How Confidence Affects Your Brain
Confidence. It’s an attractive quality, and one that most of us wish we had more of.
When someone speaks confidently, makes bold decisions, or simply has an air of self-assurance, we pay attention. Confidence is an essential element of success in every aspect of life, from maintaining healthy relationships and good mental health to excelling in school or work.
But is confidence just a good feeling, or is there more to it? Studies have shown that there is, in fact, a link between confidence and measurable brain activity. Let’s take a closer look at how confidence affects your brain.
Where Confidence Lives in the Brain
Scientists have long hypothesized that a part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) could play a role in confidence. The OFC is involved in the cognitive process of decision-making and is also thought to play a significant role in emotion. It has extensive connections to the limbic system, which is involved in emotion and memory. In one study, researchers found evidence that rats showed impaired decision-making confidence when the neurons in the OFC were shut off. The OFC in the human brain is more sophisticated, but researchers believe it plays the same role.
Another study found that social prediction errors (differences between expected feedback and received feedback), as well as the changes in self-esteem resulting from them, were tied to parts of the brain that are important to learning and valuation. They found that, in fact, social prediction errors were a key component in determining self-esteem. In other words, changes in self-esteem are dependent not only on whether other people like you, but on whether you expect to be liked.
How Confidence Affects Your Brain
Brain imaging studies have shown that when we think positively, we activate the “value areas” of the brain—the parts of the brain that are involved in reward, motivation, and pleasure—causing us to feel better. This implies that in training ourselves to think more positively, we can increase our self-confidence.
The brain is highly malleable, and therefore highly teachable. To that point, a recent neuroscientific study found that when pairing the occurrence of a person’s highly confident state with a real-time reward, their confidence levels increased.
This is not to suggest that training the brain to think more confidently is simple or easy. It’s not like flipping a switch. Humans are extremely complex, and there are a wide variety of things that affect our ability to think positively and feel confident, including our emotions, past experience, stress, lack of sleep, and environment. Being aware of which factors affect you is an important piece of the puzzle. If you learn to be aware of these things, then reinforce that self-awareness by reinforcing synaptic patterns of activity, you will be better able to overcome negative thoughts and improve your confidence.
3 Ways to Train Your Brain to Boost Your Confidence
A lack of confidence can make every aspect of life more difficult. Therefore, training your brain to be more confident could have far-reaching positive effects in your life. Here are three ways to start orienting your brain toward more confident thinking:
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is the enemy of confidence. When you focus on how much better someone is at something than you are, you train your brain to think constantly about what you are lacking. This causes stress, which wreaks havoc on your performance, which in turn affects your confidence. Instead of seeing others as competition, view them as someone from whom you can learn.
Focus on actions, not outcomes. Instead of relying on the outcome of a situation or the way others react to determine how you feel, focus on the action you have taken. Train your brain to be confident without the need to first see results.
Look at your insecurities as clues. Learn to see your insecurities as clues to underlying issues. They are symptoms of a deeper problem that, when addressed, can help lead to increased confidence. When insecurities arise, ask yourself, “What do I need to feel happy, loved, or accomplished?”. Then, determine where in your life these things are happening and where they are not. Very likely, the areas where your needs are not being met are the areas in which you feel the least confidence.
In addition to these three things, more extensive brain training can increase your confidence by improving cognitive skills such as attention, memory, and logic. The brain training therapies at LearningRx offer fun, engaging and challenging mental exercises to boost cognitive skills and confidence. Our therapies are customized to address your unique needs and abilities, and are designed to strengthen the foundational cognitive skills that enable your brain to function at its best.
Want to learn more about how brain training with LearningRx can help you become more confident? Contact us here. We look forward to speaking with you!