Doubt is a part of life my friends. There is no getting away from it. Much like the topic of waiting that I wrote about last week, doubt is something we must face each and every day of our lives. Sadly, doubt can have a devastating effect upon each and every one of our lives.
It can eat away at our confidence. It can paralyze us and leave us to be devastated by the winds of change as they swirl around us. My friends, I would suggest that doubt often creates the high walls which surround the valley of the shadow of death through which we so often have to pass in the fire service.
Doubt is one of the most easily induced problems we must face in life. It can come upon us slowly, or it can burst upon the scene with explosive speed. One of the great dangers comes from the fact that doubt occurs within the fragile confines of our minds.
Doubt and courage are two closely aligned human responses to life. They are so intimately intertwined that you may often bounce back and forth between them much like a shuttlecock bouncing between badminton rackets. It is up to you to make the proper choice.
Usually doubt arises in response to issues with ones expectations. How many of you can recall be told by your parents to aim high in life? My Dad told me to set high goals and work hard. This is of course good advice. I am certain that many of your parents shared the same thought with you.
In line with this, I cannot imagine any parent telling a child to set their sights low and expect a great deal of crap from life. What few parents are willing to share with their offspring is that by setting your sights high, you are also setting high expectations for yourself. More than that, you are creating a higher potential for doubt to creep into your mind.
Having failed to tell their children this, they have done their children a slight disservice. What they might better have said goes something like this.
- Set high goals for yourself.
- Expect pressure to perform at those higher levels.
- Be warned that you may not reach every goal you set.
There is a strong positive aspect to setting high standards my friends. Even if you fail to achieve the heights you set, the fall off from your target should leave you at a higher level than if you set lower goals for yourself. By failing to share this little bit of sidebar information with our families and our fellow travelers, we fail to prepare them to expect doubt.
What you expect from life and what life dishes out to you are a great example of how doubt comes into our lives. Some of us think that we are better at something than we really are. When we try and do not perform as well as we should, doubt begins to creep into our psyche. There is a danger at work in this scenario.
Let me assure you that danger such as this lurks everywhere. One of the great dangers each of us faces arises from underestimating the effort needed to succeed in life. We see others who reach the top of their professions with seeming ease and then come to expect that for ourselves. That creates the danger of setting unreasonable expectations.
If you were honest with yourself, you would see that the other person who seems to succeed with ease had to work to get where they are. We often see only the success. We are not able to look more closely into the successful person's life and observe the day-in and day-out drudgery that was required to succeed.
In this case you might fall victim to the green-eyed monster of jealousy. Not knowing how hard that person worked, you set too-high expectations for yourself. These are expectations that you can never realistically reach. Hence, by not knowing yourself, and overestimating your capabilities, you set yourself up for doubt and frustration.
Perhaps the hardest lesson that life holds for each of us is really quite simple. You will not get everything you want. You will end up getting what you get. The hard part of life is learning to settle. Some people never do come to grips with this and thus spend a life fraught with frustration and doubt.
How often have you read my words on the need for patience in the living of your lives? The concept of persistence is an able sidekick to the servant of patience. Sometimes the best you can do is to keep soldiering on in the face of life's challenges.