Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Doubtful Mind: Is it a Positive or Negative state of Mind?

Carpenters have a pretty good working balance: "Measure twice. Cut once."  

Doubt, is a natural instinct provided to all the creatures in life. By nature, doubt, is a highly protective instinct, to be used in moderation. When used in excess, it can work against progress. Like many other characters we are born with, it has to be used in moderation and subjected to examination. And like many other things, it's sort of paradoxical.

Doubt like conscience is a regulator of our mind: A doubtful mind has its positive side, it is our natural endowment to create, to invent and to change. All inventions in the world, all creative processes including free thinking stem from our ability to doubt the concepts, ideologies, doctrines imposed upon us by society, religion, culture etc. Without doubts, free thinking is not possible. And without free thinking, the progress of knowledge and desired changes required with changing epochs, changing environmental and technical challenges would not be possible. The growth of mankind will be stagnant, all inventions and creative process that take us forward in evolutionary scale will come to a standstill. But doubt in a disproportionate magnitude turns into suspicion and pathological condition.

Doubtful mind seems paradoxical, with both bright and shadow side: If doubt is a brief precursor that stimulates questioning and learning then it is a healthy, positive state of mind. When doubt becomes internalized as self-doubt and begins to erode one's self confidence, then it is a negative state of mind. If doubt leading to strive for knowledge and action for betterment is the only way to grow. If doubt leading to further doubt may still be good if ultimately leads to knowledge and action. But doubt leading to inaction and closed mindedness is killer. So it depends on what we do with that doubt - how we respond to it. Doubt may encourage us to gain more understanding - that would be positive. But remaining always in doubt is negative state of mind! Doubt may be from ignorance and a reason to simply deny what we do not understand - that would be negative as well.

The wise says, "if you doubt at first, doubt again." which means that any doubtful situation or thought should not be left unattended especially when the impact of that situation is possibly big. You can not leave anything unaddressed which may put your activities/plans in jeopardy. Having said that, if you have doubt, you can take next baby step to see the reaction. If reaction is big, take back the step and reanalyze, redetermine and restrategize. Doubts about a possible impediment, devising ways to overcome the impediment, being prepared for some enroute 'surprises' (either pleasant or otherwise), in the journey, courage, confidence to face unpleasant surprises are the aspects we have to look for. With all the efforts, the end results may not exactly be the way we foresaw, but would definitely be one that would benefit many.

Some say doubt has no specific state of mind. it is attributed to it by 'us.' A doubt is a doubt. It has no state of mind. A state of mind is attributed to it by 'us' - at times, even without knowing what the doubt is, without considering its relevance or otherwise to the objective. If only we make an effort on these lines before attributing a status to it, things would be much better. Maybe doubt is just our interpretation of, or label for, some external stimulus?

Balance is the key. doubt in its reasonable proportion is a positive force of mind: creative, innovative and more often than not is path-breaking, thereby effecting bifurcation point in human history. Societies across the world put emphasis on conventional wisdom as the quintessential value for life. This is because; societies obstinately discourage change and conserve ideas and doctrines for maintaining social order and functionality. Free thinkers normally do not fall in line with the dogmatic and obsolete social systems. They pose threat and menace to the complacency of the common man’s perception of life and living values. Hence, balance is needed. Unbalanced thinking causes for motion. Balance causes for stability and status. 

Therefore, the right dose of doubt stimulates critical thinking and human progress, but too much doubt causes conflict and close mindedness.


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