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Fear of Mingling

How to Build Self-Confidence in Two Easy Steps

By Bull Garlington

Before you go one more sentence into this article, I want to be clear with you: Building self-confidence takes time. What I offer below is a two-step process that answers how to build self-confidence. You can’t do this in a day. And honestly, you might feel dissatisfied and want to give up. But keep it up and this will be the most rewarding work you’ll ever do.

building self-confidence

How to Build Self-Confidence

The reward for sticking with this process is that you will understand yourself better than you ever have. And you will have the answer to one of life’s most perplexing and nagging questions: Why are you here?

Step 1: Know What You’re Good At

Confidence isn’t bravado. It’s not a front. Real confidence rests on truth.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Duration: 1 minute to several years

Knowing what you are good at is the foundation for an immediate boost of confidence. For example, if you know you are a very good case manager, then when confronted with a case in need of management, you will have the confidence to take it on. You may not realize that what’s happening is actual confidence. It may seem like you’re just doing your job, as always. But that is exactly what confidence is: Knowing you can handle it. You know what you’re good at.

I don’t mean merely that you’re a gifted case manager. That’s important, sure, and you can build a career out of it. But true confidence requires asking yourself why you are a gifted case manager. What is it you do that other case managers don’t? More importantly, in what way do you envision your workflow that less capable case managers do not see?

What you’re looking for is not just the thing you excel at, but to understand why you excel.

As you accept more often that you are confident at managing a job, you can start looking underneath that confidence at the faculties that support your talent. They may be, but are certainly not limited to:

  • How you communicate.
  • How you support your team.
  • An ability to see your job in a unique way.
  • A fascination for detail.

When you know what you are good at, it’s much easier to deal with confidence-killers — self-doubt, imposter syndrome, the negative voices in your head.

Step 2: Know Why You’re Here

This sounds like the very worst new-age crapola. You might be wondering how the [curse word] is this actionable! How does this apply to my immediate situation? Will it teach me how to build self-confidence? Allow me to disappoint you further and admit I don’t know. But it is the second half of this two-step process of building confidence.

Skill Level: All of them

Duration: Probably your entire life

As you uncover previously unlisted faculties and talents that make up your performance, you may reach a point where the next thing you need to learn is why you have these talents. Without diving too deeply into cosmology or determinism, by simply examining your innate traits, you may come to a conclusion about yourself that seems to indicate a fundamental purpose.

I did. Last year, I interviewed a novelist I admire who challenged me by asking, what is your purpose as a writer? “To tell a great story.” No. “To entertain and teach the reader.” No. “To build a fascinating world.” No. He rejected my answers one after another.

Finally, I asked him what the hell was my purpose? He said he couldn’t tell me, “but you need to find out, otherwise you’ll never be the writer you ought to be.”

It was a painful kick in the ass — and I had no answer.

Over the next year, I came back to this question again and again.

Finally, while I was in the middle of a wandering sabbatical, just sitting on a couch not doing anything, not asking that question, it popped into my head. No warning, no philosophizing, no effort. It just showed up in 10-foot-tall letters in my mind — my true purpose as a writer.

And it changed my life. My confidence now comes from a truly different place than before. I write now with a solid, enduring understanding of why I’m here, why I’m pounding the letters on my keyboard hard enough to shatter, why I’m up in the morning ready to write and why I’m still at it after midnight, writing longhand in my journal. Because I answered this question, every action in my job is suffused with a quiet, unhurried, deep and abiding confidence.

Follow these steps on how to build self-confidence and yours will be too.

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BULL Garlington Bull Garlington

Analog Attorney columnist Bull Garlington is an award-winning author, columnist and public speaker. He is the author of the books “Fat in Paris,” “The Full English,” “Death by Children” and “The Beat Cop’s Guide.” He prefers South American literature, classic jazz, Partagas 1945s, a decent Laphroaig, and makes a mean chicken and andouille gumbo. Follow him @bull_garlington.

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