How to Find Confidence

(On the comic: Debbie Ridpath Ohi is a genius, as always.)

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Confidence is a Tricky Beast, Innit?

It’s like some kind of old-timey riddle: name a thing we all wish we had, yet hate when we see it in other people?

Yup, you guessed it: confidence.

Confidence can come across in different ways. We all know someone (an author, a friend, a family member, someone) who rubs us the wrong way because of the way they put themselves forward. Every conversation is about them. Every mealtime discussion is about them. Every joke, story, or adventure centers around how great they are.

That is ARROGANCE, not CONFIDENCE, and when we avoid confidence in order to avoid arrogance, we only harm ourselves.

That’s only one of the reasons we tend to lack confidence. Let’s list off a few more.

  • False Humility. Some of us come from a background that teaches self-deprecation is a virtue. It’s not. Just so you know. Even Jesus had no problem saying exactly who He was and what He did. The apostles did, as well, openly discussing their faults as well as the things they did well.
    Don’t be afraid of success. There’s no shame in doing something well.
  • False Guilt. This bad boy usually hearkens back to the way we were raised, as well. Do you feel guilty over things that shouldn’t matter? Things that aren’t, in fact, bad at all?I know people who feel guilty for success. I know people who feel guilty for having talent. I know people who feel guilty for having money, food, “privilege” (define THAT as you will), or even a working car. False guilt freezes you. It makes you unwilling to act, afraid to move, and convinces you to pull away from good things because you think you don’t deserve them. It gets in the way of things you SHOULD actually feel. You’ll never be able to accurately judge what you need to change in your life if you fill your conscience with imaginary crimes.
  • Fear of Failure. Here’s something you’ll hear me say often: we choose to fail. By “failure,” I don’t mean losing a contest, or losing a job, or messing something up. I mean quitting. Lying down. Giving up. THAT is failure. Anything else is just a speedbump, or a wrong turn. We all have them.
    The successful people are the ones who keep moving forward, which transforms “failure” into something that makes us stronger.
  • Fear of Others. Just how much should our opinions of ourselves rely on other people? This is a biggie. On one hand, we do need the opinions of others to give us an idea of what’s acceptable, what’s quality, and what’s moving. On the other hand, if we only listen to others on what’s acceptable, what’s quality, and what’s moving, we will never grow worth a damn.It’s a difficult balance to maintain, and the trick I’ve found to handle that balance is this: make sure you surround yourself with the right people. Some people are toxic – even people we love. Some people only harm us, hold us back, slow down our growth and our climb. We may love those people. We may think we need them.We don’t need them. People who help us become better are the ones we need – and it is ESSENTIAL that we seek those people out and make them our cadre.
    When those around you are the right people, they will tell you to follow your dream even if they don’t personally see your vision.

The Fix

Do not feel shame over the gifts you’ve been given.

If you can write, WRITE. If you can create, CREATE. If you can draw, DRAW.

Dance. Sing. Make people smile. Help out at work, help out your neighbors.

DO NOT FEAR. Did you know the most common command given in the Bible is “do not be afraid”? There’s a reason we need this. False humilty just as bad as arrogance – and in fact, does a lot more damage. At least arrogant people are willing to try.

Links From Around the Web

How to Ensure You’ll Do Anything, from Chris Guillebeau of “The Art of Non-Conformity.” “By removing the opportunities to defer, we create a path of forced success.” Definitely worth a read.

Overcoming Self Sabotage, by Orna Ross. “We can’t change behaviour rooted in negative, fear-based thinking by adding more negative and fear-based thinking about why you “shouldn’t” be doing it.”

The One Question We Never Ask Ourselves, from Jeff Goins. “Creativity is blue-collar work. It’s not magical or mystical. It may be a little spiritual, but at the end of the day, it’s about putting the hours in.” (If you read nothing else here, read that link. It will help you, guaranteed.)


A three-times bestselling author, Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and been the keynote speaker for the Write Practice Retreat. Author of two series with five books and fifty-plus short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom and used up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon in the process. When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away. P.S. Red is still her favorite color.