How To Be Confident

If I could show you a way that would absolutely guarantee you have the power to positively change how you think about any situation, would you want to know about it?

And no, I’m not talking about anchoring, reframing or the need to consume large amounts of alcohol.

Well I can.

I can show you a process that can move you from nervous to confident, or from uninspired to motivated, or between more or less any two states you choose.

Today I’m going to explain to you how you can use one of the most powerful tools NLP (neurolinguistic programming) has to offer. This post cannot be scanned and requires your total attention if you want to get anything out of it of value.

If you have a copy of How To Be Rich and Happy you may already be familiar with submodalities as we talk about them in the book. However, of the many people I have spoken to that have bought and read the book, not one has bothered to complete this exercise.

I’m not being critical because I used to quickly bypass anything that looked remotely like hard work when reading self-development books. Until that is, I noticed rather unsurprisingly that I wasn’t getting the results I desired.

Eventually it dawned on me. Whining that self-development books don’t work, was akin to buying a new car, refusing to use the breaks, and then complaining to the manufacturer after you have demolished the garage door.

The choice is yours with this, I can only show you how to do some epic shit. If you’d rather not that’s cool, really it is, I’m not here to brow beat anybody into anything.

This isn’t the only way to take control of how you think about things, but it is one of the fastest and most effective.

The other day I got an e-mail from a reader who asked if I’d ever posted on how to be assertive? I couldn’t remember doing so and it was a topic that piqued my interest after reading the e-mail.

However, the more I  thought about it, the more I realized the post would be insanely long and I’d have to cover many of the same topics that I covered in my free ebook ‘Don’t Panic‘. And if you don’t already have that click the link and it will download automatically.

Tools like visualization, anchoring and reframing work across multiple areas of life equally well and there is no need to keep explaining the same process and just changing the context.

For example, you can set yourself an anchor for confidence if you are a shy person the same way as you can set yourself an anchor for calm if you are somebody that has a tendency to panic.

You can visualize a sporting event going well exactly the same way as you can visualize a speaking engagement going well.

And you can reframe the dog eating a brand new pair of glasses as a learning experience in much the same way as you can losing a sale at the last moment to a competitor.


Visualization and reframing are pretty easy to explain. There is also a shed load of scientific research that proves they work under all sorts of different situations.

Submodalities are a tad trickier and if there has been any research that isn’t anecdotal (and there’s a boat load of that, which is even more than a shed load), I’ve yet to see it.

For the purpose of explaining submodalities I’ll use the example of gaining more confidence as that is the main ingredient in being assertive. However, you can use it to move from more or less any disempowering state to an empowering one.

This is the video that is usually only available to people that have bought How To Be Rich and Happy. And seeing as it’s you, here is the link to the forms I use too. Feel free to ease your undoubted guilt, by buying a copy!

The ideal way to do this is to read the post, then watch the video, and then try out for yourself.

For any of this to work you have to recreate the negative feelings exactly as if you were experiencing them in real life.

There is no way round this, so if your negative state is so extreme that it may throw you into a panic attack, don’t do it!

To begin with you’re going to need about half an hour and a quiet space. It works best if you are lying down or at the very least in a comfy chair.

With your eyes closed I want you to think of the negative situation in as much detail as you can muster. See what you would see, hear, what you would hear, and allow the subsequent negative feelings to arise naturally.

Really take your time with this because the more you can intensify the feelings the better this will work.

When you are at the point very close to how you would feel in real life, (so in this example that may be experiencing intense nerves), I want you to start paying attention to the pictures in your head.

It’s highly unlikely you will have ever done this before as they happen so rapidly and at a time when your focus is often external rather than internal, so don’t worry if it takes you a while to get accustomed.

Here are some questions I want you to ask yourself:

  • Is the picture a movie or a still?
  • It is color or black and white?
  • Is is framed or panoramic?
  • Is it 2D or 3D
  • Is it sharp or blurry?
  • If it is in color are they vibrant or dull?
  • Are you in the picture or looking at it through your own eyes?
  • Where in space is the picture? It could be above your eye line, below, left or right.
  • How far away from you do this picture or movie start?

Gather as much information as you can in this situation as the more you have the more you can manipulate it to help you empower yourself for future similar events.

Once you have done that I want you to tune into the internal chatter. Frequently people will tell me there isn’t any. This is rarely, if ever, true. Sure they can’t hear it because their focus is on the pictures and the negative feelings, but it is there, trust me.

Take time to tune in and hear what’s going on. I’m not too bothered about the content at this stage, I just want you to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the voice yours?
  • Is it louder or quieter than normal?
  • Is it more passive or more aggressive than normal?
  • What’s the pace like?
  • Where is the voice?  By that I mean is it inside your head, and if so whereabouts? Back front, top, bottom?
  • Is it mono or stereo

When you have done all that, open your eyes and break your state by thinking about something completely unconnected.

If you think it’s necessary, write down what you found on the form you downloaded so that you can refer back to it.

There are now two options open to you. The way I usually use it with clients is to do the same process for the state they want to create at will. Therefore, that’s what we’ll do now and then I can explain a potential short-cut you may prefer to adopt when you get better at this.

Think about an event when you demonstrated assertiveness. Don’t tell me you never have because that simply isn’t true. At some point in your life you will have taken control of a situation even if it was only being assertive with the dog and insisting he get off the sofa.

If you can’t think of one and insist that you really are never assertive, use that one, because you just demonstrated assertiveness by being assertive that you’re never assertive.

We are now going to repeat the process exactly as before. Make as many mental notes about the pictures and sounds as possible and we can then see where the changes can be made.

Submodality Drivers

If you look at your list from the first stage and then again from the second you will notice some differences. Let me be clear, I’m not talking about content differences, of course they’ll be present as you have imagined two separate situations.

I’m looking for changes in the way you view and hear the information internally.

I have had some clients where there are lots of differences and a couple where we literally only had one tiny thing.  But I have never had a client where both sides were exactly the same. NEVER.

What are the obvious differences on your list?


Maybe one image is color and the other black and white, or one is a movie and the other a still image?

Perhaps your positive experience involved you in the picture interacting with other people, and the negative had you disassociated and looking at the picture through your own eyes?


It’s possible the voice on the negative situation has defaulted to a parent or even an old teacher. It is equally likely the voice of the unpleasant event was emanating from the back of your hear whereas the positive event was at the front or even the side. Perhaps the voice tone was different or the pace?

As you check all the differences you can understand the power of all this because you can realize that it isn’t just the content that determines how you feel, but how you see, hear and process that content.

Mapping Across

The procedure now involves mapping across the differences from the good to the bad event and noticing how that changes the feelings.

Let’s presume your unwanted event was a black and white image and you saw the desired state in full vibrant color. What do you suppose happens when you turn up the color on the negative event?

There’s a really good chance that you will start to notice the negative feelings evaporate, or at the very least diminish. Of course it is possible it could make it worse, but that’s cool because you can just turn the color down again.

If it makes you feel better leave that in place and move on to the next difference and see what changing that does. If the first change made you feel worse, replace it and then try the next on your list.

Sometimes getting the order right can be important. So if you make a change that worsens things you can always try it again after you have done some other fine-tuning.

Once you have gone through the visual aspects do the same with the sound track.

I have noticed that when people are highly auditory they often have no changes in the pictures, but just one change in the soundtrack can dramatically alter the way they feel about things.

On two recent occasions I had clients that just by moving the voice from back to front, radically improved the way they felt.

Thanks for sticking with me so far because I know this isn’t easy to absorb in one go. In fact they don’t usually teach it until you get to Master Practitioner level at NLP, so give yourself a pat on the back if you haven’t completely glazed over.

The Shortcut – Kind Of

The way I gave you involves 4 stages.

  1. Imagine the negative scene and note the submodalities
  2. Imagine the positive desired state and note the submodalities
  3. Map across the positive submodalities to the negative event
  4. Future pace (more later)

You can actually reduce that to two stages by adopting the following approach

  1. Imagine negative scene and adjust the submodalities as you go
  2. Future pace

The reason I don’t use this approach very often is because it is very much trail and error and if somebody has an unusual way of coding information it can take even longer than the full version.

To use this approach we have to make some generalizations that can sometimes be wrong!  I have seen more or less every permutation possible for this, so if you find the exact opposite of what I’m about to say works better for you, that’s fine, go with it.

If you want to turn a negative event into a good one, here are a few short cuts that you can try to begin with. Just remember, the opposite of everything I say may be true for you!

  • Positive events tend to be more colorful and vibrant, so turn up the color.
  • Movies are quite often more appealing, so add movement if you are looking at a still image.
  • Overwhelming feelings can often arise when the picture is right up against your face, so push it back.
  • An image that is way off in the distance can sometimes seem unattainable, so drag it nearer (very useful with goals that seem ‘out of reach’ for people because that’s literally where they have placed them).
  • Intimidating people or situations tend to be visualized higher than eye line, so drag them down so you are on an equal footing.
  • In negative situations people regularly revert to the voice of a parent or even an old school teacher. You can make the voice somebody that supports you and encourages you. Of course it can be yourself, but it doesn’t have to be.
  • A voice at the back of the head can often be negative so try it at the side or front.
  • The pace and tone of the voice can be important. if it sounds panicky and aggressive they are the feelings you are likely to generate, so clam it down.

Changing The Content

I have said that we’re not trying to change the content of the event and that is true we’re not.

If you have to give a presentation you cannot usually control where you give it and to whom, so it wouldn’t make sense to imagine giving it on a Caribbean Beach to a child out horse on an inflatable as that isn’t likely to happen.

However, the conversations inside your head are not content per se, so we can change those. If you’re screaming internally “Oh my God I’m going to fucking die” then it’s going to be an uphill struggle.

The reality is most people don’t know they are rambling away in such a manner. I’ve talked about working with people that have a severe fear flying and that they always not only saw planes crashing or wreckage on runways, but had conversations inside their head describing the carnage.

The problem is they were previously on autopilot (no pun intended) and so this carried on without them consciously being aware of it.

Knowing that you can not only change the way you say things, but what you actually say can be incredibly liberating for people.

Once you have done all your tweaking and are feeling much happier about things, you can finally add a kick ass sound track that makes you feel great. It may literally be a sound track of inspiring music or it can be you talking confidently and pumping yourself up, or even a mixture of both. After all, it’s your head.

Future Pace

In NLP future pacing is the process of  moving forward in time to test whether changes we have made work as we would like them to.

With you I want you to think of the event you are looking to change. Has it reverted back to the original image and thus the negative feelings? If so don’t worry, just readjust it again and then break your state.

Keep doing this until the empowering movie pops into your mind automatically. This may take a few times, just be persistent and patient.

The Example

As per my last post ‘What Is Happiness?’, I’ve quit alcohol for a month. I sometimes have trouble with using submodalities on myself because I’ve done it so many times that I start second guessing what I’m doing. In fact I liken it to the scene in 2001 A Space Odyssey when HAL asks Dave what he’s doing.

However, the other day I started thinking about a nice can of cold beer with my eyes closed.

Guess what I saw?

It was large, colorful and enticing with condensation  running down the can signifying it’s luscious coldness. It was slap bang in the middle of my vision and looking very, very, appealing. I wont even go into what my voice was saying other than to say it wanted a drink.

All I did to reduce the desire was make it black and white and push it back a few feet and hey presto, I was no longer drooling all over myself. Cool eh?

My guess is less than 1 in 10 people who started this post finished it. You are part of a select group, so what are you going to do with this new found knowledge?

Photo ‘Obama Lama’ Courtesy of Playing Futures Applied Nomadology