Book Review: The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris



I stumbled across this book, The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris, and as soon as I started reading it I was very eager to write up this review for it.  I had bought the book for one reason, but came to find out how it was able to help me in so many more ways!

My Story of Confidence

When I was younger I really struggled with my confidence.  As a matter of fact, I barely had any until I was almost an adult.  I had a lot of anxiety as a child and was super shy and self conscious because of it.  That is what led me to my poor levels of faith in myself.

I struggled tremendously when it came to game time.

This was most evident in my career as a youth league baseball player.  I was very smart for my age and picked up on how to play the game very well at practice, but struggled mightily to translate it to game time.  This show cased itself most with my hitting ability.  I would crush the ball in practice and be afraid to swing the bat in a game.

My entire social life was also handicapped by my lack of confidence until I was about half way through the age of 16.  It wasn’t until the Chicken Polka Dance incident that I started to find faith in myself (you can read that story in this article: It is Okay, You are Not Broken).

I continued to improve myself over the next decade and peaked in my first real career job back in 2000, 5 years after graduating.  I had the right mix of confidence and humbleness and was able to take the to launch my professional career.

As time wore on I came down from the peak that I had reached, but never fell into the depths that I traversed as a youth.  I still struggle with it all at times, so when I saw this book I thought it might be a good way of putting things to rest for me.

When I Started Reading… I Got Really Excited!

Dr. Russ Harris has a great writing style that makes the book almost like having a conversation with him.

Several things jumped out at me right from the beginning with this book.  The first was when the author stated that he may not be 100% right all of the time and to effectively take the content in the book and what feels right for you and leave the rest go.  I always appreciate a little humility when it comes to self-help type materials.

The next thing really struck me was the overall writing style.  It really felt that we were having a conversation, much more than it was me reading a book.  Russ was very good at knowing what kinds of thoughts we would be thinking as we read the book and that really helped me to connect with the content.

As I continued to read my excitement for the book only grew.  Whether or not he knew it or not, this book is so much more than learning how to have confidence.  Everything I was reading tied in great with many of the concepts that I have been sharing through this site.  For example, there are a lot of mindfulness techniques shared.

Several of my close family members also struggle with anxiety issues and I am looking forward to letting them all borrow the book as I think it would be of tremendous value to them.  In particular, there were a few times that I was almost brought to tears as what I was reading was the answers that they are looking for.  My only problem is who to give the book to first!

Overview of The Confidence Gap

A well written and thought provoking book.

The book is broken down into several sections to help add a distinction between the various processes that are reviewed through the book as a whole.  This certainly helped keep your attention focus on the right perspectives at the right time.

The book also has quite a few little exercises as you go which gives it more of an interactive feel.  They also provide free worksheets if you would like to use at their website  I myself did not use them as plain paper worked just fine for me, but it was a nice option to have.

The big key to the entirety of this book is that we cannot stop all of the random thoughts that pop into our heads.  However, we can choose how those thoughts affect us and our behaviors.  There are many exercises to help us learn how to unhook ourselves from the negative thoughts that we would rather not be focused on.

There are many stories shared throughout as well to help shine a clearer perspective on the various topics that are discussed.  I found the stories to be very helpful for me to understand just what the author was trying to get across.

3 Reasons Why You Should Buy This Book

Clear a spot on your shelf.  This is definitely a book that you want for your library.

I could probably go on and on about why you should buy this book to have in your own personal library, but I will do my best to keep it short and to the point here.  Personally I am half ready to buy a second or third copy just so I have extras to loan out to my family and friends!

First, the main reason I would recommend this book would be to those that are already aware that they have confidence issues.  Obviously the book caters to that specific problem and does so in a way that I have not seen before.  However, this new method makes a ton of sense and it won’t take long for you to understand that.

Secondly, anyone that is looking to learn how to become more mindful in their life, I would also recommend to read this.  The process of finding confidence in your life is very closely associated with the act of mindfulness.  There are several exercises in the book that can help you down this path as well.

Thirdly, the book is in no way religious or spiritual in any direct way.  This means that anyone of any faith can benefit from it without feeling like they have to change their beliefs.  Some people that are close to me sometimes guard themselves against my spiritual beliefs, but this book transcends that gap.

My Recommendation

I very highly recommend this book to anyone.  I think everyone could benefit from it.

If you haven’t figured it out already, I obviously love this book and I am very thankful that it came into my life.  Before I even finished reading it, I was already reaping many benefits from it.  I still remember the first time I actively used one technique when I needed to unhook myself from a negative thought.  I was amazed at that moment of how quickly I processed everything and moved on.

Another great side effect is that I have seen an increase in my overall happiness since I read this.  One of the exercises that I frequently use has also brought a lot of laughs for me as well.  In this method you take the thoughts and hear them through a character’s voice.  For me I use the characters from Seinfeld and that has helped me to laugh at the negative thoughts and be able to let them go much easier.

Share Your Thoughts or Questions

Before I go I would like to ask you to share your thoughts or questions with us here in the comment section.  Have you read the book yourself?  What did you think of the content within?  How was it able to help you?

Do you still have questions about the book before you buy it?  If so I will be more than happy to weight in and share my thoughts and perspectives with you, please just let me know.

Lastly, I would like to thank you for stopping by my little corner of the Internet.  I would also like to recommend some other articles that I have written that tie in well with the content of The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris.

James W D

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10 Replies to “Book Review: The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris”

  1. I got out of the habit of reading books in my mid to late 20s. I used to read lots of fiction, mostly sci-fi but I seemed to get burned out reading books after I left university.

    A Kindle (a gift from my girlfriend) got me back to reading again. But these days I almost exclusively read factual books. So I’m always on the lookout for good book recommendations. I’ve added The Confidence Gap to my wishlist on your recommendation.

    I too have a friend and a couple of family members who have anxiety issues. It’s painful to see how anxiety undermines their confidence in themselves and their own abilities. It seems that once they start doubting themselves, it’s a process that feeds on itself dragging people further down the lack-of-confidence path. I have a feeling I’ll be passing this book on to others.

    • Daryl, I would very, very, very much recommend this book for someone that has anxiety issues. Outside of the fact that the exercises will most definitely help them with the issue, but also for another reason. Because the book is not aimed directly at their issue, I believe it is easier to approach them about reading the book and in turn easier to help them. Sometimes when you confront anxiety with a direct approach it can push them even further away. Now I am not saying to be deceptive about it, but I believe that it is still easier to talk about with them.

      There is a lot of data that goes along with the perspectives in the book so I think that will help you on it being a factual book as well. I have not tried the whole Kindle thing yet, I guess I am just a bit old school and prefer to have the actual book on hand. I do believe though that if you follow the link here you can purchase the Kindle version from Amazon as well.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story with us.

  2. James,

    I have not read “The Confidence Gap,” but now have added it to my reading list.

    I love all types of self-help books. While I was performing standup comedy, I belonged to Toastmasters, an organization to help people with public speaking. I did a speech on self-help books, and explained my goal was to always find at least ONE concept or exercise that would enrich my life. It sounds like this book has MANY!

    Those voices in our head certainly do affect our self-confidence. You talked about your baseball hitting as a young man; I lacked the kind of hand-to-eye coordination to make that sport enjoyable, but thanks to my large feet, strong legs, and farm boy fitness, I became a wrestler.

    Though I could cream my fellow teammates wrestling, when facing opponents from other high schools, I had problems and always lost the match. But I didn’t have any insight into why that was the case until we had a scrimmage.

    A scrimmage is not the same as a match — it’s a workout period where skills and techniques can be honed and practiced. After the initial face-off, wrestlers continue bouts by assuming 1 of 2 positions. One man is on his hands and knees, while the other is beside him, also on his knees, but with one arm around the bottom man’s waist and the other on his arm.

    My coach said he wanted me on the bottom. My opponent rapidly took me down and pinned me. “My man on the bottom.” Repeat. “My man on the bottom.” Repeat. “My man on the bottom.” The other coach asked, “Don’t you want your man on top?” “No.” Well, after about a half dozen times, I realized this was never going to change. And I heard a little voice say, “This guy is going to knock me down!” But then another voice interrupted and said, “I’m sick of this! I’m going to get away!” And I did!

    Before that scrimmage, I never even realized that other voice was telling me I would fail, and then I did. OR that I could summon up a different voice to shut it up and give me at least a fighting chance.

    From that time on, I heeded my coach’s constant advice from the sideline whenever I was down, “Roger, just stand up! Just stand up!” No wrestler could stop me when I simply stood up (one time he was still hanging from my waist!).

    So thanks for brining this book into my life. And, as you say, I will probably get multiple copies to share with my friends and relatives (if they will only read it!).


    • Roger, Thank you for sharing your story! I can obviously relate to it with my own sports history.

      I also like your goal of finding at least one concept or exercise to help enrich your life. My goal is to just read the book with an open mind and allow what feels right to stick while letting the rest slide away.

      The Confidence Gap has a lot of great exercises that I have come to appreciate. I use one a lot and a couple others here and there. However I am also working on improving those ratios too!

  3. certainly sounds like both interesting and helpful reading. I don’t care who you are, at some point in life you will struggle with confidence on some level. I look forward to reading and learning from it. thanks for the recommendation.

    • You are very right Lefty (sorry, that makes me giggle a little) in that we will all struggle with confidence at some point. Matter of fact the book explains that concept very well also. A big thing you will learn in the book is that Acts of Confidence come before Feelings of Confidence.

  4. This book sounds like something I need. I struggled with confidence all through my life. I’m a bit better now but there’s always room for improvement. I like how this book gives you exercises to do in order to implement what you just read about. To actually take action instead of just reading and absorbing the helpful information. Is it a relatively easy read? I usually don’t read much so it would be good for me if it wasn’t thousands of pages long.

    • Andy, I am not a huge book reader myself, but this one caught my attention and never let it go. I read it during my lunch breaks at work and was done with it in a pretty short timeframe. Having struggled myself with confidence I highly recommend checking it out. Not only will it help you with that, I believe that it can do so much more for your overall emotional state. As I stated in the review I have been so much happier since I have started practicing what I learned from it.

    • Aditya, I hope that you learn as much as I did from it. I can’t wait to start lending it out now just for the conversations that I know will arise from doing so!

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