3 Questions to Ask In Times of Doubt

When I find myself in troubled times, I either turn into a panic freak, or surprisingly calm to the point of indifferent.

This time, it is neither.

I was perplexed and deeply troubled. I found myself searching for a meaning of what I’m doing – for doing the best I can think of, and yet keep getting negative vibes. I am always under the impression that, if we work hard, live decently, treat people with the right attitude – there shouldn’t be an issue enjoying life.

Apparently, that might not be the case this time. The unnecessary pressure, the high expectations that lead people to come to work trying to pass the day – not to enjoy the day, and the dread of seeing another day – such demoralized acts have a negative impact on one’s mental health, on one’s productivity, and especially, on one’s own life morale.


Looking back on how I dealt with the things-yet-to-come, I often think of the worst case scenarios, then worrying myself with all the what-ifs and it makes all my actions become subtly reluctant, less confident, less assured and less effective. So I’ve been trying to ask myself these three questions, whenever I see myself in doubts of the path I’ve been walking on.

“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere”

Erma Bombeck

Would I choose otherwise, if I knew it would be like this?

I’m not a fan of looking back and regretting my own choices, so most of the time I would say no – I would still choose to do it this way. Just like the boy in Mr. Nobody , standing on a station platform as a train is about to leave. Should he go with his mother or stay with his father? His whole life could be something very different because of his choice, but in reality, all the choices were made and it’s never been a useful thing to wishfully think back and hope we have choose otherwise. We only have what’s in the “now”. Here we are, even with all the mistakes, all the broken dreams and shattered hopes, we’ve got to work with what we have in the “now”, not in the past, it’s gone; nor the future, it hasn’t come yet.

The choices we make are the lessons we get to learn – creating by ourselves, not written in any syllabus or prescribed by any other but us, be the hard way or easy way. It’s quite tragic, since it means we have no one else to blame for our bad choices and unfavorable consequences. But it’s also a blessing, if through the path you’ve chosen, you find something valuable, something worth keeping, something you have been looking for and never thought you’d be lucky enough to have it. All coins have two sides, let’s choose to see things that happened to us like blessings in disguise, rather than curses at first sight.

Can I still take it?

Now this is where it becomes a little tougher to answer, at least to myself. I may, from time to time, hiding true feelings from others, but to myself, never once I lie. Be it good or bad, I own it.

The question has a further layer: is the incidence that important to make a scene out of it, or is the incidence worthy of getting the best of me? This is where things happen in a way that might directly affect me, shake me to my core belief and principles, to the point that I have to revalue my situation, reconsider my available, options then ponder on my next actions. This question can even be interpreted in another way: “How low can I go to fulfill my goals?”

I’m sure all of us will have to choose on whether do it or stop doing it – and the outcome always boils down to one thing – whether we can accept ourselves after deciding and acting upon or not. It will be best if we can have others’ insights on the situation and use an outsider’s viewpoint to better understand on the whole picture, to see whether it’s acceptable to keep on going, or just let it go. This is where one person may not be able to see things clear, so it’s totally fine to get advice from people we trust and understand us, so whatever decision we make, we don’t make it blindly and thoughtlessly, we do it with serious consideration of the big picture.

What other options do I have?

“There is a great difference between worry and concern. A worried person sees a problem, and a concerned person solves a problem.”

Harold Stephen

So here I am, seeing a big problem of moving elsewhere, or continue with the current situation. Now, I have been worried, a lot. I don’t even know where this worrying starts creeping inside my mind, messing with my enjoying little things in life and make me look like I’m planning a serious crime inside my head.

The options may not be a lot, nor very perfect and cannot immediately solve the troubling situation, but we still have other options. If depends on whether we are able to endure the duration of our choices until we finally get what we really want.

I would end this with a quote from Kafka on the Shore, perfectly depicted what most of us will have to face in any point of time:

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” 

― Haruki MurakamiKafka on the Shore


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