Note: This is a post by, Angie Dixon. Angie is the author of The Leonardo Trait, she helps creative people live out lives they love. Check out Angie’s creativity quiz at www.leonardotrait.com
I used to tell people that I’m the most insecure person I know; I just hide it well. One day my best friend called me on my insecurity. That’s a best friend’s job, of course, and she did it with two powerful sentences.
“I’m insecure also, but I know the one thing I never feel insecure about is my teaching ability. The one thing you should never feel insecure about is your writing.”
Those words were like a kick in the brain. I suddenly went from the scared mouse to the lion roaring in the jungle. I had found the confidence I needed and never knew I had. I’d like to show you how to find that confidence for yourself.
Everyone Is Insecure
The first thing you need to know about confidence is that everyone struggles with it. Everyone is insecure, except psychopaths and sociopaths. I guess you can take heart in the fact that your insecurity proves you’re neither of those. Not much heart, maybe, but it is something.
Please hear me when I say this again. Everyone is insecure. Some simply hide it better. Some people are truly more confident than others. But everyone is insecure.
I’m not asking you to drop all of your insecurities and suddenly be as confident as Batman, or even as confident as Superman. I am, though, going to ask you to let go of your insecurity about one thing. I’ll refer to that one thing as The One Thing, because I like capital letters.
Insecurity Hurts Your Writing and It Hurts Your Life
I suffered from paralyzing insecurity for years before I realized that it damaged the people and the things I cared most about. Once I realized that, and why it was true, I gained the ability to act just a little more confident than I felt until I could feel more confident.
I’m not sure how or when I realized the extent to which my insecurity was hurting the people and things I love. I know that one day I realized I could be doing a lot more with my writing and helping a lot more people if I felt more confident in my writing. Another day I looked up from writing for about a penny a word and realized that my thinking small wasn’t serving my family.
Gradually but irrevocably I began to realize that not being confident in my writing kept me from being the writer I was meant to be. This kept me from serving the world at large and my world the way I was meant to.
So I set out to do what my best friend suggested. It was actually probably closer to an order, but let’s go with suggestion because she might read this. I decided to be more confident about my writing.
The first thing I did was to start acting more confident about my writing, and that’s what I’m suggesting you do.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Fake it til you make it.” When I first heard that term, I hated it. It felt phony. But a friend of mine said, “If you pretend that you are more confident and more secure than you feel, you will start to feel more confident.” I expressed skepticism and she said, “Angie, I’m not asking you to believe it. I’m just asking you to believe that I believe it, and that I would never intentionally hurt you.” She said it in a sweet, soft Georgia drawl, so I pretty much had to do what she asked.
So I’m not asking you to believe that acting confident will make you more confident. I’m just asking you to believe that I believe it, and that I would never intentionally hurt you. I don’t have a Georgia drawl, but I live in Arkansas, so imagine that I have a sweet, smooth drawl, if that helps.
The Root of Insecurity
By the “root” I’m not so much talking about what causes insecurity, as where it lives. You probably think insecurity is a product of the brain. Technically it is. But for me, insecurity lives in the solar plexus.
It’s that feeling I get when I step up or step out and suddenly I look around and everyone is smarter, better looking, better educated, better read, better dressed, better earning and just better than I am.
That feeling is false. My solar plexus judges my insides by somebody else’s outsides, and I bet yours does, too. In fact, if we were in the same room, we’d probably look at each other as being in that “better” category. And that can’t be true, so our solar plexi (plexi?) must be sending us incorrect signals.
The One Thing
I’ve been talking as if the One Thing in your life that you must be confident about is your writing. Since you’re here at The Positive Writer, I assume that you should be confident about your writing.
You know better than I do, however. If your One Thing is something else other than writing, that’s fine. That’s great. Just apply what I’ve said to your One Thing.
Why You MUST Be Confident About Your One Thing
While I don’t think of myself as a religious person, I am a person of a certain kind of faith, and I believe that my writing talent is a gift. I didn’t earn it. I’ve developed my skills;. I think I’ve been a good steward of the gift. But I do see it as a gift. I think anyone, religious or not, can view their One Thing as a gift—from the universe, if nothing else.
As a person with a gift, I feel I have to be confident about that gift. I didn’t create it and I can’t do anything to change it. I’m a steward. I feel I owe it to the gifter to be proud and confident of the gift I’ve been given. Again, for me that gift is writing, though for you it may be something else.
The One Thing you should never feel insecure about is your writing.
Click to tweet if your One Thing is writing.
How to Do Confident Until You Can Be Confident
There’s a great line in one of Dean Koontz’ Christopher Snow books. Chris’s best friend Bobby says, “You’re doing cool. You’re not being cool.” He means that Chris is acting as if everything is fine and great, but it’s clear that he doesn’t believe everything is fine and great.
I’m asking you to do confident, to act confident about your One Thing, until you can be confident about it.
Here are three ways to do confident while you build up your actual confidence:
- Accept compliments. If someone gives you a compliment about your One Thing, say thank you. Don’t explain why it’s not really that great. Don’t say “Thank you, but….” Just say thank you, and then stop talking.
- Show your work to people who love you and let them love your work. I’m cautious about showing my work-in-progress, and you probably are as well. That’s not what I’m suggesting. I am suggesting that you show finished pieces of work to people you trust and who will appreciate them, and allow them to praise your work. Get used to being praised.
- Stick your neck out—just a little bit. If your One Thing is writing, send a piece out for publication. Write a guest post for a blog. Enter a writing contest. Do one small thing that takes more confidence than you feel you have. It doesn’t matter if your piece is published or wins the contest. It only matters that you do it.
I have a small confession to make, after focusing on confidence about your One Thing. If you take action to act and feel more confident about your One Thing, something else will happen, gradually and over time. You’ll find yourself more confident in every area. But that’s a bonus, not the grand prize.
What One Thing are you currently working on? Share with us in the comments, describe it or share a link, or both.