“I Wish I Were Not Troubled by Doubt! Then I Could Be Confident and Commit to Something!”

A friend complained to me that she was troubled by doubt and wished she could overcome it.  She envied the passionate lives of others — those who committed to relationships and causes.  Why can’t I be like them?  was her oft-time complaint.  Why can’t I find meaning by loving Jeremy as my friend Wanda does,  without noticing his mental and moral limitations?  Why can’t I throw myself into protecting the walrus herds of the ice floes as my college roommate Encenita does, without troubling myself with the fear that my energy could be better spent caring for people rather than those tusky ice-slugs?  “After all” and this was approximately at the crescendo of her aria contra dubitatem “Isn’t doubt itself something to be doubted?  If everything can be doubted, shouldn’t a policy of avoiding commitment be doubted as well?  And if so, does it not fare rather poorly under interrogation, depriving me as it does of love, passion, romance, enthusiasm and commitment?”

It’s hard not to sympathize with her predicament, but I believe she has made a mistake.

“I doubt that Jeremy is an interesting man.” is, once unwrapped

“I see things about Jeremy that are limiting.”

And if you see things about Jeremy that are limiting, you cannot upon pain of self-deception, be as interested in him as your friend who doesn’t see those limits.

So the wish to be free of doubt about Jeremy is really the wish that Jeremy be a less limited man, and worthy of your interest.

Similarly with the walrus example.  Your friend does not see anything better than helping walruses.  You do.  Your doubt is not something separate, floating above the situation, ruining your walrus passion.  It is another way of saying, you see problems where your friend sees none.

The world is full of projects and people asking us to lie to ourselves to achieve solidarity with them.  They are no good and you know that, because you can see through their lies.

Doubt is not truly speaking the enemy and commitment is not truly speaking your friend.

Your goal is to find something that increases your power and freedom and then get it.  Doubt is just a way of saying that you are, justifiably, worried that some thngs might not be worthy.  You may well be correct.  Commitment and passion will come, like it or not, once you discover something (or someone) that makes you powerful or free.




17 thoughts on ““I Wish I Were Not Troubled by Doubt! Then I Could Be Confident and Commit to Something!”

  1. The worst thing that I have done with myself is commitment in a false passion; I had lived with the shadow of the doubt if I have proceeding in a right or wrong way;.thanks for this reflection of life.

  2. I agree your friend has made a mistake. I wouldn’t say she is plagued by doubt. It seems she pretends to want what others around her have and ego can not fault herself for not having those things, so she blames Doubt. Instead of an imperfect man she actually would rather do without. . She feels walrus are not worth caring and wasting her passion so she supports nothing. She is blaming doubt for a lack of passion. I doubt she has many friends, she even degrades Wanda. If she found a man of good intellect and morals, she would reject him saying he held his spoon like a shovel. Perhaps she is very selfish and that’s why she has no passion where anything not benefiting herself, her superior intellect, and her wants are concerned.

    What I know about her is through what you have written. I don’t much like her. So, you are a persuasive writer.

  3. Dr. Eel says:

    Now you’re cooking with fire.

    Power + freedom = happiness

    Not a moral position, simply a fact. Some human truths can be reduced to simple equations.

    The case of Koothrappali ver. 1.0 is one of commitment. Fear of the simple commitment to exist vocally to another, erupting into jaw-clamping terror. Fear of the fear of something undefined. Flight, not fight because the threat is internal. That is a flaw in the dramatic character of Koothrappali, with the exception of Sheldon’s sister in the Caltech hallway (The Shiksa Indeterminacy). He walked away casually but he could have less uncomfortably run while looking over his shoulder. It would have taken superhuman effort to pause at the bulletin board. Someone that disturbed wouldn’t be able to stay in the same room with an attractive female who could potentially want his attention, for any reason, much less share a “texting date” with a potential mate. Though for all I know some preparation could ameliorate his terror-state to the degree he could interact non-verbally; so there would be a fear scale with a most terrifying complete surprise on the heavy end and an encounter which was prepared for carefully over a period of time with lots of research and relaxation exercises and such on the light end but I’m not experienced in that. Suffice it to say that it is fear which shuts his mouth and that fear affects more than his speech.

    (Raymond’s (“Rain Man”) self head beating is comparatively dilute. Autistics do beat their own heads but they do so far more violently as the desired result is to knock themselves unconscious in order to avoid unbearable internal frustration.)

    Thank goodness for artistic license! And what fun playing with flawed characters!

    In TBBT’s bastard child “Young and Hungry” (c’mon ABC, now do something original. We already have the equation. Proximity over time, opposite charges, sympathetic tension. Stroke of genius, no? Should be a way to patent stuff like that), the inertia currently maintaining Josh and Gabi’s orbit is a commitment issue on the part of Josh who is far less disturbed than Koothrappali and resides closer to the center of the spectrum.

    Both are cases of exaggerated overvaluation. The object (intimacy or the potentiality thereof; i.e. a life-affirming situation) becomes frighteningly more valuable than it would be in the mind of a more balanced personality.

    On the other side of the spectrum is your friend. Here is someone who values far less passionately than Raj and Josh. If she’s anhedonic to some degree (due to depression or something worse) she necessarily derives less pleasure from interactions with other humans and being helpful to defenseless animals.

    Remember we are all merely biological machines subject to flaw and malfunction and one may patiently reserve judgment. Your friend is saying to me “I wish I could enjoy my life more” and I would suggest she research depression and its causes. There are plenty of causes in our environment which may have negative psychological effects and plenty more in our food. For some, gluten is poison to the mood. Imbalanced intestinal flora. Chronic dehydration. Alcohol! Hopefully she’s got some scratch because some of those solutions are expensive.

    She should consider abandoning life-quality relativity considerations. She could focus the energy she saves on the enhancement of the quality of her own life. She might enjoy a mindset of solitude.

    • I agree. “Some human truths can be reduced to simple equations”.

      Love Big Bang characters. I questioned, how did rich Raj come this far in education and in geography (India) without speaking to women? Maybe a backstory I didn’t see that explains it?

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