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This Is How You Can Reprogram Your Mind And Boost Your Confidence

This Is How You Can Reprogram Your Mind And Boost Your Confidence

People with confidence seem to breeze through life with an unmistakable ease and grace. Fortunately, it’s not that they’re perfect. It’s just the way they are thinking.

Likelihood is, if you’re reading this article you’re already pretty confident in yourself. You’re wanting to improve this area of your life, which means you’re already self-aware enough to make that choice. Even just acting confident can mean you instantly feel more positive about yourself and the way you are perceived by others. But you might want to begin working at it from another angle. Why not try developing confidence from the inside out? Here’s how:

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You don’t need to try too hard

If someone is showing off in the boardroom or in any other area of life, they do not come across as confident. There is a saying in Texas that, “the smallest dog barks the loudest” and this applies here. It’s true. The person needing to talk loudly about their achievements or fish for compliments for validation will likely not be feeling very confident.

So, instead of thinking that you need to impress those around you, instead begin thinking thoughts like ‘I’ve got this’ or ‘I can do this.’ Think about ways in the past that you have killed it, and begin playing with the idea that you are a confident person now. That this is just how it’s going to be from now on.

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With this inner belief that you are confident and you don’t need to do any tricks to prove it, people will be more drawn to you. Your confidence will show through your work and clarity, because you’re no longer worried about what they think of you – you’re playing on another level.

Don’t buy people’s doubts; invest in positive role models

An unfortunate fact of life is that when we share our ambitions with friends or family the response will most likely be, ‘that’s hard to do,’ or ‘oh, I wouldn’t do that.’ But, fortunately they are not you, and each person has their own goals and drives.

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While some of these people we love and admire, we don’t have to take on what they say and believe it. But we can choose to surround ourselves with positive people who do support and encourage us to do what we want to do.

Believing in ourselves could be one of the most powerful confidence boosters and you can begin by simply listening to a podcast or an audiobook that makes you feel empowered. Anything that makes you feel like you can take on the world. Join a local group of people who are making things happen. Join a social media group of like-minded people. Whatever works to develop that belief in who you are and what you stand for.

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Make good choices consistently

Another confidence booster is to set up healthy habits that regularly improve our self-image. This could be anything, from holding a power pose every time before you go into a meeting, to going for a run, or even taking some extra time and care in the mirror during your morning routine. Whatever it is, it should be practiced at least once a week, and leave you feeling pretty darn good about yourself. Healthy habits improve our self-perception, thus boosting confidence levels and reducing stress.

This isn’t about moving mountains. Just deciding to exercise for ten minutes a week at first, for example, can begin that process to feeling fabulous in your own skin.

Basically, when you make good choices on a regular basis, a snowball effect begins where your perceived self-image improves, and thus, your confidence. You feel that shift on the inside, that you are living with more purpose than before, consistently doing what fulfils you or makes you feel good will naturally help you to connect to yourself. And those who are fully connected to themselves exude confidence. It’s tangible. Effortless.

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Daniel Owen van Dommelen

Coder, Director, Writer, Human

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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