Building up your confidence

Some thoughts ... Nicky Carling

Many of us will be familiar with the way that we have to get back into ringing after a holiday; those first few blows can sometimes feel a little disjointed until we get back into our stride so you could be forgiven for wondering how it is going to be after the break we are currently experiencing.

We can all refresh our memory about the theory of how to ring, just as we can take a refresher on how to drive. But most of us don’t drive how we were taught. We have worked out what works for us and is safe. Equally, we don’t really ring like that either so maybe the best approach is to take some deep breaths and allow muscle memory to be in charge; trust that your body will remember how to ring. If you really are uneasy about this and assuming we will, at some point, be allowed to stand next to one another, there is no shame in having somebody hovering nearby in case of any handling difficulties.

This recent episode has caught a lot of people out. Therapists report having seen many people have an anxiety wobble who never thought it would happen to them and at times it has seemed like a roller coaster ride, where anxiety has come and gone in waves that everyone is riding at their own pace. We haven’t been able to escape it – it’s global so there has been nowhere to escape to. Feelings of being trapped without the power over our lives that we normally enjoy and the opportunity to plan, and bring those plans to fruition, have all been prevalent over this year. Add to that we have all had to do as we are told and most of us are rubbish at that!

As we begin to return to our lives as we chose them to be, and to ringing, above all else we need to be kind to ourselves and each other. Think for a moment about your tower … what are the positives about ringing there and what would you like to change? Maybe your fellow ringers are supportive and encouraging and the only troubling element is how much you have remembered. A few deep breaths, some positive thoughts and maybe that person by your side (subject to government guidelines on social distancing measures etc.) might be all that you need to remind yourself of what you have been missing.

For some people however, other worries will start to come into play; maybe there is someone in your tower whose ‘help’ is less than helpful. Shouting, sarcasm and pointless criticism do not have a place in ringing. Such behaviour is never going to achieve the desired outcome and is far more likely to lose you ringers at a time when many will be seriously wondering whether they want to come back at all (it seems that Sunday mornings are really long and loads can be achieved – or not – who knew) and where they want to go back to. If this happens in your tower maybe now is the time to set new expectations regarding behaviour to create a more welcoming and less judgmental atmosphere.

Much of my professional work is about helping people to build their confidence and I use a number of therapeutic approaches, which I will outline for you to try that are fairly quick and simple whilst, at the same time, being effective in helping people to achieve just that. There are no side effects with any of the approaches and research studies regarding their efficacy are available. Some will argue that these approaches are merely the placebo effect in action but considering most confidence issues are down to the nocebo effect (the other side of the same coin), I can’t see a problem with it, if that were to be the case. There is also research material available regarding the placebo effect and the power of the mind – Dr. David Hamilton is always a good read on this subject and his books are easily available online. These approaches are complementary and should not replace medical advice and intervention so please contact your GP if you feel that you need to.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT or Tapping)

This is a really simple approach that can be used for a variety issues. It came out of America about 20-30 years ago and works on the premise that we all have energy flowing through us which can be blocked by negative emotions. Acupuncture points are tapped or pressed, whilst taking a deep breath in order to reduce or release these blockages

In its simplest form, and for ringing related anxiety, is to tap on the points identified in the diagram, take a deep breath and think ‘Calm’ as you breathe out. Begin and end by taking three deep breaths with your hand crossed over your chest and then work through the rest of the points. Continue until you feel better. The points can be tapped in a specific order but they don’t need to be. We tend to be very good at overcomplicating things. Please don’t. Just breathe deeply, tap/press on the points and think ‘Calm’.



The basis of mindfulness is about being in the present. By taking deep breaths and using your senses to root yourself in the present moment, you can take a break from the hamster wheel that we can quite often find ourselves in. Just a few minutes of mindfulness, maybe once every hour or so, can reduce our levels of anxiety and we can actually be more effective afterwards. Any thoughts that come into your mind are not to be analysed but merely allowed to carry on floating by. Anything important can be dealt with later. This is just a very simple explanation but there are loads of books and apps devoted to mindfulness if you wanted to explore it further.

Alternative remedies


Another approach is hypnotherapy, which is basically deep relaxation with positive suggestions. It’s not scary, there is no weird mind control stuff going on and it is nothing like you will see on the TV. It is however very effective in helping to reinforce positive messages about many things, ringing being one of them, by making suggestions to your subconscious mind whilst you are in a relaxed state. Your subconscious mind will then begin to implement these suggestions if, and only if, they are acceptable to you. Think about how TV advertising works for an easy example; repeatedly reinforcing the message that your life will be a certain way if you buy the shoes, the car, the aftershave etc. is aiming to encourage your subconscious mind to encourage you to make those purchases when the time arises.

To further remove any fear of hypnotherapy, it is considered that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. Have you ever arrived at your destination only to realise that you have not really been aware of the journey? That’s self-hypnosis and we do it a lot.

Several years ago I wrote a couple of hypnotherapy scripts specifically for ringing which, when listened to consistently over a period of time, seemed to have the desired effect of building confidence in ringers that needed a boost. Please get in touch if you want to know more as it isn’t suitable for everyone and there is a cost involved.

Bach Flower Remedies

These are wonderful to work with and many people to find out that they feel better. The remedies are available in stores such as Holland & Barrett and Boots and were created by a Harley Street GP in the 1930s. The remedy that you are most likely to be familiar with is the Rescue Remedy but there are 38 others, each relating to a negative emotion, as identified by Dr. Edward Bach. They are safe for general use and have no known side effects and you can’t overdose on them. Just be aware that they are stored in alcohol; not a problem for many ringers that I know.

So, with ringing anxiety in mind, the most obvious choice is the Rescue Remedy. This is a blend of five remedies identified as being helpful in reducing anxiety and panic. Other options would be:

  • Aspen – general anxiety that is hard to shift and seems to linger for no apparent reason.
  • Mimulus – a known fear; fear of going wrong, breaking a stay etc.
  • White Chestnut – worries that go round and round in the back of your mind – what if this happens, or that?
  • Walnut – helping to adapt to change; getting back to normal for example.
  • Impatiens – impatience with self and others.
  • Larch – low self-confidence.

Details of the remaining remedies can be found on the Bach Centre website. I would suggest four drops of the Rescue Remedy or two drops of the other remedies four times a day, either straight on to your tongue or in a drink. You should begin to notice a gentle shift in how you feel fairly soon after starting to take them. Rescue Remedy can also be taken in moments of shock or panic.


Nicky Carling
Leicester Diocesan Guild

I hope that this has given you something to think about and maybe some tools that you can use to help get you back in the ringing chamber. If you have any questions, please contact me and I will do my best to point you in the right direction.

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