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The Confidence Gap

Spirituality & Health Magazine
reviewed by Kristine Morris

The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt

By Russ Harris

Can you think back to a time when an opportunity presented itself, and you let it pass you by? Perhaps you turned down a promotion at work, or someone you admired indicated that she would like to get to know you better, but you never called her. Maybe you’re thinking of embarking on a whole new career but aren’t taking action because you feel you’d never be good enough. Possibly as a child, someone told you that you had a real gift for something, but you didn’t believe it and never moved in that direction. Too many of us miss out on opportunities in our lives because we lack confidence. With The Confidence Gap, physician and stress-management therapist Russ Harris presents a solution to low self-confidence and insecurity that may surprise you. Instead of telling us to “just get over” our fears, he shows us how fear is a perfectly normal response to stepping out of our comfort zone, and he teaches us how to transform it into a powerful source of energy by applying the innovative techniques of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and mindfulness.
Dr. Harris points out that we are often kept stuck by the belief that we have to feel confident before we can achieve our goals, perform our best, or have what we want. As Eastern traditions like Zen, yoga, and Taoism point out, however, the human mind is not naturally positive, and feelings of confidence don’t just magically appear. Harris says that our best efforts to create those feelings, including affirmations, visualizations, and self-help books, won’t give more than short-term results. Our negative thoughts only become problematic, however, when we get entangled in them, and he presents the ACT techniques, which are “shaking the foundations of Western psychology,” to make sure that we don’t.
“Our minds are truly brilliant at coming up with reasons why we can’t do what really matters to us,” says Harris. But that doesn’t mean our minds are right! With the techniques of ACT, we learn that it’s not even important whether our thoughts are true or false. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not our thoughts are helpful. One of the most hopeful (and helpful) messages we can take away from this book is this: we can learn to do the things that matter, even when our minds say it’s not possible.


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FearOvercoming Self-Doubt

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