|Price: $10.22 at Amazon.com
Audio: $19.95 ($13.95 membership) at Audible.com
Length: 240 pages
Publisher: Trumpeter; 1 edition (September 13, 2011)
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
Table of Contents
Part One: Warming Up
- Why Bother?
- The Good Old Days
- True or False?
Part Two: The Double-Edged Sword
- It Ain’t Necessarily So
- Off The Hook
- Never Short Of Words
- The Self-Esteem Trap
- The Rules Of Engagement
- Smell The Roses
- Psychological Smog
Part Three: What Gets You Going?
- Fueling Up
- The Success Trap
- The Magic Glue
Part Four: Taming Your Fear
- The Fear Trap
- Plenty Of Space
- Riding A Wild Stallion
Part Five: Playing The Game
- Throw Off The Bowlines
- What’s Stopping You?
- The Motivation Trap
- The Power Of Self-Acceptance
- Getting Better
- Reach The Peak
- It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over
Russ Harris, the author of The Confidence Gap is a physician and therapist specializing in stress management. He often speaks to mental health professionals and presents the techniques of a new model which he calls Acceptance and Commitment Training(ACT). ACT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy originally created to treat depression but has been adapted to many other fields. Russ Harris has worked with thousands of clients whom have a lot of self-doubt and insecurities which caused them to remain stagnant in their lives. Harris is also a person who suffered a lot of anxiety himself. In the beginning of the book he talks about how he used to suffer from a lot of social anxiety. So much so that he would drown his anxiety in alcohol. He was even admitted to the hospital for alcohol poisoning during his third year at medical school. He also failed to study for exams and barely passed all because of his self-doubt. Russ Harris went through life with very little social interactions because he feared what people thought of him so Harris is no novice when it comes to anxiety and fear as he has experienced it himself. Harris now pursues his own passions including writing books, and speaking to large audiences with confidence.
The Confidence Gap talks about the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. It addresses some of the common fears you might have to get to from point A to point B. It gives you a step by step guide on how to overcome these common fears. One of these methods is how to reframe fear into something more positive. Russ Harris does a great job at addressing many of the fears everyone has in their own lives and how to deal with it. Harris uses the acronym of ACT to represent how to overcome self doubt. They are:
A – Accept our thoughts and feelings
C – Choose a valued direction
T – Take action mindfully
“The world is full of people who are trying to purchase self-confidence, or manufacture it, or who simply posture it. But you can’t fake confidence, you have to earn it. If you ask me, the only way to do that is work. You have to do the work.”
What You Can Learn
Harris takes a different approach to overcoming fear and negative thoughts. Harris actually states that the human mind is not naturally positive so a feeling of confidence is something we have to actually work for. The human brain is always on the lookout for dangerous things to keep us alive, such as a bear, a waterfall or a lion. This causes a fight or flight response which is the equivalent of fear. As a result, old traditions which create positive feelings such as affirmations, visualizations and self-help books are only useful for the short term. These techniques attempt to drown negative thoughts with positive thoughts and fail to address the underlying problem which is how to deal with negative thoughts that the human mind will inherently have.
Harris busts many myths that even I believed when I first went through this book. If you answer true to the following myths then you will get something out of this book.
- Positive affirmations help boost your self esteem.
- Boosting your self esteem improves your performance.
- People with high self esteem make better leaders.
- People with high self esteem are more likeable and leave a better impression on others.
According to Harris, studies have actually shown a correlation between high self esteem and narcissism, egotism, arrogance, prejudice, discrimination, and defensiveness when faced with feedback. When negative thoughts do occur Harris gives many great usable techniques on how to distance yourself from these thoughts so they don’t affect you.
One of the techniques Harris talks about is how it’s important to ask ourselves if our thoughts are helpful. Not if they are true or false, negative or positive. I found this to be especially useful. Harris states not to fight fear, but instead, acknowledge it, befriend it and channel it. For example, suppose your thoughts are making up seemingly negative excuses such as “I don’t have enough time” or “I’m not good enough”. You first need to acknowledge these thoughts, these thoughts can be interpreted along the lines of “I don’t have enough time, so I can’t do It” or “I’m not good enough so how can I compete with them?”. Maybe these thoughts are true and you don’t have enough time and your not good enough. Regardless, if you befriend these thoughts and interpret the thoughts as helpful rather than negative it is much more beneficial. “I don’t have enough time, so how can I make the time?”, “I’m not good enough, I will need to practice first”. One set of thoughts makes you aware of a weakness and finds a solution and one set of thoughts makes you aware of a weakness and judges you. The former is more useful while the latter is self defeating. The last step is channeling these thoughts into action. Without proving your thoughts wrong you will always be stuck. The major point here is don’t fight your thoughts, instead use it to your advantage.
The actions of confidence are first and then the feelings of confidence come later. At the end of the day we can always do things our minds say is not possible, the negative thoughts we have are just thoughts. A lot of what Harris speaks about is changing your mindset into something that is useful instead of detrimental to your success. Harris gives us techniques on how to deal with negative self-talk and beliefs. These techniques include mindfulness and reframing the fear.
“Fear is not your enemy. It is a powerful source of energy that can be harnessed and used for your benefit.”
What I didn’t like
This book was so well written it was honestly hard for me to find something I didn’t like. Harris has a different style of writing where he would urge the reader to actually stop reading and do an exercise. You can easily skip this part but some readers may find this annoying, especially if you get the audiobook version. Sometimes I felt he would also stretch simple points out a bit too much. However, most of these problems depend more on your style of reading than a problem with the actual book. Some people will find the exercises useful and some may not. It still doesn’t take away from the overall message Russ Harris is trying to present.
The Confidence Gap is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it. The book is less about overall confidence and more about how to overcome that hump of fear and self-doubt we get when trying to complete a goal. Although I couldn’t find anything particularly wrong with the book most of the techniques it presents I have heard of. So I do think there are better books out there but a great book if you are unfamiliar with mindfulness and self-development in general.
Perlin does a great job in his review if you would like another opinion!
- Provides strong techniques to achieve your goals.
- It can help you re-frame the way you look at fear.
- Can be a bit repetitive.
- Some techniques presented aren’t necessarily new, such as mindfulness.
If you would like to discuss this review please feel free to post a comment below! Whether you agree or disagree with me please don’t be afraid to speak out!
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