A while back I read this interesting post on Psychology Today about embracing one’s uncertainness. Owning it and not running from it. I’m uncertain. I berate myself for it (uncertain people are often self-flagellating, too). I liked the points raised.

Image by Christoph Niemann

The article highlights that the uncertain among us expend a fair bit of energy unable to get a point across, swayed by the (bullying) certain folk among us, or distracted by the anxiety that comes with being uncertain. But there’s an upside: study your doubt. Get to know the patterns. See what’s going on when uncertainty strikes. Thus, writes the author…

“With practice you can become familiar enough with self-doubt and anxiety that you hold them nimbly and un-distractedly…

A benefit is that, when your doubt is exposed in debate it’s no surprise to you.  You don’t flinch with a sudden surge of anxiety about your anxiety. You can stick with the topic under debate, persisting in what you’re insisting on.

If (the certain people) call attention to your doubt, you simply say or imply something like, “Of course I have doubts about my position, as any respectable thinker would.  They fit the standard mold and for you I’ll list them (do this briskly but calmly).  Now that said, I still place my full weight behind my position. The fact that you don’t doubt your position is not evidence that you’re right, just that you’re not much of a thinker.

Thinkers doubt. They’re brave enough to withstand the anxiety that doubt engenders. 

I suspect you gave that up long ago.  Don’t have much of a stomach for anxiety, do you?”

I personally don’t imagine ever repeating the above dialogue (arrogant and aggressive, much?), but it illustrates a really good angle. Thinkers doubt. I doubt, therefore I’m a thinker. And this is a good thing. I doubt, but it doesn’t mean, eventually, I’m not certain. I often reflect that I can take a long time to make a decision, but when I do I never regret it. I rarely regret a single decision. Because I know they’ve all been considered.

And this is another point. The consideration – the thinking – I put into things is actually worthwhile in itself. This is how I know stuff. I know stuff because I dwell. I like knowing stuff.

Do you think self-doubters are brave? Are the certain among us less so?