I talked in the last blog about confidence and mindfulness. In the next two blogs, I’d like to go back to my roots in NLP and look at the subject through one of the most powerful conceptual tools in the NLP armoury, the Logical Levels. These were created by Robert Dilts, as a way of checking where coaching interventions would be of most value. If you lack confidence, what are the sources of that lack, and what can you do about it?

The Logical Levels

There are six levels: Environment, Behaviour, Capabilities, Beliefs and Values,
Identity, and Mission. Different clients can have different issues at different
levels. For example, one person may have, at one end of the levels, a comfortable
Environment and, at the other end, a clear view of what their Mission is. But
they have picked up bad habits (Behaviour) and lack social skills (Capabilities),
which mean they keep messing up.
Lack of confidence can come from issues at any or all of these levels. I shall
begin with what some NLP thinkers regard as the ‘lower’ levels – but which can
exercise powerful influences over individuals and their lives.


A poor Environment can be appallingly draining of confidence. This isn’t just
about material poverty. Being surrounded by people who don’t like you or who
simply don’t ‘get’ you can be deeply dispiriting.
The cure for this has to be to realize this fact and, probably, to move on. In the
short term, understanding that circumstances beyond your control make you an
outsider in a situation can help you manage it. But in the long term, it is
healthier to get out and find new groups – new workplaces, new communities,
new places of worship – where you fit better. It is a presupposition of NLP that is
harder to change other people than yourself – and that’s changing other
individuals. Changing large numbers of other people and their culture and world
view is an incredibly daunting task. Gandhi and Martin Luther King might have
done this, but for most of us, a change of scene is an easier option.
By contrast, confidence comes naturally to someone who knows that they fit into
their environment, that they have a useful role there and are valued.


Behaviour is next on our list. This is a lot about habits. People can learn
unconfident behaviour – always apologizing; having ‘weak’ body language such
as slouching or not engaging people in eye contact. Such habits have effectively
been programmed into them.
NLP is ideal here, as it is about reprogramming people – in a positive way, of
course; in ways that they choose. Sadly it can be used by unscrupulous people for
more damaging ends, but at least this shows it works. I would invite clients to
look at times when they have lapsed into the kind of habitual behaviour
described above, and then examine the exact sequence of events that led to it.
Usually there is some kind of external trigger and an ‘automatic’ internal
reaction to it. We can then work on changing this reaction.


Confidence is also related to our Capabilities in a situation. That may be our
technical or professional skill, or it might be the more nebulous area of ‘social
With some technical skills, increased confidence comes naturally through
Social skills can be harder to master. Read up on them. Go on courses, not just
mine, not just NLP.
What NLP brings to the party is the concept of ‘modelling’ (or ‘modeling’ if
you’re reading this in the States!). Done fully, this is a very complex process,
and I would invite clients to try it in full. However sometimes this is not possible.
The basic idea is to find a person who has the skills, and then examine not just
what they do (though this is useful) but how and why.

What to do now

If you are reading this now, consider NLP training in the future but start now by
talking to people you know who are confident. What are they feeling in the
situation they find easy but which you find stressful? What are they thinking?
Observe them in action. In a recent blog, I included a link to US President Bill
Clinton in a political debate – just watch him: that is confidence!
In the next blog, I shall move ‘up’ the levels – though the whole ‘up/down’ thing
can be overdone. Get the material in this blog sorted, and you are well on the
way to vastly increased confidence. Ignore it, and it will undermine bigger, more
conceptual gains.

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