The Confidence Gap Summary


a daring adventure, or nothing

Yes, confidence is a game – a skilful psychological game. And unfortunately, our society gives us the wrong rules to play it

Part one: Warming up

Chapter 1: Why bother?

whenever we lack self-confidence, the usual suspects are: excessive expectations, harsh self-judgement, preoccupation with fear, lack of experience, and lack of skill.

Chapter 2: The good old days

In almost every human culture, fear is demonised as a sign of personal weakness – especially in men.

And in our society, the brainwashing starts very young. Think about it.

When you were a little kid and you were feeling frightened, what kinds of unhelpful things did adults say to you?

And in the process, what messages did they send you about fear

Chapter 3: True or false?

When you step out of your comfort zone, take a risk or face a challenge, you will feel fear.

That’s not weakness; it’s the normal state of affairs for normal human beings.

It is not fear that holds people back – it is their attitude towards fear that keeps them stuck.

Genuine confidence is not the absence of fear; it is a transformed relationship with fear

Part two: The double-edged sword

Chapter 4: It ain’t necessarily so

Negative thoughts only become problematic if we get all caught up in them, give them all our attention,

Chapter 5: Off the hook

Our minds are truly brilliant at coming up with reasons as to why we can’t do what really matters to us.

1. Obstacles: Our minds point out all those obstacles and

difficulties that lie in our paths.

2. Self-judgements: Our minds tell us all those ways in which we we’re not up to the task.

3. Comparisons: Our minds compare us unfavourably to others who seem to do it better, have more talent, or have it easier.

4. Predictions: Our minds predict failure, rejection or other unpleasant outcomes.

Chapter 6: Never short of words

The words inside our head are not a problem; the problem lies in the way we respond to them.

If we fuse with those words, they can easily cause us difficulties But if we defuse, they don’t.

Chapter 7: The self-esteem trap

Our society often encourages us to think in terms of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, ‘successes’ and ‘failures’, “champions’ and ‘underachievers’.

If we get hooked by the story that we’re a ‘winner’, a ‘champion’ or a ‘success’, there may well be some short-term benefits.

when people with low self-esteem try to boost it through positive self-affirmations, they generally end up feeling even worse!

Self-acceptance, self-awareness and self-motivation are all far more important than self-esteem.

Chapter 8: The rules of engagement

When we keep our attention on what we are doing and remain fully engaged in the task, then it doesn’t matter what our minds say.

Our thoughts only create problems if they hook us.

one thing you’ll always notice about confident people: they are very engaged in whatever they are doing.

When they’re socialising, they’re thoroughly absorbed in the conversation.

Chapter 9: Smell the roses

If we stop rushing around on automatic pilot and use our five senses to connect fully with the world around us, we will find much more fulfilment.

Chapter 10: Psychological smog

Psychological smog takes many forms: worrying, blaming, fantasising, rehashing old rejections and failures, planning escapes, plotting revenge, daydreaming, rehearsing conversations, ‘analysis paralysis’, dwelling on times long gone and predicting the future.

The instant we unhook ourselves from those thoughts and engage fully in whatever we are doing, we can see clearly and take effective action.

Part three: What gets you going?

Chapter 11: Fuelling up

The more we choose action that gives us short-term relief from discomfort, rather than doing what enriches our lives in the long term, the smaller and emptier our lives tend to become. We often call this ‘living in the comfort zone’.

The actions of confidence come first; the feelings of confidence come later.

Chapter 12: The success trap

Our society generally defines success in terms of achieving goals: fame, wealth, status and respect; a big house, a luxury car, a prestigious job, a huge salary.

When people achieve these things, our society tends to label them as ‘successful’. But if we buy into this popular notion of success, we set ourselves up for a lot of unnecessary suffering.

Chapter 13: Magic glue

Our values are like magic glue. They glue together the tiniest little actions to the biggest, long-term goals

Part four: Taming your fear

Chapter 14: The fear trap

Fear was nothing more nor less than an unpleasant feeling

‘Exposure’ basically means staying in contact with whatever you’re afraid of until you get used to it. And it has more positive impact on behaviour than any other tool, technique, or strategy known to humankind.

Chapter 15: Plenty of space

Trying to get rid of your fear takes up a lot of energy and is very distracting (like constantly trying to shoo away flies)

what determines their performance is not their anxiety level, but their capacity for task-focused attention

Rather than trying to get rid of unpleasant feelings, we open up and accommodate them.

We just stop investing our time and effort in fighting them. And the more space we can give those difficult feelings, the smaller their impact and influence on our lives.

Chapter 16: Riding a wild stallion

Fear is like a wild stallion. If we know how to harness its energy, we can use it to our advantage.

Don’t fight with your fear; it’s there to support you. It’s a signal; it lets you know you’re facing a challenge.

Imagine shaking fear’s hand, inviting it into your body, and

slipping your arm warmly around its back.

Many successful athletes, businesspeople and stage performers don’t use the word ‘fear’ to describe

those feelings they have when facing a challenge. They often talk instead of being ‘revved’, ‘pumped’, ‘juiced’, ‘wired’ or ‘amped’.

Part five: Playing the game

Chapter 17: Throw off the bowlines

Whatever is interfering with our confidence, the solution lies in mindfulness, values and action: defuse from  unhelpful thoughts..

Expand around difficult feelings, take action guided by our values, and engage fully in whatever we are doing

Chapter 18: What’s stopping you?

What holds us back? What stops us from acting on our values? The answer is: FEAR. No, not fear, but FEAR, an acronym that stands for:

F – Fusion

E – Excessive goals

A – Avoidance of discomfort

R – Remoteness from values

How To Get Unstuck

The antidote to FEAR is to DARE. Yes, DARE is another acronym, which stands for:

D – Defusion

A – Acceptance of discomfort

R – Realistic goals

E – Embracing values

Chapter 19: The motivation trap

Next time you hear your mind say, ‘I’ve got no motivation’, recognise that’s actually impossible and unhook yourself. Then clarify the desire that is driving your behaviour.

Chapter 20: The power of self-acceptance

Transform our relationship with failure. Regularly reminding ourselves that failure is a fact of life.

Think of failure as nothing more than honest feedback.

Chapter 21: Getting better

If you’re always trying to do your very best at everything, you’ve been hooked by perfectionism.

Motivational gurus love to shout from the rooftops, ‘Always do your best! Always give one hundred per cent!’, but if we follow this rule, it’s a recipe for major stress and burnout.

Chapter 22: Reach the peak

To sustain peak performance in the long term, there are no two ways about it: we have to look after our health and wellbeing.

And that means not only taking care of our bodies, but also our relationships.

Sadly, the world of ‘high achievers’ is not only full of stress-related illness, but also heartbreak, divorce and broken families.

Does it have to be this way?

Chapter 23: It ain’t over till it’s over

The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t.

It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere

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