The Difference Between Being Scared & Having Doubts

by Shannon Ables
Eastern Oregon writer
The Simply Luxurious Life

“New things are scary. Anything worth having is scary.” 

– Shonda Rhimes script on the series finale of Private Practice

Many people ask me where I find inspiration for each week’s posts, and while I can honestly say I find inspiration everywhere, what inspired today’s post were two different items I read – one an article and one a book – over the past week and weekend.

While reading Hope Alcocer’s contributing blog post to Verily regarding red flags when it comes to relationships, I was reminded of doubt, and how instinctually, when I have doubts, it is my subconscious pointing out something that I haven’t fully grasped but am being heeded to take time to investigate. In complete contrast, while reading Barbara Stanny’s book Secrets of Six-Figure Women, I was reassured that having fears is natural if what we are seeking is something we genuinely want – a life change, a new job, etc.

There is significant evidence to support the claim that having doubts about something is much different than being scared or having fear about something. Simply, doubt is a red-flag that has been honed through your life’s experience and fear is a natural uncertainty based not on experience but perhaps the voices of others, society, etc, but not the doubt you have regarding your own abilities.

“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”
-Bertrand Russell

In fact, when you are fearful or scared it is because you actually have no evidence that you can or can’t do it, which is all the more reason to try. It is natural to feel apprehension as you have no proof that you will succeed, but the good news is, you have no proof that you won’t either. If indeed we desire to take that leap of faith and work toward a dream that others may not grasp yet or pursue a life change that breaks the mold, we are fearful partially because we are excited about the change it will bring, and fearful that we won’t be able to make it happen. In this case, so long as you believe more resolutely that you can rather than you can’t, you will be successful.

“’How does one become a butterfly?’ she asked pensively, ‘You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.’” –Trina Paulus

On the other hand, having doubts involves previous experience, knowledge of similar behavior and an ability to know more about a situation than others either want you to know or don’t even understand themselves. For example, in a previous relationship that I eventually ended, I began seeing red flags (or having doubts) five months prior to the relationship ending; however, I didn’t want to accept what I knew instinctually to be true, so I kept working at the relationships. It wasn’t until I saw evidence of my doubts realized that I recognized my instincts were correct, and I thankfully chose to follow what I had subconsciously been aware of all along. Much later, other further evidence reassured me that I had made the correct decision. The good news about doubts is that they are our constant warriors of protection, and it is our job to investigate what they are trying to tell us.

The key to discerning the difference between whether you are feeling doubt or fear is to know yourself fully. Only you can honestly say why you are feeling what you’re feeling. Only you can say, I want it so bad that if I don’t achieve it, I will ache incessantly. Only you can say, I don’t trust what is promised. There is a great difference between these two statements. Know yourself, and you will know how to proceed.

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