In American culture, we are socialized against doubt and doubting. Reason is religiously, specifically Christianity, we do not want to be labeled as the "doubting Thomas" - the disciple who did not believe Mary of Magdalene when she said that Jesus was resurrected. In the scriptures is says:
Jesus said to him, "Is it because you have seen me that you have believed? How blessed are those who have never seen me and yet have believed!" John 20:29
The fact is about this scripture is that the "Doubting Thomas" as it is called needed to see the resurrected Jesus to believe the scripture had been fulfilled.
Fine. I get that. But why do human have Doubt then? Psychologically, what would be the evolutionary significance of employing this thoughtful emotion called doubt? "Thoughtful" because one has to really consider all the thoughts, images, sayings and statements in one's mind before taking action on this emotion of basically, not picking a side and/or procrastination. Moreover, "doubt" as an emotion is one of the early intermediate response emotions we learn to survive evolutionarily. It is a part of judgment that we learn for our survivability. Without judgment, involving emotional responses of joy, anger, doubt, etc., we would not know how to learn, evolve and contribute to society and improved civilization. We humans would still be stuck in the stone ages re-inventing the wheel.
So DOUBT biologically seems to be, in my humble opinion, a useful emotion to help me judge my safety and security of my situation. The "Doubting Thomas" situation, seems rather an issue of trust and faith which is a higher order emotional thought process rather than basically taking something said at face value. And it seems like Thomas had to revert back to his survival tactics to process what he just witnessed--the Crucifixion--an old execution method that was extremely violent to subjugate the on-lookers into a societal compliance.
DOUBT as a carnal emotional necessity HELPS us survive when our brains can no longer logically process a traumatic event or make huge life altering decisions or when we plainly do not want to make changes in our life. For example, there are many decisions I need to make right now that I do not want to make blindly, I want a more logical process to I choose the best choice. Not haphazard. Because when I make these kinds of choices irrationally, I am usually paying for the mental heartache in the end. As a sufferer of bipolar disorder, that is unhealthy for me and the goal for me is to be healed. Randomly making choices without considering its full implications is juvenile, inconsiderate and costly to me at this time in my life.
Hence, I have stopped going out to event when I am not told 1 week in advance, go out of town 2 months in advance, and randomly do things that risk my mental health security. I mean hey, I can be spontaneous, but my spontaneity looks like mania and is dangerous. I cannot freak out in the airport TSA line and think I will not get arrested...That is what mania in combination of anxiety does to people with mental health conditions.
We have to compromise, psyche ourselves out and work hard to get to the point where we take action. And it is not under others time frame. The unfortunate aspect is, for a job one has to do what is needed. Some of us get that and maneuver through the changes like we need. But, when there are stressors in the workplace, I wind up crying and that is unprofessional for me.
So the early immediate thoughtful emotion "DOUBT" protects people like me so we can better prepare ourselves for the internal emotional rollercoaster we are to embark and doing it helps us successfully navigate emotionally raw situation rather than feeling blindsided. We can contemplate the onslaught and attack.
Personally, I feel many women, especially women of African descent adapted this "doubt" response. Due to the years of anxious situations from slavery and beyond, the reason we do it is because we have to find some level of sanctity in our lives. Dispelling that tension energy that trauma and stressors, DOUBT is a viable option to exploit because it really is not that much thought to it. Over time, as one matures, doubt becomes physically damaging as that seen in a variety of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, hypertension, cancer, etc. that Black women are particularly a health disparity.
How do we dissipate doubt? BREATHE... (for my next blog)