[Meditator]: How does one overcome self doubt?
[Bhante Sathi]: We’re aware of the doubts. What do doubts do? When you have doubts you cannot make a decision. Why? Because there might be things on both sides. Most of the time your expectation hangs on one side, but reality hangs on the other side. It doesn’t matter how visible reality is, you don’t see it. Even though you see it, you don’t want to accept it. You have doubts about making the decision. But when it comes to other people, you have expectations of a person’s ability. Even if you don’t know the ability of that person. (For example:) You are just now meeting your nephew or niece who’s 12 years old. What do you assume? You assume that this niece or nephew cannot drive because he or she is only 12 years old. That’s what you assume. Without (actually) knowing, you assume things about people, about their skills or abilities. Then, when you happen to see that the person can drive, your assumption goes away. On the other hand, you have your niece or nephew who’s 20 years old. You assume he or she must have a driver’s license. That’s what you assume living in Minnesota. But if they come from New York where you don’t (necessarily) need a driver’s license and you use public transportation, (which is) always there, you’d be surprised by hearing that they don’t have their license yet and you are 20 years old. Not knowing. Whose ignorance is that? It is your ignorance. Why? Because you assume. You assume. Now, self-doubt. When you come into yourself, who knows you more than yourself? There, there should not be anybody else on the earth (that knows you better). But the question is, what do you know about you? Do you know how you are going to react in certain situations?
Do you know? What would you do if your spouse did the nastiest thing at your neighbor’s house or at a party? If you don’t know, then you have self-doubt, not knowing. So, how can we get to know ourselves? How can we get to know others? From past experiences.
If you know how to read others by knowing what they have done in the past, that’s a good foundation for you to get to know about others. In this certain situation, this is how that person acts. But maybe your assumption or your expectation is something else, but that’s how that person has behaved in the past. Then based on your experience, you can assume, realistically, the future by knowing what that person has done, how that person has behaved in the past. Now, when it comes to you, do you know how you have faced certain situations in the past? Have you improved yourself from that moment until now? What have you done to improve yourself? If you have not done anything to improve yourself from that time to now, probably in the future, you are going to behave in the same way. Then, you know what you will do, how you will behave, and how you will respond.
So that way you’ll not have self-doubt because you know what you will do based on your past. But if you know you have gained some skills from the past until now, then you will have a pretty good idea of how confident you are by facing certain things in the future.
So the antidote or the solution for self-doubt is confidence. Gaining the confidence. Having confidence. Building confidence. Think, you don’t know how to fix a car until you learn how to fix a car. Once, when you learned how to fix the car, then you have confidence. You don’t have a doubt, you know you will find a way to do that. That comes with confidence.
How did you gain confidence? By doing it. By practicing. So that’s how you can overcome self-doubt. Gaining confidence is the answer. Regarding the doubts you have about other people. You have to see what, how they have behaved in the past, how they have faced certain situations in the past.
Don’t let your ignorance make the decisions. If you don’t know something about somebody, just simply say, I don’t know about that person. Because that’s what you know. What you know is you don’t know. Then you stay with something you know. That will not get you caught up into self-doubt. Hope I answered your question then.