Dear Christian Counselor,
How do we gain confidence?
Bob Wiley (pseudonym)
The short answer is: step by step. Confidence is the result of small victories strung together until you believe you can overcome the next challenge. It can be built into us as children, it can even come as the result of one great triumph, but in most cases it is grown gradually over time by doing the things we fear and seeing God’s faithfulness in our weakness.
This is a project you can intentionally undertake. Start by finishing this sentence: “I would like to have confidence that I ____________________.” Next, make a list of five to ten smaller steps leading up to that goal. For example, if you want to have confidence that you can be a marine biologist, you might start by reading a book about fish or by keeping a goldfish in a bowl. (“Baby steps, Bob.”)
The second piece of the puzzle is developing good coping mechanisms to help you along the way. It’s not about getting rid of your fear first; it’s about doing life despite your fear. What are the healthy things which renew your spirit and courage both before and after you take on the next challenge? Think along the lines of phoning a friend, taking a hot bath, using properly prescribed medication, listening to music, deep-breathing, or spending time in prayer. I usually ask my clients to make a list of ten good things which comfort, restore or inspire them. Then as you start to mount the steps on your “confidence ladder,” use your healthy coping skills to combat the natural setbacks or fears you are trying to overcome. I would strongly advise enlisting the support and prayer of a good friend on this journey. May God give you the vision and the courage to become everything He has dreamed for you.
So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6)