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The #1 Major Life Hack for Raising your Confidence Level.


Maria was a broken woman. My first impressions as I looked into her dark eyes were of someone who was haunted.

‘I haven’t been able to sleep for months now’ she explained. ‘And when I do sleep he is there!’

Turned out Maria had been married to a violent man; a man who was involved in the shady world of drug dealing. He had been abusive to her in the marriage but when he died a violent death, she thought she would be free of him.

‘In my Sicilian culture,’ she said. ‘If you are visited in your dreams by somebody who has died, they are actually there. They are with you. He has been coming to me in my sleep. He frightened me when he was alive and he continues to frighten me still. Will I never be free of him?’

Maria’s belief system was doing her irreparable harm. Robbing her of her peace of mind in the day and her ability to rest at night. She truly believed she was being haunted by this man.

Her belief system could potentially destroy her. She had lost confidence in her ability to move on.

Lucid dreams

I used a technique with Maria called lucid dreaming

Lucid dreaming means consciously taking control of a dream and making changes to it.

‘Let’s try an experiment’ . I said to Maria ‘You believe this man is actually visiting you in your dreams but I believe differently. I believe this is simply a dream and, if so, you will be able to make changes to that dream.’

Maria and I worked on a strategy. The next time he appeared to her in a dream, she would press a magic button that would change him in some way, making him smaller and less powerful. She chose to change him into a cat, to shoo him out of her house and lock the door behind him.

We rehearsed the strategy in guided visualisation.

Maria returned on her next session looking entirely different. She told me she had indeed been able to change this man into a cat in her dream and to shoo him out of the house. She had a made a decision that, if he ever returned, she would do exactly the same.

Maria agreed her beliefs about the significance of the dream were wrong. She now felt truly free of this man and could move on with her life peacefully.

To believe or not to believe. That is the question

So how do we acquire our belief systems? Where do they come from? Are they accurate? And how do your beliefs influence your confidence level?

Depending on your age, sex, culture, religion, country of birth, you will be born into a society which holds certain beliefs. As a growing child, it is likely you would have accepted those believes and they became your worldview.

But belief systems are simply that; systems for navigating the world. Some people will be lucky and hold beliefs which have a positive effect on their confidence level.

Others are less lucky and are needlessly holding on to a set of self limiting beliefs they picked up along the way.

There was a time when people thought the world was flat.

There was a time when people thought that water was the gateway between worlds.

Not long ago, people thought that if you ran a mile in a speed faster than 4 minutes, terrible damage would be inflicted on the internal organs of the human body.

All these beliefs were incorrect but, until challenged, were accepted as the truth.

So if your belief system is affecting your confidence level, simply shop around and find a new one and consider this ‘monkey story’ as the final evidence that all beliefs must be challenged and all beliefs can be changed.

The Monkey Story

1. Start with a cage containing five apes. In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put stairs under it. Before long, an ape will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.

2. As soon as the ape touches the stairs, spray all the apes with cold water. After a while, another ape makes an attempt with the same result – all the apes are sprayed with cold water.

3. Turn off the cold water. If, later, another ape tries to climb the stairs, the other apes will try to prevent it even though no water sprays at them.

4. Now, remove one ape from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new ape sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the apes attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

5. Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.

6. Again, replace a third original ape with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four apes that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest ape.

7. After replacing the fourth and fifth original apes, all the apes which have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced.
Nevertheless, no ape ever again approaches the stairs. Why not?

BECAUSE that’s the way it’s always been done around here!

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.