Monthly: March 2012

The Myth Of Boosting Self-Confidence

Confidence is great. It makes us feel relaxed and in the zone. We can feel unstoppable, things seem easy and we feel a great sense of control.

Many people want more and I don’t blame them. However, confidence can be a bit hit and miss. It varies from person to person, place to place and situation to situation.

A lack of confidence and an abundance of frustration can lead one to feel quite down and deflated. So, how do we change this. How can CBT help improve self-confidence and put you back in control?
I would define confidence as one of many states of mind we can experience, the same as happiness, sadness, excitement, confusion and curiosity.

Many celebrities and life coaches quite forcefully point out that confidence issues are easy to fix, and it can be built from imagination exercises and motivational affirmations. The lady on BBC Breakfast last week was a typical example – simply focus on feeling better and doing things that motivate you and it will all come together eventually.

I can see where they are coming from but it seems too simplistic and misses the point somewhat. I’m sure it sells their CDs, books and DVDs but I do wonder how often they work with real people with real problems.

From working with people from all walks of life who wish to improve their levels of confidence and self-esteem, improving confidence can’t be solved by imagination and motivation alone.

Those who have difficulties raising and maintaining their levels of self-confidence are experiencing another problem. Confidence has an evil twin which needs to be dealt with – fear.

Fear is one of those necessary emotions which really can be a nuisance. It’s a very primal and hard-wired state of mind, which is there to protect us at all costs and keep us safe and out of trouble.

Fear can be useful – for many people who are regular public speakers a small amount of fear is essential. Many performers and comedians would not be as good as they are without it.
Fear is what gives them the buzz and adrenaline rush to get on stage or in front of the camera and spur them on to perform.

And what would be the point of an extreme sport or even a roller coaster without a slight element of fear – it’s the whole point!

Usually we have healthy respect for our fears, and they keep us safe and out of danger. But sometimes fear doesn’t work for us, rather than helping us, it hinders. Nothing can paralyse us and hold us back like fear.

So, I would ask you to consider that confidence is a fluid state of mind, specifically where there is a near complete lack of fear and anxiety within a given context or situation.

To build up confidence, we need to not only work on building motivation and the positive aspects of feeling good, but also work to conquer the fears and anxieties and what makes us feel bad.

CBT has several proven ways of dealing with our fears. Not only to get a rational insight and understanding of why we fear a given situation, but the methods of changing those fears so they evolve into understanding and more useful states of mind.

Fear is a very intense and powerful state of mind, if you can take that intensity and channel it to a more useful state of mind such as curiosity or even excitement, then feeling confident is easily achievable.

As always I welcome questions and feedback. Feel free to contact me to make an enquiry or book an appointment.