The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt. Rollo May, psychologist
What does this mean exactly and how can it help us as writers?
To find out, let’s first think about the word, “commitment” — my handy Century Dictionary defines it as “the act of committing, pledging or engaging oneself.”
When we commit, we pledge to make something happen, to engage in doing something that matters to us. Now the word “pledge” is key. Simply put, a pledge is a promise. So when we commit, we make a promise to ourselves.
Can we make a promise to ourselves, even when we have doubts about what we’re doing? Rollo May gives us a resounding yes! He says that making a promise to ourselves “in spite of doubt” is the healthiest form of committing. Why?
To my mind, the answer lies in the fact that the outcome is uncertain, but we take the leap anyway. If there was no doubt in our mind when we made a commitment, then there’d also be no doubt about the outcome: We’d commit knowing that we could absolutely achieve what we wanted to.
But when we commit in spite of doubt, then our commitment means more. We make a pledge to ourselves even though we fear we may not have everything it takes to get it done. Still, our desire to do something is so strong that we take the leap in spite of our fears and concerns about whether we can do it. That takes courage — the courage to be bigger than our fears. And when you combine courage and commitment, magic happens!
Right now, you may be working on or considering a project that’s risky or beyond what you think you can do — it’s outside your comfort zone. You may have doubts about it, but here’s the good news: With true commitment comes courage — and the ability to find everything you need to succeed. So let doubt have its day, commitment will have its way as we all write on!
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