doubt is strange.
You can feel it about something that seconds ago you thought was positive and hopeful. But your mindset, which can change however many times it likes, just coats everything in dark permanent ink and suddenly everything is wrong again.
Exhibit A – my stream of consciousness:
The idea that I’m feeling a little better is sort of maybe hopefully resting in my mind recently. But I can’t say that in case I jinx it. I’ve probably already jinxed it. I’m not feeling better am I. Look, I feel rubbish now. That’s your own fault. Don’t think that again.
Where does this all this doubt come from? I’m sure people will say I’m just a bloody negative thinker and I need to stop feeling miserable about the world. But truthfully it’s fear, creeping in from some dark corner of my mind where the bad experiences live. How can I be sure what I’m feeling or what will happen, how can I say I’m getting better, when those experiences tell me that everything can turn upside down in the blink of an eye?
Recently, in my research for my art project on memories, I read this:
“We use our past experiences – episodic memory – as well as general facts, ideas and concepts about the world – abstract memory – in our decision making, hoping that what we remembered from the past makes up for the lack of information about the present and the future.” – Viktor Mayer-Schonberger.
We all do this. It’s so unbelievably human. But it wasn’t until I read this that I realised just how much I rely on this little bit of human nature. How much I scrutinise past experience to make assumptions about my future. I don’t know if it’s healthy… maybe if the government funded mental health services more I’d have a therapist to tell me. But what I know is this:
It’s not something we can stop, or prevent. Unless we had no knowledge of our past, if all memories were wiped and we were innocent beings, exploring and making all our experiences new. Our negative past experiences may warn and protect us, but they don’t always inform us correctly. We create negative associations that aren’t logical, that hamper our progress and growth.
How wonderful it would be, for a moment, to feel influenced by none of them. To jump into something with no fear, no doubt, no voice telling us that this could go wrong because of something that happened once, however long ago.
I know that what I feel is anxiety. But I know that this anxiety is largely informed by past experiences, most of which scare me out of doing things I want to do. Because I know I can feel happy, that I have felt happy and positive and confident.
I just need to find a way to give those experiences first dibs on my future.