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  • Writer's pictureA. Mitchell


Imprisoned Possibilities


Doubt is our worst enemy. Everyone carries around some degree of doubt, whether they know it or not. It takes the smallest amount of doubt to completely shutdown something we are doing. Our task becomes littered with roadblocks. Everything becomes this big issue that takes forever to sort through.

Doubt is the great saboteur of life.

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From the perspective of Oneness, doubt has two branches: a lack of trust in our personal abilities and a lack of trust in the abilities of the Oneness. Throughout life we have learned to distrust our self and Oneness. This has happened because we believe we are separate and doing everything ourselves. Ugly things can happen from this belief and our distrust will grow from this.

Those that have grown up in oppressed societies or endured abuse, have more doubt than they realize. When we attempt to oppress or take advantage of someone, it is because we have doubt in our self. We assure someone else fails before we ourselves do. We take advantage of someone to avoid the harsh sting of failing. Oppression is about killing the competition. If we sabotage others, we assure that they will not be able to oppress us. The oppressor does first what they fear will be done to them. An oppressor’s (abuser’s) sabotage is an attempt to transfer their doubt onto the oppressed. The oppressor is not facing their doubt to learn and heal. Instead, they are sabotaging another person to create evidence that the other person should be doubted, not them.

Oppressive and abusive behavior is a childish attempt to get out of trouble.

Oppression and abuse are actions motivated by fear. Actions motivated by fear create division, chaos, and hurtful nonsense. Oppression does not resolve our doubt but instead empowers more doubt within us and in those around us.

For those that have been oppressed or abused, they likely have doubt they are carrying that they don’t realize is not theirs. They take a look around at their life and they see the lack of success. They have the physical evidence to prove their doubt has some substantiality. They believe in their doubt. However, this physical evidence belongs to someone else. This physical evidence is the result of the actions of the oppressor or abuser. This is the results of their doubt.

Often times the abused self-sabotages to avoid the abusers abuse. Success feels uncomfortable to the abused because more abuse is usually anticipated with their success.

The oppressed and abused hang on to their doubt because they believe it is theirs. However, they cannot heal this doubt. They may learn from it but they cannot heal it. We cannot heal what is someone else’s responsibility.

The abuser tries to transfer their doubt onto someone else. This can create a temporary sense of relief for the abuser. Typically, the abuser’s abuse becomes more and more consistent to maintain a sense of temporary relief from their doubt. This in turn only increase the volume of division, chaos, and hurt in their life. In return, they feel compelled to intensify their oppression and abuse creating a continuous vicious cycle of abuse.

It does come to an end when the abuser dies. However, anyone still impacted by the abuse and oppression of the deceased can still carry their doubt. Since they can’t heal it, they in turn can sometimes become the abuser and fall into the same vicious cycle.

Doubt is passed down through the generations.

The oppressed have the burden of deciphering what is their doubt and what is someone else’s. They also have the burden of healing from the abuse. So too, the oppressor has the burden of sorting out which is their doubt and which is someone else’s. However, they have to somehow come to terms with how brutally horrendous and ugly they have been to many people. They will need forgiveness to heal. Forgiveness may not be available. They may need to make amends before forgiveness is offered. Restitution may be steep.

Both journeys have their own challenges. There is so much division, chaos, and nonsense generated from oppression and abuse that trying to make sense of it, is long and arduous. We will eventually get to the realization, this is nonsense and you can’t make sense out of nonsense.

Bao is a third generation Chinese American in his mid 60’s from Iowa. He was trying to enjoy retirement life but found himself surprised that he was procrastinating about nearly everything. He was always accused of being a procrastinator but he didn’t believe this was true. He was a busy man and worked long hours. He associated his procrastination with simply not having enough time to get things done.

After retirement, Bao couldn’t understand why he struggled to now get things done around the house. Bao never had trouble getting things done at work. But always had trouble with getting things done at home. With retirement, he was confused as to why he still struggled to get things done around the house.

Bao began to wonder if in fact he was a procrastinator, perhaps he was lazy, perhaps he wasn’t all that good of a worker, maybe he wasn’t all that good of a person. His internal voice began to wander and veer towards a very negative and poor self-identity. Unconsciously, Bao began to act like this negative person that he was assuming was actually him. This was just a character flaw he couldn't do anything about.

Bao was pretty hard on himself and every time he looked at a pile from one of his unfinished projects, he criticized himself ruthlessly and relentlessly. Every time he set out to get something done, he criticized himself the whole time. ‘You’ll never get this done.’ ‘You’ll get some done but then it will take months before you get up off you lazy ass to finish it.’ ‘When are you going to start exercising by the way? You are fat.’ Really, this is pretty tame for Bao. He speaks far more ruthlessly to himself. But even a constant stream of this kind of self-talk would carry a debilitating impact on anyone’s life.

Bao’s friend shared with him a spiritual technique he learned to process difficult emotions. Bao took this technique and applied it to his painful feelings. The feelings passed quickly and gently. After they passed, he noticed his perspective shifted dramatically. Without thought, he walked into the first unfinished project and finished it with joy, peace, and efficiency. He was surprised for a moment but then jumped into the next project and finished it in ten minutes. He spent one day and finished nearly 8 projects that had been sitting there for months. One of them had sat there for two years.

Bao felt his emotions around doubt, learned from them, and healed them. One of the things Bao learned was from childhood. His father was psychologically abusive because he doubted his own ability as a father. As a result, he would create winless situations for Bao. If Bao was quick and efficient with his chores, his father criticized him for how he did it. If Bao did everything perfectly, his father would make something up to criticize him about. If Bao let something sit too long, his father punished him and called him lazy, fat, and disrespectful. Bao had been going through this since he was three.

Bao’s self-criticism was the emotions he struggled to feel from his father’s criticisms. No matter what Bao did, he was criticized. The constant stream of procrastination and negative self-talk comes from what Bao learned from his father.

Because Bao never learned and healed from this long-term abuse, the situation repeated, even though Bao’s father passed away long ago. Bao’s negative self-talk was so disempowering that he usually failed at everything he did on his own. The project was left unfinished. If he finished a project, Bao habitually anticipated some ruthless criticism. It was when his father criticized him at this point, that he found it most hurtful. As a result, Bao found it slightly better to leave a project unfinished and be called lazy and fat. It wasn’t great but it hurt less than being criticized for something he put a lot of effort and careful consideration into.

Procrastination was Bao’s way of protecting himself from his psychologically abusive father. No longer burdened with the belief that Bao is fat and lazy nor the painful emotions from the abuse, Bao was free to live his life as he chooses. Some projects sat until he had time to get to them and some were finished after he started them. The negative self-talk vanished without effort. He found himself looking more positively and creatively at his projects.

His whole life seemed brighter and took on more of an optimistic feel.

Doubt stopped Bao because he believed he was fat, lazy, and inept. His father wanted him to believe this because he doubted himself. From the perspective of Oneness, Bao’s father was imposing his doubt onto his son. The father was afraid that his son would exceed him and no longer need him. The father doubted his own abilities and didn’t want his son’s abilities to supersede his. So, the father managed his uncomfortable feelings around his doubt by creating winless situations for his son. This way his son’s doubt grew and his father sustained his sense of superiority. This is a form of psychological abuse. Keep in mind, much of this was often unconscious for the father.

Doubt can show up in numerous ways in our life. Often our negative self-talk can point to the doubt we carry, particularly in moments when the negative self-talk amps up. Much of our doubt has been imposed on us from our parents, teachers, or anyone we gave authority to. It is up to us and only us, to address our personal doubt so we don’t unconsciously pass it on to someone else.

Oppressed or colonized communities and cultures are enduring enormous amounts of doubt being imposed on them from their colonizer. Healing doubt means freedom from their doubt. Learning from this experience means freedom from their mental prison of doubt. So much empowerment comes from this that freedom is achieved even under an oppressive government. It can be achieved while literally sitting in prison.

The mental prison we create comes from our beliefs about life. Our beliefs were taught to us by our caregivers and teachers in life. We learned about this prison of ‘do this’ and ‘don’t do that’ growing up. These beliefs of ‘this is what we do’ and ‘this is what we don’t do,’ create a mental prison. They harbor and sustain doubt. It is not that these do's and don't's are wrong or right but they may not always be right or always be wrong.

Some of this doubt is so certain that we considered it fact. Maybe we even consider it scientific fact.

What is possible, is only confined by the limitations of what we believe is possible. Anything is possible through Oneness. It can only be limited by our doubt. The only way to free ourselves of doubt is to face it, feel it, and learn from it. It is at this point that the impossible can become possible. Bao thought his procrastination was just who he was. This is what he believed was possible. And so, this is what he continually experienced in life.

We’re not talking about a magical rainbow world of only our favorite things. These favorite things may not be someone else’s favorite things so it lacks Oneness. Since we are One and we are in this together, we must somehow find a way to accept everyone and everything. In this acceptance we will find our life purpose and be able to walk a path of integrity that will feel effortless. Possibilities are no longer imprisoned by doubt. The solutions for these possibilities come easy.


*Names, places, and gender have been altered to respect, protect identity, and confidentiality.


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