“People always tell me with absolute certainty that they don’t trust themselves.”

– Richard Bandler

All statements about ability, belief, capability, etc have a context the statement is relating to. If someone says “I am just not confident”, then they clearly have confidence in that statement, they have conviction that it is true. Which creates a strange contradiction in the persons thought and behaviour!

What they are really saying is “I am just not confident in X situation/s.”  However, what tends to happen is people delete the context to which the statement is referring and globalise it across their entire experience. It then becomes part of their identity. They start to believe (have a sense of certainty or confidence) that they are not a confident person. They, in short are confident about not being confident.

What the NLP methodology usually suggests is we find the desired state. In this situation the implied desired state is the client wants to feel more confident. So we could ask something like, “How will you know when you feel more confident?” To answer this the client is required to enter a confident state, which you can then intensify and anchor (either covertly or overly). However, sometimes the client is so convinced (so confident!) that that they cannot be confident that they cannot summon the state.

So what do you do?

You use a twist on the Sleight of Mouth “Refer to Self” pattern. You need to be a bit sneaky and say something like “How do you know you are just not confident?” and elicit the confident state that way, or be more bold and simply ask “Are you absolutely sure about that? 100% confident?”