. Accepting that I know how silly it is to attempt to quiet doubt utilizing the views and opinions of others.

The moment I recognize that, I start to break free of the delusion. I open the door to accepting my way of being for what it is. I can let go of craving to become something that I am not. In that moment, there is hope and space for gratitude. The crashing waves of doubt calm, the toxins release, and faith and trust begin to emerge again.

© 2015 Sallie Odenthal


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