As we begin 2009 how confident are you that things will be better this year? Do you have confidence in other people? How confident are you in our political leaders, business leaders, your boss, partner, friends, family, or neighbours? How confident are you in yourself? When life’s going well it’s much easier to be confident, but when life takes a turn and situations change, we can find that we’ve “lost our confidence” or had our “confidence knocked”.

Fortunately nature provides us with as much confidence as we need to survive. Babies are born curious little adventurers with an in-built urge to explore and learn about the world. Toddlers are into everything; they chatter to anyone and love being the centre of attention. This burst of confidence and curiosity is what enables us to learn and grow. So where does all our confidence go? How do we lose it?

Maybe this sounds familiar? Don’t touch you’ll hurt yourself; Never talk to strangers; Stay off the road you’ll get run over; Pride comes before a fall; Don’t blow your own trumpet; Stop that! Everyone’s looking”. The sad truth is that whether intentionally or unintentionally, we scare children into behaving themselves and our governments and the media does the same to us. Our news is filled with fear – global warming, terrorism, recession, job losses, repossessions, crime, accidents, epidemics we are seeing and hearing this daily.
We invent new fears every day! Did you know that there are over 500 phobias and irrational fears we can learn? Spiders, heights, open spaces (agoraphobia), enclosed spaces (claustrophobia) are most common, fear of buttons, chopsticks and even the number 13 (Triskaidekaphobia) also exist. Add to these the fear of failure, the fear of rejection, fear of embarrassing yourself in public and fear of commitment and it’s not surprising so many of us have lost our confidence.

Often someone lacking confidence is led to believe there’s something wrong with them, until quite recently phobias were diagnosed as a mental illness. Anxious people are still prescribed medication when often all they need is some coaching to help retrain their brain. Amazing advances in neuroscience and modern psychology provide a much clearer understanding of how our brain works and some powerful techniques that we can all use to retrain our thoughts and feelings. This is how people who have had life-long phobias can quickly learn to overcome their fear in a couple of hours. Walk into a high street bookshop and you will find shelves full of self-help books containing inspirational examples of how others have changed their thinking and changed their lives for the better. The secret is simple; learn more about how your brain works so you can control your own thoughts and emotions rather than let your own thoughts and emotions control you.

So, what do you know about your brain? Did you know you actually have three brains?

The oldest is the Lizard Brain (Cerebellum) the one we share with reptiles. It manages our automatic systems for survival, such as breathing, sneezing and physically jumping when we are startled. Our stressful lives can often result in us living our lives on automatic pilot. Have you ever driven somewhere in your car then find you can’t recall part of your journey? You just drove on Lizard Brain. Next time you are out look around at how many other people are living their lives using lizard brain.

Wrapped around the cerebellum is the Dog Brain (Limbic System) similar to the brains of dogs and other mammals. It’s responsible for our feelings - fear, aggressiveness and happiness. Have you ever noticed how a dog with an injured leg will still chase after a ball? The dog’s emotional urge to chase after the ball is much greater than its capacity to foresee the consequences to its injured leg. The dog brain urges us towards what feels good and away from what feels bad, despite the reality that sometimes what feels good - cream cakes, another glass of wine, 20mins extra in bed, isn’t always good for us and what feels uncomfortable exercise, study, confronting our fears, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Fortunately we also have the executive brain (Neo-Cortex) the newest brain. Its job is to consider all the sensory input from the brain what you see, hear, feel, smell and taste, then make decisions/choices based on logical reasoning and perception. In other words when we use the executive brain we can think before we leap!

People who lack confidence are allowing their “dog brain” and “lizard brain” to take over. Learning to engage the executive part of our brain gives us much more control over what we think and feel, giving us a choice of whether we live our lives in fear or with confidence.

So what about you?

When it comes to feeling fear (False Evidence Appearing Real)

Do you automatically Forget Everything And Run?

Or do you choose to Feel Energised And Ready?

Retraining the brain is about changing your perspective, the way you look at the world, the way you describe the world and ultimately the way you feel about the world. So if you want to develop more confidence in 2009 ditch the old favourite resolutions like joining the gym and retraining your body, instead choose to retrain your brain and become a more confident happier new you!

Author's Bio: 

Ian Banyard is an intuitive Confidence Coach and international business trainer with over 20 years experience and some very public successes on UK Radio and and through his national TV appearances – featuring on ITV’s This Morning Show and the highly acclaimed GMTV series “The House of Fear” and recently on a Channel Five series: “Help! I have a high maintenance wife”. Ian has helped hundreds of people overcome phobias and panic attacks and works with businesses and individuals helping them build self confidence and become more effective in their personal and professional lives through his UK Confidence Clinics.