You may have read, and you’ve certainly experienced, that our brains are wired with a negative bias. From and evolutionary perspective this is to keep us on the lookout for danger in order to be prepared if it is ever to strike. But when we get a new job, relationship, parenting or many other areas of life, it squashes what could be a joyful and exciting experience. In fact, one of the greatest offenders when it comes to the negativity bias is “doubt,” but there’s a way to reverse the doubting habit and open up to the joy that is already there.
Here’s the practice and I’ll keep it short and sweet so you can take it and begin experimenting with it in your life today:
- Be on the lookout for doubt – Get curious about where doubt comes up in your life. Does it spring on you in the midst of a positive experience? When you look over the bed at your beautiful sleeping baby, do you wonder if something terrible might happen that may take him away? If you get a new job offer and then immediately wonder if you’ll measure up? Does doubt arise in the midst of any opportunity or challenge that squashes the excitement for it?The task here is simply to be on the lookout for where doubt arises in your day.
- Understand the purpose of doubt – Doubt is there to keep you safe, however misdirected it may be. Sometimes doubt can save your life, like when you see a shiny blade swinging in a dark alley way, the doubt about going down that alley way is telling you something important. However, often times it’s misdirected, but it’s still important to recognize the intention is still to keep you safe.The task here is simply to recognize that doubt is not your enemy, although it may be misdirected in the moment.
- Thanks, but no thanks – When you notice the doubt and understand it’s trying to be helpful, you can note this to yourself and also note that this doubting habit is actually causing you more suffering and squashing the upside of the moment.Practice: “Breathing in, acknowledging the doubt and its purpose, breathing out, letting it go.”
- Swap it with gratitude – After acknowledging the doubt, seeing it for what it is, and practicing letting it go, immediately bring to mind what you’re grateful for about the situation at hand. If the doubting is around your parenting and children, think about what you’re grateful for around your own awareness with parenting and your children. If it’s around a new upcoming job, what do you appreciate about this upcoming opportunity? If it’s about any challenge, consider what you’re grateful for.
If you set aside any intentions of achieving the elimination of doubt and instead focus on what you learn as you make this a practice in your life, you will be well served.
Remember, doubt has its place, but if it’s placing itself in a situation that is stripping away your joy and excitement, this may be a good place to implement this reversing the doubting habit.
Try it out as an experiment, let go of any expectations and see what you notice.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Man at the beach photo available from Shutterstock
Last reviewed: 22 Apr 2013
Goldstein, E. (2013). Squash Doubt and Step into Joy. Psych Central.
Retrieved on March 8, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2013/04/squash-doubt-and-step-into-joy/