I recently counseled a new high school graduate scheduled to attend a very competitive college on the country's opposite coast. It will be the first time she is away from home for an extended period, and she began to have doubts about whether she had what it took to succeed.
The prospective college student’s experience reminded me of what I faced during my college journey. I was moving 1,200 miles away from home, stepping into an alien environment surrounded by people I thought had more on the ball and were better prepared for college than I was. Doubtful thoughts flooded my mind.
Doubt, that nagging specter that clouds our confidence and can hold us back, is a near-universal experience. Whether it's doubting our abilities, our decisions, or our worth, doubt has a way of creeping into our lives when we least expect it.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have taken to heart a scriptural reference in Philippians that says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Christ is another name for our divine nature that can help us transcend all doubt so that we live from the consciousness of faith and what's possible.
With the benefit of hindsight and personal experience, I shared with the soon-to-be college student a few strategies and ideas for working through her doubts about attending college. Anyone can use these strategies in their life.
Start with the understanding that our thoughts and beliefs shape our reality. This awareness reminds us that our inner world profoundly influences our outer experiences. With this realization, we grasp how doubt is more than a fleeting feeling; it’s a force that can shape our lives if we let it.
When we doubt ourselves or our abilities, we are, in essence, using the power of our God–given minds to create experiences filled with uncertainty and limitation. This can hinder our personal growth and paralyze us from taking risks, pursuing our dreams, and embracing new opportunities. It's like an anchor that keeps us tethered to our comfort zones, even if they are far from fulfilling.
To overcome doubt, we must embark on a spiritual journey within ourselves. Toward that end, here are three approaches to help us overcome doubt in our lives:
1. Practice Self-Compassion and Acceptance
Instead of taking ourselves to task for feeling doubt, we practice self-compassion. We remind ourselves we are divine beings, inherently worthy of love and success. When we treat ourselves with kindness and accept our human imperfections, doubt loses its grip, and we realize that what is within us is more powerful than the circumstances we face in the world.
2. See Doubt as an Opportunity
We can always reframe doubt as an opportunity for transformation. When doubt arises, it’s a sign that we’re stepping out of our comfort zones. Instead of retreating, we can lean into the discomfort and view it as a chance to refine our skills, collect more information, and strengthen our spiritual resolve.
3. Build a Supportive Community
Surrounding ourselves with positive and supportive people is essential. Doubt can be contagious, but so can confidence and optimism. When we surround ourselves with like-minded people who uplift and encourage us, doubt shrinks, making way for inspiration and shared growth.
I shared with that prospective college student that we all experience doubt at one time or another. However, it doesn't have to be a permanent state. Moreover, doubt is not just a personal journey; it's a collective one. As we overcome doubt, we contribute to positive transformation wherever we are – our schools, communities, and world.
So, we remember how our thoughts can shape reality and influence our environment. As we embrace our divine potential, practice self-compassion, reframe doubt as an opportunity, and immerse ourselves in supportive community, doubt evaporates and returns to the nothingness from which it has come.
Peace and Blessings,