Doubt, like any emotion or response to an emotional state, has a purpose. I don’t doubt my decisions that led me to where I am now, but I am experiencing some self-doubt. But I have no doubt that this doubt will be useful! Irony much?
If you don’t doubt what you are doing, then you are not growing, not developing, not learning. Doubt exists right in the middle of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. The ZPD. The heart of my egg of doubt.
So, Vygotsky’s ZPD is about our learning comfort zones (see image below). The ZPD requires that the learner access properly scaffolded (staged) learning activities to make them more comfortable with the stuff they don’t know how to do. Then after a while the stuff they didn’t know becomes the stuff they do know.
But I think the ZPD exists in our emotional learning too. I think we can apply ZPD to the doubt we experience when making major life changes or trying something new.
This is something I have called “The Egg of Doubt”. Why an egg? Because doubt usually represents birth or growth, as does an egg. It’s important to note that I am applying this to change that we have chosen, not change that is inflicted upon us (although some of this would still apply).
I have renamed the ZPD to the WTF. Yes, the “Zone of What the Fuck”.
Because change makes us doubt and doubt makes us change. It is a contradiction of the most perplexing and, often, frustrating type.
Making Sense of “The Egg of Doubt”.
While making coffee this morning I collected some thoughts (as you do!) on how to make sense of this as follows:
- Do I want this change or challenge? If the answer is no, then re-evaluate the change. It might not need to be thrown out altogether either.
- Does this change bring me discomfort and is this real discomfort that is a threat or are we merely sitting in the “What the Fuck” zone? If it is discomfort that will cause you harm…go back to #1. Maybe the change does need to be thrown out altogether. Or change the change. It could just be that you are clinging to the familiar and you need to let go and be okay with the discomfort. It’s okay to not know what you don’t know.
- What do I need to do to in “What the Fuck” zone to ease the doubt and move to the new knowledge zone? This is where you make a list of things to do to make the journey more comfortable while still learning. This could be talking to the people around you about the change you are experiencing and getting support. Or practicing self-care. But it is important that’s not too big a list or composed of large tasks. Nurture the WTF zone. It’s there for a reason. It’s there to get you to the new knowledge that will eventually become the stuff you do without thinking much about it.
- And finally, but most importantly, give yourself time. Change takes time.
Again, as in #2 above:
It’s okay to not know what you don’t know.