There is a poignant final scene in the 2008 film Doubt that can resonate with just about anybody. Meryl Streep’s character Sister Aloysius has finally managed to rid her school of the pastor who she suspected of having inappropriate relations with a young

Despite having no concrete evidence of the priest’s actions and in the face of protests of others who are sure of his innocence, she trusts her instincts, knowing for certain that he is guilty, and forces him to leave. In the final scene, Sister Aloysius is talking to her colleague about the priest when she eventually breaks down and utters the haunting last words of the film:

“I have doubts…..I have such doubts”. Even a confident and self- assured character was ultimately filled with doubt. What hope do the rest of us have?

While for the majority of us don’t have the doubts that Meryl Streep’s character had, it doesn’t mean they are any less significant.

Doubts are toxic-laden feelings that make us question our abilities, give us uncertainty and takes away our sureness. It can also cause hesitation before making important decisions. It doesn’t matter who you are, doubts can creep up when you least expect them to.

Psychologists have theorised that doubts and worry originates from bad childhood experiences that can make one question their abilities and their identity.

How many times have we not gone ahead with plans or held back in conversations all because we doubted ourselves? Hands up if you ever have these worries float through your mind:

I’m not going to speak up because maybe they will think my point is stupid.

Can I do this assignment?

I don’t think I will pass my exams.

Is this career for me?

Am I good enough?

Is this the right thing for me?

Some of these thoughts are rational: some are not. Regardless of how good a student you are or how hard you work, you are not immune from fear or worry.

Aaron, a business student in DIT, says that coming up to his exams or before receiving his results, he always questions his intelligence and panics over whether he has done enough to pass his modules.

“I don’t think I’ve failed anything in my life, yet every year when I do tests, I literally live in a state of panic about my ability to do well. I always feel as if I haven’t done enough or won’t know the answers to the questions. I have no idea why I feel this way: it’s not like I don’t study or put effort into classes. I’m always afraid I won’t pass. Even after I get my results and do well, it doesn’t help to ease my confidence for the next time”.

Doubt isn’t always a bad thing though. At times it can make you stop and think about things you want or things you don’t want.

Because you allow yourself to listen to your thoughts, you may save yourself from a bad relationship or starting a course/job you might not be happy in. It can help you to be more wary of ideas and people. Of course, it’s hard to know when to pay attention to our fears or when to throw them away.

How do we know if we are being rational or irrational? It’s a catch 22.  No matter what course we are in or what stage of our lives we are at: doubts are always present. It is hard to banish those demons. Can it be done?  

You just have to stop listening to that persistent negative voice that rears its head every time a difficult or challenging situation comes up.

Confidence is the key. Most people suffer with insecurity that inhibits their actions: they don’t believe they have the skill or quick-thinking to get ahead.

Some may even feel as if they are bluffing it; that they only got where they are by luck. To have any chance of silencing those feelings, you have to distance yourself from whatever bad experiences that happened in the past.

Whether you failed an exam or made a bad choice: forget about it. That was then, this is now. You have gotten where you are because you deserve to be there: you have worked hard and you have the ability.

Becoming aware of what you’re good at will also give you an added boost. Knowing what your strengths are will push you forward and allow you move out of the shadows. Nobody is an expert in the matter: who knows how to fully get rid of self-doubt.

It is all about knowing yourself and knowing what you are capable of. You can be Rafael Nadal serving for a Grand Slam title, or a nervous student about to do a presentation: both of you will feel a bit of doubt. Although it doesn’t take a genius to work out which one won’t let that doubt hold them back.