4 Steps to Overcoming Doubt

Doubt. That little word that carries so much energy if we let it.

“I doubt this meditation thing is really working.”

“I doubt I’m being supported by God/Spirit/Divine/etc.”

“I doubt I’m loved.”

“I doubt I can do this.”

I’ve had all of these thoughts. I’ve also doubted my path sometimes. Of doing this as a career – writing, teaching, mentoring. Then a client tells me how much their life has changed because of working with me, and the doubt dissolves, again. It rises again at times, and it dissolves again. 

You’re not alone in feeling doubt – about yourself, your path, your career, your meditation practice, your family, the weather, or whatever it is.

In Buddhism, doubt is actually what’s called “a hindrance.” It’s one of the 5 mental hindrances of meditation (or the path of awakening).

Doubt can be so strong it can stop you in your tracks, possibly for years.

So what can you do about doubt? Well, there’s actually a really great acronym (created by those wonderful Buddhist people) called RAIN.

R = Recognize

A = Accept it

I = Investigate it; be curious.

N = Non-Identification.

  1. Recognize the doubt. You know it might be there because you first notice a sinking feeling in your chest (body awareness). Then you reflect and ask yourself, “What was I just thinking about that created this sinking feeling?” A-ha – you recall a thought that said it’s unlikely all this “work” (meditation, counseling, self-help books) you’re doing on yourself is really helping.
  2. Accept the doubt. This is important. Notice if you’re trying to push away the doubt. If so, you’re actually making the doubt stronger (what we resists persists). Welcome the doubt in. Literally say, “Thanks, doubt, for being here.”
  3. Investigate the doubt. Be curious. Where is it in your body? Where do you feel it? In your chest or stomach? What does it feel like? Simply notice.
  4. Non-identification. Doubt does not define you. It is not who you are, who you have been, or who you will be. It is a passing thought and emotion that comes and then goes. When you take the time to notice that it’s there, you have the chance to actually respond to it and tell the truth about the doubt. Is it true that none of what you are doing is working? Or is it just not working how you expect it to be, or in the time frame you want it to be in? Open to what the truth actually is.

Do I still experience doubt sometimes? Definitely. Does it take over? Definitely not. I go through the process above. It helps every time. Sometimes I’ll even throw in an affirmation for good measure, “I’m on the right path. I listen to my intuition. I trust myself. I trust Divine/Spirit.” I say it as many times as I need to. 

Come back to the truth. The mind will say all kinds of things that aren’t true (daily meditation practice and meditation retreats are helpful in seeing this). Through noticing and awareness you have the opportunity to change it instead of going into the self pity mental toilet bowl (which I use to go into a lot).

See doubt as a teacher. A teacher of learning the truth about you and what is actually reality. You are supported. You are intuitive. You are wise. You are loved. You are love. You are guided. This is TRUTH.

Categories: Heart Centered Living

About the Author: Angela Patnode

My passion, my calling, is for you to be totally you. Through private coaching, in-depth retreats, and online group coaching programs, I help you tap into your intuition and clarify your desires and vision, I guide you to take active steps toward making your desires a reality.

4 comments to “4 Steps to Overcoming Doubt

  1. Dan Rutt

    4 steps to overcoming doubt, loved the article, it made me realise that doubt is an everyday part of reality. How true when you say welcome doubt in and deal with it. I try and do this every time I feel doubt creep in about something in my life, it really works. Thanks again Angela for clarifying any doubts I have had about my life and what’s happening in it, you always know just what to say to put me on the right path.

    1. Angela Patnode

      I greatly appreciate your comment Dan. I’m so glad I can help. Transitions are often a time where doubt comes up more strongly than others – transitions out of and into other work, moving from one place to another, leaving a relationship, etc. The big ones of life. It is normal, as you said. It’s part of our human experience. I’m happy for you and the changes you are making for yourself!

  2. Patrice

    Thanks for the great acronym, so very helpful!

    1. Angela Patnode

      You’re welcome Patrice! I like that it’s easy to remember.

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