Article submitted in the Oxford Times Supplement Magazine March 2006

By Abi Strevens MA, SRAsT(M), D. Hyp BSCH

"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it"


Neuro-psychologists have discovered that because our brain expects something to happen in a certain way, we often achieve exactly what we anticipate -we get what we expect! This is called expectancy theory. Psychologists also say that 90% of our behaviour is habitual. So, in order to move positively forwards in our lives and achieve the things we want, adapting our thoughts and behaviour, even in small ways, can make huge positive changes.

How we feel and think about ourselves, and others, is based on our thoughts, values and beliefs. Strange though it may sound, you alone are responsible and in control of your thoughts and the subsequent feelings that these generate. Therefore our thoughts create our reality. This can be good, positive and empowering or it can be negative, limiting and frightening.

For many people a lack of confidence can cause difficulties in some or all areas of their lives; professional, social and personal. It can even affect our auto-immune and central nervous system causing various health problems

Lack of confidence can be caused by many things, such as; the fear of not being good enough, negative internalised beliefs and comparison to others, a past negative situation, event or experience and fear of the future. A lack of confidence is fear based and can often lead to anxiety, depression and sometimes the development of phobias.

Whatever the cause and origin, we feel a lack in confidence through a combination of:

negative self talk – repeatedly putting ourselves down in our thoughts, with negative and limiting beliefs.

negative rehearsal - repeatedly imagining the very worst that can happen in a situation, event, response

negative over-generalisation – believing that because you have had one unfortunate experience that you will always have a bad experience in similar circumstances

negative over dramatisation –of the reality of a situation, response or reaction.

negative framing – looking at situations in life as the glass being half empty rather than half full

negative filtering – removing all the positive and only seeing and hearing the negative

The good news is that the un-conscious mind believes what the conscious mind tells it, and the brain is designed to solve any problem and reach any goal that you give it. Just as we can programme ourselves to feel, amongst many other things, a lack in confidence, we can programme ourselves to feel good, motivated and confident in our abilities.

Tips on Improving Self-Confidence
Develop positive; self- talk, thinking patterns, problem solving strategies, affirmations and visualisations of the future