A Powerful, Paradoxical Key to Confidence

pexels-photo-901971 by Godisable Jacob.jpeg

Recently, in response to some of my thoughts on how I grew to be more confident, a friend commented on her desire to overcome some of her personal insecurities. “I have such a long way to go!” she lamented.

Our exchange got me thinking about how we actually develop confidence, and I noticed a paradox: in order to gain confidence, we often have to engage in activities in which we don’t yet feel confident. Things like traveling to new places, pursuing dreams or goals, and confronting problems.

These noble efforts, when navigated successfully, have the potential to build our confidence immensely. But they also typically represent unfamiliar territory, and, at the outset, may trigger uncertainty, doubt, and fear. To build confidence, we must act despite our misgivings.

And doing this requires courage.

Courage, a Key to Confidence

I’ve become fascinated with the relationship between confidence and courage. The two build on each other like the steps of a stair case.

Each step up requires courage—a willingness to risk, to step away from the security of solid ground. With each completed step, we develop confidence: I took a risk and I succeeded! I can do this!

That confidence, in turn, provides the firm foundation to courageously launch ourselves even further.

Every time we land on a step we have a decision to make. Do I want to stay on this step, where I feel well-equipped, balanced, and comfortable? Do I want to remain at this level of confidence, or do I want to go higher?

If I want to go higher, I’ll have to once again leave the comfort of my  plateau and muster the courage to step farther than I have been before—to try new things, meet new people, create new work or share my art—and face my fears.

For my writing, it has looked something like this: journal entries and school papers led me to step up to writing articles and blog posts, which in turn are bringing me closer to ebooks and books (my ultimate goal). Each step forward has brought a new challenge, a new need for courage; each step accomplished has brought a new level of confidence.

Keep Moving Forward, Step by Courageous Step

Confidence isn’t something that we have or don’t have. I think it’s something we have in varying degrees, and it grows over time as we repeat this process of stepping out with courage over and over again.

Perhaps, for those who seek personal growth and cherish big dreams, the stair step of courage-confidence is a natural rhythm that we need to befriend.  

Yes, acting with courage can be emotionally painful, but discomfort of this kind can actually be a positive sign that we’re stretching ourselves, growing, and reaching new levels of maturity. 

Giving myself permission to feel uncertain or not fully confident takes away some of the fear and shame around those feelings. Seeing discomfort as a sign that I am welcoming growth can actually encourage me to keep moving forward.

I want to celebrate my wins and cherish each new level of confidence I attain, but I also want to keep forging ahead with courage. Step by step, progressing toward my big goals, dreams, and purpose.

Like my friend, I feel like I have a long way to go!

But looking back, I see how far up the staircase I have already come. And that does a lot to reassure me that, with God, I will eventually make it to the top.

What are some areas that you've had to exercise courage? How have you seen your confidence grow? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!


“This is my command--be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (NLT)


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Photo by Godisable Jacob from Pexels