Certainty Vs Doubt

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Certainty and doubt are two very different concepts that are both necessary tools for a person’s success. Certainty allows a person to achieve the impossible through a strong belief that something is real or can be done. Doubt allows a person to decipher what is true or possible, and opens an individual to different possibilities. When balanced, certainty and doubt provide confidence, critical thinking skills, and allow you to reach beyond your comfort zone.

A healthy balance of certainty and doubt will give the individual confidence about their beliefs and ideas. According to William Lyon Phelps, an American educator, journalist and professor, certainty gives a person the potential to do anything they put their mind to, even things that are thought to be impossible. Through certainty, confidence is provided, which will lead a person to success (The Power of Certainty, 2012). If an individual is certain about something that can be done, then they will have the confidence they need in order to accomplish it. For example, Bethany Hamilton, a professional surfer, lost her arm when she was thirteen during a shark attack. Despite losing her arm, Hamilton was certain that she would be able to surf again. After a lot of hard work and determination, Hamilton was able to surf again a month after the attack, and she even won first place in the Explorer Women’s Division of the NSSA National Championships (Jacques, 2017). However, before a person is fully certain about something, they have a sense of doubt about it. Doubt is the beginning of certainty. Doubt is needed in order for a person to decipher what they think is the true and can be done. Once the individual has doubted their opinions, beliefs, or abilities it will help them decide whether they can be certain or not. After doubting the topic, they will finally be certain about it, which will give them confidence. For example, right after the shark attack, Bethany Hamilton was worried and doubted she would ever be able to surf again. Hamilton says, “It's hard for me to describe the joy I felt after I stood up and rode a wave in for the first time after the attack. I was incredibly thankful and happy inside. The tiny bit of doubt that would sometimes tell me you'll never surf again was gone in one wave.” (Surfertoday, n.d.) Hamilton’s doubt of never surfing again diminished after she proved to herself that she could, and the confidence she gained led her to win many championships and become one of the most inspirational athletes in the world.

Critical thinking skills are provided through a healthy balance of certainty and doubt. Doubt acts as a reminder that almost everything can be challenged or proved wrong. Before you can be truly certain about something, you need to have a sense of doubt which allows you to think critically about situations in order to determine what is true or possible. The critical thinking that comes from doubt, will allow the individual to explore the topic and ask questions about it in order to see if it is true (Nelson, 2014). For example, in the novel, The Lord of the Flies (Golding, 1954), Ralph doubts his ability to be the leader of all the boys. After thinking critically about his leading abilities, it allowed Ralph to figure out the basic things of what the boys needed to do in order to survive on the island. Once Ralph thought things through, he was a little more certain about being leader, but he couldn’t have done it without thinking critically about the situation. Therefore, thinking critically about a thing or idea helps to lead the individual to decide whether they can be certain or not.

A good balance of certainty and doubt allow a person to reach beyond their comfort zone. Too much doubt will hinder the individual from new experiences. If a person doubts their abilities, then they won’t be able to do anything. Too much certainty can hold the individual back from exploring new possibilities. Therefore, a healthy balance of these concepts is needed in order for a person to reach beyond what they are comfortable with. For example, my brother is terrified of heights. He had never been on a roller coaster before because he always told himself he couldn’t do it and was too afraid, even though he had never tried it. This past summer, my family and I went to Busch Gardens, and my younger brother watched as my family and I went on each of the roller coasters. Because he watched us go on them, he began to doubt the idea that he would hate it and became more open to try one. By the end of the day, he ended up going on all the rides in the park because he felt so confident and actually ended up loving roller coasters. If he hadn’t taken this leap then he wouldn’t have experienced one of the things that he enjoys the most.

In conclusion, after a person doubts a belief or idea and becomes certain about it then they will gain confidence, thinking critically about something helps lead the individual to certainty, and certainty allows a person to push their boundaries. Therefore, when balanced, certainty and doubt provide confidence, critical thinking skills, and allow you to reach beyond your comfort zone. 

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Certainty Vs Doubt. (2021, Jun 28). Retrieved June 23, 2024 , from

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