When Doubt Is Good

Sometimes you just have to say, “fuck the keywords” and write what’s on your mind!

Doubt is good when you know you’re ready for what’s next, even though you don’t yet know what’s next.

A lack of clarity and certainty is very good news when you can see it for what it is.

When the light of understanding is temporarily replaced by the darkness of doubt, the doubt can be very good when you frame it within an anticipation of coming good.

What if that precarious resting place between the completion of one stage and the beginning of the next is nothing more than your soul catching its breath?

I know what I’m talking about because that’s exactly where I am right now, with my writing, my marketing and the next iteration of my calling. (You didn’t think you find your calling and it’s game over, did you?)

You might know that place. It’s the place where everything you think and write (at least to you) smells like shit.

It’s that place when you feel like you don’t give a shit but you really feel that way because you do.

It’s that place when you begin to question every move and wonder when in the hell am I ever going to get my shit together? (At this point in my writing I thought about all the good shit (literally) in my compost pile and I almost went off on a metaphorical tangent about the benefits of combining shit.) See what I mean?

(Early in my blogging career I used the word ‘God’ in a post and lost 60 subscribers overnight. So I figured maybe I’d get them back by using ‘fuck’ in this one. Oh shit those aren’t the same scaredy cats are they?)

(Maybe I was simply ready to go public with the shit-hell-fuck trifecta?) That’s the darker side of the swinging doubt pendulum but it was an accurate read on my mood before I realized I was simply in a state of gloriously good doubt.

(One of my best web buddies, Suzanne Bird-Harris, says I should write more as rugby-playing Tom than deep thinker Tom, so you can credit her inspiration for the off-color candor in this post.)

Self-Doubt Warning

I am not talking about the kind of self-doubt that has you searching the web and comparing yourself to everyone else and coming up short. That shit will kill you. (Maybe I should have called this post Good Shit & Bad Shit?) (Jeez!) (Am I going to end up writing more in parenthesis than not?)

I’m also not talking about the kind of self-doubt that has you questioning anything personal about your capability, talents or identity. That shit stunts your growth and will eventually kill your spirit within.

Good Doubt

Good doubt is simply a lack of clarity of direction. You’re all dressed up and ready to go but you don’t know where you’re headed.

Good doubt is having the balls to hang in there with the unknown. Good doubt is actually embracing the unknown and immersing yourself within it because you know that everything happens for your good.

Hang onto that. The Universe conspires on your behalf.

Everything that happens happens for a good purpose to benefit you. If you can’t believe that, then life really does suck and then you die.

If you’ve ever been where I am right now you’ll know this feeling. You reach the crossroads, all the signs are down and even your inner sense of direction feels foggy.

Halleluiah! Praise the Gods of Change! You have been blessed with the good of uncertainty.

Life is about shifts, adjustments and punches in the gut. Rolling with the punches means not resisting them but using momentum to see the good.

Sorry folks, I have no answers today. I only have questions for those of you who want to leverage your good doubt to arrive at newfound aliveness.

Don’t fight it – roll with it. Just live with some very good questions and see what comes to you. Here are some of my favorite good doubt questions. Use them at your own risk of startling clarity.

What’s missing?

What good purpose might my impatience serve?

What’s next for me that I can’t quite see?

How would Ben Franklin (or respected thinker of your choice) solve this one?

For what good purpose am I experiencing this unpleasant circumstance?

What insights can I almost grasp that would explain where I am?

How can I change my point of view to see things differently?

If I could plug my brain directly into Divine Intelligence, what surge of brilliance might come?

I’m off to meet the Wizard. Tell me what you think of this shit.

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  1. Oh yeah, Tom, put the off-color candor off on ME. LOL

    Granted, I probably cuss more than you do – particularly if I’m riled up about something (which is a lot of the time,) and some might consider me a bad influence in that regard – but what I said, you selective-hearing-male you is that I wished you would write more like you talk when we’re talking on the phone. Yes, that means that sometimes your trifecta shows up, but that was not the point. My point was maybe it would be more authentic if you gave rugby-Tom a voice every now and then, cuz he’s sure the hell in there. I get to talk to him all the time, and he’s pretty cool. (Not to belittle deep-thinker-Tom in any way – he’s cool, too.)


    I’ve been hovering around the place you describe, not quite all the way in it as you seem to be at the moment, but close enough that I can smell it from here most of the time.

    I think I’ve decided – at least for me – that when I get all the way like that, it’s exactly what you suggest: nothing more than my soul catching it’s breath. That answer comforts me, and reminds me to relax into it, because it usually also means another growth spurt is coming and those can wear me the hell out!

    Where I’m at, it’s like my soul is mostly catching its breath, but also wrapping up loose ends, dotting Ts, crossing Is, cleaning up debris resulting from the last growth spurt/iteration of me, getting ready to take a deep breath and dive in again.

    Oh, and hey – Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow and stays that way for the next three weeks, so it’s perfect timing that you’re feeling this way. MercRx is the time to do all the “re” activities: review, refine, redo, revisit, rethink, reinvest, reread, re-everything. It’s all good.
    .-= Suzanne Bird-Harris´s last blog ..Introducing the WordPress Free Clinic =-.

  2. Scott Bishop says:

    All Right Tom!

    But I have to warn you…I feel compelled to comment in the obvious manner, appropriate to the theme…Good Fucking Shit Tom! (Sorry, just couldn’t help myself).

    All smart-ass comments aside, I really get what you are expressing about doubt. I’m in the process of re-inventing my business to be, (although it sounds kind of cliché) a more authentic expression of who I am and what I have to offer.

    I’m at the point, as you put it, of hanging with the unknown and learning to love it!

    My internal “Doubt-O-Meter” is now nearing 10 degrees and after reading your thoughts, I think it dropped a couple more.

  3. Suzanne – No selective hearing applies. I heard you. You did inspire more clearly speaking Tom, I hope. Not blaming you, I’m definitely capable of the cuss. Really I’m grateful.

    By the way, all the way in it is the only way we can get out of it. This really was a positive realization for me. My soul is just taking a breather getting ready for the next round of authentic baring. It’s all good and I appreciate you calling them like you see them.

  4. Tom, again you manage to read my mind. I know you said no answers today, but I think you gave several answers for those who may be suffering with good doubt. Now we know not to run from or resist it but embrace it and just rest in the fact that things are working out for our good. Cheers!

  5. Scott – Welcome. Thanks for cussing right along with me. It’s not my usual expression but sometimes like my dad was fond of saying. “Piss on it!” Cliche or not that’s what we all are here to do. As conscious beings we have no choice but to express who we are. I actually think the periods of good doubt come up when we are ready to explode with new expression. It’s all good, including the confusion.

    Charlene – Welcome. Lovely sentiments. It is a rest in the cradle of new forming thoughts. They are there barely peaking out from the old you. Take a deep breath – lay back and wonder what might be. I’m usually an action guy but in these times I know to wait, allow and recharge in the confidence of coming clarity.

  6. Hi Tom, staying in that waiting/in-between space is really difficult I find. For me the motivation of staying with it is that I know that doing things the old way doesn’t work anymore and that something new will come (EVENTUALLY!!!)

    I really like your questions to gain clarity. Thanks
    .-= Evan´s last blog ..Our Baggage =-.

  7. Hey Tom!
    Okay – I LOVE the YOU that has written this post!! It’s both real and “in your face”. And that just jumps out and says….”hey, it’s okay to question in this life we’re in”. And speaking of questions….what a bunch of great ones you have listed! Hmmm….I think it would be good for me to work through a few of these….
    .-= Lance´s last blog ..Centennial Edition: Sunday Thought For The Day =-.

  8. Oh good, I swear all the time and often feel like I’m alone. I often ask “What the fuck am I doing?!” And the intensity alone helps come up with some clarity for moving forward. Questions are important -cussing or not – questions stir us up! And that stir is sometimes uncomfortable…always living with a new question…
    .-= Stacey Shipman´s last blog ..So Much More than Food =-.

  9. GREAT! This past year, I have found myself saying, “FUCK THIS SHIT!” so much! And it’s not a victimy FTS, either. It’s a cleansing and empowering FTS…. And it feels so good!! (I usually have visions of throwing breaking something to go along with it.)
    .-= Susannah´s last blog ..Amazing Grace – Wintley Phipps =-.

  10. Evan – Yes it is hard. But like you said the old ways are ready for fresh looks and fresh action. I find that stepping over a literal line in the sand prepares me for the coming rush of glorious new ideas.

    Susannah – Well said! Fuck this shit can be cleansing and empowering. It’s also a great way to accept and move on. In fact empowerment might have been the cause behind good solid cussing in the first place. 🙂

    Lance – Thanks buddy. Question we must, especially when we are feeling off our game but know that more good is coming. Yes live with the questions. I’m off to do that again today. Sometimes by answering the same question on multiple days the clarity is induced in weirdly wonderful ways.

  11. Stacey – Damn Straight! 🙂 It’s funny I really can go days without cussing but I really thing the Tom who lets it rip may actually be more authentic. Probably because when I’m holding back I must be doing so because of some fear of being judged. You’re right. The forcefulness of a “what the fuck” inquiry can shake things up enough to see something previously hidden.

  12. Tom,Tom,Tom! (laughing)
    I love this shit!

    One of the best tricks I know of when in this little cave of darkness is to remember that it is a time of gestation. A time to coalesce and rejuvenate (another for Suzanne’s important comment about mercury in retrograde!). The doubt comes up when we forget that this is part of the process – like the chrysalis phase before the butterfly emerges. We need to remember that it is all part of our creation and it is perfect. All will happen in its perfect timing. We can’t see it quite yet but it’s coming. We just need to trust ourselves and our creative process.


  13. Oh yeah – the word is TRUST 😉


  14. Wow… a Divine plan has absolutely been guiding me (in unusual ways of late) into and through a real period of “doubt”. Just when things seemed to be coming together last month with new clients, there was a zig rather than a zag…and I ended up here.

    Where is “here” you ask? Laying in bed with a fractured ankle! After experiencing one of the best hikes I’ve been on in ages (4 hours through a canyon and up a mtn)… the “last mile” found me looking up as my friend in front of me slipped, and the next thing you know I could hear my ankle crack as I caught the edge of a rock and went down hard.

    There’s been a great deal of soul searching the last 11 days… and I have realized how “fractured” my life and direction of a new business were! I’m grateful for this time to really sit back and contemplate my “navel”, thus writing, thinking and perplexing (yes, that’s a new word of mine) on what my next “steps” will be once I’m out of my cast and off the crutches!

    In the meantime, I have the fabulous opportunity of surfing the web for meaningful blogs such as yours! Thanks for the “prod” today! I needed that!


  15. Keena – Yes it is a natural stage of flow. Impatience and confusion serve as excellent reminders for me to trust and simply be. Some stuff does take gestation. But it’s all good and there is silent movement going on within. The calling is still calling, we just can’t hear it as clearly at times.

    Holly – Welcome. I like how you’ve connected the fractures in your life. Now you are in a healing stage of positive reflection. Funny how when we get going too fast and forget to look around life has a way of saying “hold up buddy’ look at what’s here. Rest well and power up for your next adventure.

  16. Nate Chastain says:

    One of the easiest ways to stop getting better at something is to stop doubting yourself and your efforts. It’s no secret that athletes improve most when playing against stronger competitors, and millionaires become billionaires by never being satisfied with their million-dollar work.

    On the other hand, don’t listen to the doubt and judgment from others. If you don’t follow your own plans, you’re going to follow the plans that others have set up for you. What have they planned for your life? Not much.

  17. Nate – Welcome and well said. No one is willing to die for you so we should not live for their opinion. Yep the healthy self doubt can be a great motivator.

  18. I fucking love Suz, God and all that tri-fecta shit!

    You’ve given me the strength to let mt freak flag fly too. I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time but I think I have enough balls to hang in even though I’m fairly clueless.

    I gotta keep remembering what the Patron Saint of Warner Bros once said:

    “Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out alive.” — Bugs Bunny

    I’ll just keep laughing…what else can I do?

  19. Christa – Freak flag flying, I love it! 🙂 Somehow I don’t think you needed my permission. You’re right; having a big set of balls is an excellent replacement for complete understanding. At least the balls keep us moving.

  20. Chris Edgar says:

    Hi Tom — I have moments like this practically every day. I think they can be liberating when I let go of my instinct to make them into a problem and say “you’re supposed to be Mr. Success who’s always got it all together.” The Mr. Success identity is actually exhausting to maintain all the time and I’m grateful for opportunities to drop it.

  21. Good stuff. At Microsoft, we’re trained in paving paths forward while mired in ambiguity and it’s a good thing. By paving the path forward, we find clarity by testing assumptions, learning and responding, and ultimately testing the waters to find the right direction. (to put it another way, it’s way easier to steer a moving ship)
    .-= J.D. Meier´s last blog ..Faith vs. Belief =-.

  22. “You have been blessed with the good of uncertainty,” — heh, heh… or… the God of Uncertainty. I’m having fun with this post Tom — “You’re all dressed up and ready to go but you don’t know where you’re headed.” Well… why did you get all dressed up in the first place? 🙂

    Seriously, I understand COMPLETELY what you are talking about. Yep, sounds to me like you’re on the brink of change. Here’s a few more questions to fuel your tank for the drive ahead (are your windows rolled down?) Cause this shit smell can linger, heh, heh:

    What is the decision you have been avoiding?
    Where are you not respecting yourself right now?
    Who are you trying to please?
    What are you tolerating our putting up with that needs to change so you can move forward?

    Shit… I loved this post!

  23. Chris – Thanks for your candor. My uncertain moments are much more frequent than I’m usually aware of. More and more I think it comes down to asking the right question. What is the question that will allow us to frame our uncertainty in the light of possibilities?

    J.D. – I like that moving ship analogy, so true and freeing. It’s encouraging to know that your entire culture can be compassed in that regard.

    Davina – Thank you it’s grand to be understood. I love your questions as well. I got a direct hit on one of them and that’s beautiful. Self-respect is quite a curious challenge and a glorious awakening.

  24. Thanks Tom,
    You gave me a great laugh and answered a question for me. I have been wondering about using the word GOD, sensitive for some I see. I really like this:
    Good doubt is simply a lack of clarity of direction. You’re all dressed up and ready to go but you don’t know where you’re headed.- where I have been for a few months and I really get this . In the past week clarity has been coming and it feels like I have finally woken up
    Haven’t been here for a while or many other of my fave friends , great to be back in the swing

    Thanks for the challenge- I love how your blog does this 🙂

    .-= Suzie Cheel´s last blog ..Help Me Win The Next Top Spiritual Author Contest =-.

  25. Tom, suffering from a bout of good doubt myself….not quite sure where I’m going, just sure that it’s probably not going to be here (at my present workplace).

    This place is fine, it just doesn’t light me on fire….and life is too short for no pants on fire…

    Anyways, just trying to be patient and wait for the next thing (and try to listen to the small voices that tell me what kinds of action can get me there)….

    .-= Kara´s last blog ..The Dark Side and the Law of Attraction =-.

  26. Kara – Welcome. Sometimes that’s the very best way to get out of where we are – just be certain that it’s not for us and then flip it into a description of what is more for us. I love the small voices but also I wanted to let you know that you can accelerate your calling.

  27. Suzie – You’re always welcome here. I do the same thing in the blogging world and it’s nice to get a visit from an old friend. Don’t worry about using any word. Just be you. That’s what I’ve finally come to. It’s always my pleasure to challenge.

  28. Hi Tom.

    Inspiring post. I laughed…I cried…I said FTS! Now I think I can move on and try figure out “For what good purpose am I experiencing this unpleasant circumstance?” I’m feeling better already.


  29. Laurie – Welcome. FTS is a classic thank you. Be open it will come. Laughing and crying in the same day almost guarantees movement and success.

  30. Thanks Tom. I didn’t mean FTS about you. I meant the unpleasant circumstances! Anyway, sometimes we just need to vent or take a deep breath – then get on with things. Glad I found your blog.

  31. Bill Frase says:

    Tom, Great post! There are so many people right now in exactly the places you are describing. We, in the U.S. at least, have become more human doings than human beings. And what I hear you saying is that when we are at various crossroads in our lives, it’s okay to just be. I’m actually thinking that’s why we attract our crossroads, so that we have the time and space to just be, to be open to possibilties. Let’s go with the flow, and not try to force, control, or manipulate anything to conform to preconceived ideas or fears!

    What a great message and what a great blessing for you to share it as you have. Very authentic! Tom, seriously, you rock. (PS: Personally, I’m okay with the G-word, the f-word, and every other word! It’s all good! It’s all good…)

  32. Bill – Welcome man! Yes that’s right just show up as you are and be that. I like your theory that we attract the circumstances of confusion so we can settle back and just be for a bit. Makes sense.

  33. Welcome to my world, Tom! As an “Enneagram Six” type, I am the Queen of Doubt. It permeates my life and I have to stay conscious to slip out of the shitty bad doubt (vs. the “good doubt.”).

    This was a fabulous post that had me laughing out loud! Thanks for keeping it real!
    .-= Deb Call´s last blog ..Meditation in a Moment =-.

  34. Deb – Glad you got the message and the laughs. What the hell are we going to do? Enlightenment’s a bitch.


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