Saul’s Laws:* #6. Doubt

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

*See the Preface to the “Saul’s Laws” page at the WordFeeder.

Ever said, written or done something, something important that you weren’t entirely sure about, and then regretted it?

The uncertainty you were feeling was your brain’s way of telling you that it didn’t had enough time or information to evaluate the consequences of what you were about to do. Or maybe it was that emotions were attempting a coup, taking charge of your decision process, rather than just being content to be part of it. Who knows?

The only thing we can say for sure is that, for some reason, you weren’t comfortable. There was a palpable, at least momentary uneasiness that you had to ignore or override. Could be fear you were experiencing. More often, it was the apprehension, the mixed signals that come from inexperience or from the conflict between what you’ve learned from experience or have been taught and the circumstances of the moment.

It’s for times like these that we have this particular Saul’s Law: “If you have any real doubt about doing something, something that could be important, don’t do it. Wait until it feels right.” Still want to do or say it? Maybe you can change the rules or context, even a single word can make a difference, until the instinctive uneasiness you’re feeling has resolved itself.

Too conservative for you? What? You we’re expecting something more like, “When in doubt, go for it.”? My father was a Republican.

The more astute among you may be sensing a contradiction between this law and #5: “Never let being afraid stop you from doing the right thing.” For the record, in the latter case, Saul was talking about doing things having moral or ethical content, not bungee jumping.

Also for the record, Saul’s Laws are full of contradictions. When I was older, and would confront him on just this point, he would argue that it was on purpose, but I would see the corners of his mouth turning up which was a sure sign he was just pretending to have thought about it. In fact, if there was one thing he was trying to accomplish, it was to get me to think, about what he had to say and everything else. At that, he pretty much succeeded.


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