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Made Vibrant

The Hidden Key To Cultivating Confidence

Caroline ZookCaroline Zook Caroline ZookCaroline Zook

Written by

Caroline Zook

The Hidden Key To Cultivating Confidence

We all want more confidence in one way or another.

Whether you want the confidence to make and share your art, to build your business by selling your services or growing an audience, to negotiate for more money, to feel good in your own skin, to speak to a large group of people, or take a big risk… we all have a hunger to feel capable and safe from rejection. That’s what confidence does for you.

But where does it come from? And how do we get more of it? Well, that’s what I want to explore inside Color Your Soul, but today I want to share one tiny nugget that has helped me approach projects and risks in my own life with a bit more confidence.

Flashback to when I was 22, fresh out of college by just six months, and I was having a serious conversation with my mom. Right after graduation, I’d broken up with my husband of a year to start dating Jason (scandalous, I know), and we had been navigating the fun but uncertain waters of a new relationship while doing the long distance thing — him back in Jacksonville, and me in Durham, North Carolina.

Things were going well with us but not so great with my new job. In short, I hated it. After just six months at an esteemed advertising agency, I decided I couldn’t stand one more day in a job that didn’t utilize my creativity, and so I quit.

The serious conversation with my mom was about my big decision to quit my job and move back to Jacksonville, to MOVE IN with Jason. I remember the look of fear and worry on my mom’s face for me. Wasn’t this all a bit sudden and was I sure I wanted to do this and what would happen if Jason and I didn’t work out.

There are so many things I was NOT confident about back then but I will never forget the unshakable certainty that I felt about that decision to move back to Jacksonville and start a life with Jason.

I was nervous, but I was confident I was making the right decision. HOW?

So many times I’ve asked myself where that unexpected assurance came from in an attempt to unlock some hidden secret about this mysterious thing called confidence.

Was it because I knew Jason and I would work out? Heck no, I had no idea. Was it because I was too naive to think of all that could go wrong? Maybe, but I’d been in other serious relationships and it’s not like I thought they were always sunshine and rainbows.

Upon looking at it further, I realized that the reason I was so confident about my decision was this:

I knew that if it didn’t work out, it would be painful, but ultimately I’d be okay.

I think this knowing — this belief that YOU can be your own protector — is the hidden key to cultivating confidence.

Imagine any big (or little) risk in life as though it were an image of you jumping off a cliff into a beautiful, but shockingly cold, lagoon of water below. That’s what a risk feels like, right — tempting, but scary because you don’t know what will happen when you hit the water, you don’t know what it will feel like when you take flight off the cliff. That’s when you start to think maybe it would all feel much more comfortable and easy to stay on that ledge forever.

Oftentimes when we think of confidence, we focus on the feeling at the top of the cliff, that moment of courage that we need to work up in order to actually leap. That moment is where confidence ends up, but I don’t think that’s where it comes from.

I think confidence actually lives at the bottom of the cliff in the lagoon.

Confidence resides in the belief that we’ll be okay regardless of what is on the other side of uncertainty.

“Confidence resides in the belief that we’ll be okay regardless of what is on the other side of uncertainty.”

It is the voice that tells us that we can take the risk, we can leap off the cliff, because despite not knowing what waits for us below, there is always a safety net. That safety net is YOU.

When I was just starting my design business back in 2014, one thing I struggled with the most was sending out proposals. This is where I basically had to declare what I think I’m worth as a designer. I would write and rewrite the final project estimate 20 different times because I lacked the confidence to tell someone exactly how much I deserved to be paid. I would fixate on that moment when my potential client would open up the email and look at the price tag, and I agonized over what their reaction would be. Would they think I was arrogant and way overpriced? Would they think I was an amateur and way underpriced?

I struggled with this for months until Jason finally gave me some powerful advice: Don’t focus on the moment when they open the proposal; focus on the moment when they email you back with a no.

As you write that final project total on your proposal, he said, ask yourself: If they say no, will I feel good about the value I’ve placed on my work?

What? Seems like strange advice doesn’t it. Focus on the rejection in order to build your confidence?

What it did for me though is it allowed me to confront my fear of rejection head on and confirm that even if that potential client said no, I wouldn’t fall apart. It put me back in control of my own worth.

And THAT is the key.

When you know that you have your own back no matter what, that’s when you can confidently move forward, even if you’re afraid or unsure.

We all have the tools within us to provide this kind of comfort and protection for ourselves. But in order to use those tools, we have to acknowledge our our power.

We have to take back ownership of ourselves from all the places we’ve divvied it out to — to our families, to our relationships, to our social media followers, to near strangers on the other end of a proposal email. We place the delicate matter of our own self-worth in their hands, which leaves us feeling incapable and vulnerable to feelings of rejection.

But once you finally make that shift and decide you are the ultimate judge of your own worth — that you have the ultimate say in who you are and who you become — that’s when you carry the confidence of a person with a built-in superhero at their side.

Confidence isn’t just about acting in spite of your fears; it’s trusting you’ll put yourself back together if those fears come true.

Here’s a sketchbook piece I created inside this month’s Confidence issue.

 The Hidden Key To Cultivating Confidence / via Made Vibrant

It is my own reminder that I can be my own safety net. I can cultivate enough trust with myself to know that even if I take a risk and it doesn’t work out, I won’t allow a momentary feeling of failure or rejection stop me from moving forward.

My confidence lives in the knowing that I will never abandon myself.

I hope yours does to.

Your challenge this week is to choose one area of your life in which you’d like to feel more confident.

I want you to write down all the fears that affect your confidence in that area. Then I want you to respond to each fear with how your inner self-worth superhero will take care of you if those fears are realized.

I believe that actually confronting your fears head-on and reminding yourself that you will be okay regardless of if those fears come true or not will help you move forward more confidently in reality.

I have so many more thoughts on this topic I want to share with you guys, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

Thanks so much for reading! Wishing you an empowered week!

The Hidden Key To Cultivating Confidence

(Big Fat Takeaway)


This article written by

Caroline Zook

She/Her | Artist, designer + writer passionate about helping soulful creatives grow into their brightest selves. Lover of bright colors + even brighter people! One half of the crazy duo running these parts!

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