Below is the transcript for the call on doubt vs. certainty.
Doubt or certainty, which do you want?
Dr. Alex Loyd: Thank you, JoHanna, and thank you everyone for being here, whether you’re live or listening by recording. We’re so honored by your presence. Every week we try to give you a little something to think about during the week, a little something to challenge you during the week, and a little something to apply to your life practically to make that week a little better and every once in a while maybe your life a little better long term. Please give us your feedback. We really love that, even if it is negative we love it. Let us know how we’re doing, any ideas you have of how we can improve, I promise, we will absolutely take them seriously.
This weeks topic is – Doubt or certainty; which do you want? Ha, ha. Just think about that for a second. When you think about that phrase and let it wash over you outside and inside, what is your natural response that you have when you hear that? Doubt or certainty; which do you want?
In my experience with over 30 years in full-time ministry and counseling and therapy, in the business world which I grew up in (my dad was an entrepreneur, his dad was an entrepreneur, both my brothers are entrepreneurs), everybody wants certainty. When you hear that phrase, doubt or certainty, what comes to mind is certainty, right? Doubt sounds scary. Why is it scary? Because it means something painful might happen. Or, if we reversed it and asked, do you want to certainly have pain? Or the doubt would be maybe you don’t have pain, then in that case you’ll take doubt. What naturally comes up and what we naturally tend to think is doubt opens the way for something that I may not like. If I can have certainty, even if I compromise and say this certainty is not what I would really most want, but I would rather have a lesser certainty than a doubt which opens the door to pain.
I totally get that. I lived my life up to about 27 and a half totally like that. I’m married to a former, recovered perfectionist. That’s the whole deal behind perfectionism – I want certainty, not doubt. I want pleasure, or at least nothing painful in my life. If I can arrange circumstances, even if I may have to manipulate circumstances to have a comfortable certainty, even if I could have more than that, but with the comfortable certainty I don’t have the risk of the bad things, then maybe I’ll even settle for something that is not what I really want if I can get away from the possibility of something negative.
Let me tell you, this way of living is an absolute quick sand. It’s a dead fall for people who understand bear hunting in Alaska. It is a hidden trap that can ruin your entire life. This is a big one for you to really marinate, meditate, pray about this week. Are you living your life trying to ensure certainty on things you can’t ensure certainty? If you are, that’s using a tremendous amount of energy that could better be used somewhere else. You are maybe missing, because of that philosophy of living your life, the greatest blessings that you could experience.
There’s a very popular quote from an ancient manuscript that says, “We walk by faith and not by sight.” Basically that means we’re not walking by certainty. We’re walking by belief which opens the door to something negative that could happen, but we are still walking. We’re not frozen. We’re not afraid, even though when it hits I might be afraid because it is a life or death deal. We walk by faith and not by sight. What is important about that?
Let’s dissect this for just a second. Belief is one of the most powerful things on planet Earth in human beings. There are basically three kinds of belief: nocebo, placebo and defacto. Most of us are familiar with placebo, which means believing something that is not true, but it is a positive belief – this sugar pill can make my headache go away. Based on studies over many decades, thousands of studies, the placebo effect for someone to experience something positive simply because of their belief, not because of any medicinal value in that sugar pill, is usually around 30%. That means about 30% of people will get a positive benefit from that even though there is nothing in the sugar pill to help. The effect is from the belief itself. The problem with that belief is that very often it is a lie. It’s not just a neutral belief. You are told this sugar pill is a miracle headache cure when it is not. That’s a lie. A lie detector is basically a stress test. That means lies believed increase our stress.
There is some debate about that, when it comes to believing a positive even if it is a lie, that if you really, truly believe it you can be in that 30% that actually has a positive effect. But, that leaves a 70% possibility that you’re going to have the negative effect because it is a lie and thus increases your stress. That’s a long bet if you are going on placebo. For years, those were so popular. “I believe that my cancer is already cured.” “I believe that the million dollars in one the way to me right now.” “I believe that the new mansion is going to be mine within two years.” Based on the very first double-blind study ever done on those kinds of affirmations at the University of Waterloo in Canada, for most people those affirmations make things worse not better. Why? Because it is a lie and it increases your stress.
Nocebo means you do not believe something that might be true and is possible. Why? “My immune system can keep me healthy.” Dr. Ben Johnson, who co-authored my first book, a medical doctor and cancer specialist, told of a client who said “I’m going to die at 40 years old.” Dr. Ben asked why. He said, “My father died at 40 years old and his father died at 40 years old, suddenly without long illness.” He was paranoid, always getting checkups, kind of a hypochondriac. “I’m feeling this. I think I might have this problem and you need to test it.” He never had any of them. He was completely healthy. Guess what? At 40, he dropped over dead. He did not believe that his body and mind could keep him healthy. So they didn’t and he died. His belief killed him, in other words.
Defacto means believing the reality, whether anyone else believes it, whether there is any evidence for it, believing the reality, the real truth no matter what. No other consideration except it is the truth. When you believe the truth, it opens the truth to outstanding if not miraculous results, in my opinion. Because you believe your immune system can heal anything and that you are going to die at 40 is a lie even though your dad and granddad did. I don’t believe that. I believe the truth that if my immune system is working the way it’s supposed to, and I’m going to do everything I can to try to help that, leave the rest to God and pray about it, my immune system can and will keep me healthy. Typically, that’s what happens.
I’m not saying pin everything on a belief, I’m just describing those parts of belief.
Most miraculous and outstanding results come through the door of belief. To be specific, in believing the reality, believing the truth.
Most problems come from believing something that is not true.
Certainty, that’s where we started – doubt or certainty; which do you want? Certainty means trying to impose a certain set of results in the future that you are not completely in control of. That’s why Dr. Dan Gilbert in his wonderful book, Stumbling into Happiness, said “Expectations are happiness killers.” Why? Because to try to control something in the future that you are not in control of spikes your stress and leads to everything you don’t want in your life. So, certainty equals expectation, which brings in all the stuff you don’t want in your life instead of the stuff you do.
Doubt is in the field of belief. Sure, I believe I’m going to live to see tomorrow, but I do have some doubt. Lots of things could happen. The world could end. A giant meteor. Someone could break in and kill me. If I’m living with some degree of doubt but a much greater degree of belief in reality and a belief that I need to live my life in love in the present moment doing my best to do that and then leaving the rest to God, now I’m not in the expectation business, but I’m doing the best I can in the present, focusing in the present and giving the rest up to God, to love, etc., for whatever is best for me.
Certainty is focused in the future, not the present.
We want certainty because we want a certain result and because we don’t want another result. That basically boils down to our 0 to 7-8 hardwiring we come into this world with to seek pleasure and avoid pain. That’s why we want certainty. That’s why we don’t want doubt or to hang it on a truthful belief. We want to use our willpower to make a certain happen and to keep another certain outcome from happening.
I’m not saying don’t do that. Sure, do your best, always, but realize you can’t control the outcome of all your circumstances and be at peace with that. Give it up to God and to love.
Trying to ensure a certain result, feeling like I won’t be okay if I don’t have all these pleasurable results and won’t be okay if I have painful results, that is lust, not love. It comes from fear. Doubt can absolutely lead to faith and believing the truth. That is giving up the “I want, I want, I want” and the end results, and allows love to start being what is in control. Trusting God and trusting love for the absolute best outcome for myself. If I am hell bent on certainty, having to have this and not wanting that, then I am dooming myself to a life of fear, when the only thing that will truly satisfy me and fulfill me is love, which does not come from certainty, but comes from belief.
Certainty means you don’t need belief. It basically means no belief. I don’t want to have to pin it on belief and hope and faith and trust, I want it certainly. I’m going to drive myself and everyone else crazy trying to control, often times, what is uncontrollable, instead of doing my best and leaving the end result to God and love.
These are two almost diametrically opposed, 180-degree opposed ways of living your life. One will produce happiness, health, the perfect success for you, etc. One will produce anger, frustration, all the negative health things that come from stress and usually disappointment after disappointment after disappointment.
Where are you today? That’s what I challenge you to think about. Are you trying your best to live a life of certainty, or trying to live a life of faith, hope, trust, believing in what is real and true that the best life for me is love in the present moment as best I can, working as hard as I can, but leaving the end results, whether painful or pleasurable, to God and to love.
I challenge you, if you’ve never tried living the belief way, the love way, the truth way, the present-moment way, not the certainty but the other way, I dare you to try it for about six weeks. See if it does not radically transform your life and very likely, your health.
Have a wonderful, blessed day.