We're going to make sure this post is different, at least in part, from last week's post on impostor syndrome. Impostor syndrome isn't only about confidence, after all, and, let's face it, we all know someone who might suffer from maybe a little too much confidence.
First off, the prefrontal cortex developed late in evolution — in fact, he says, it might be the piece of the brain that helped separate Homo sapiens from earlier hominids. It takes a long time to mature, often until we're in our early- to mid-30s.
We used to think (until fairly recently, actually), that the prefrontal cortex didn't do much. In fact, frontal lobotomies, which were common until the 1960s, basically severed the prefrontal cortex's connection to the rest of the brain.
If you think of all the bits of information you know or remember as Lego blocks, writes Goldberg, it is the job of the prefrontal cortex to arrange, sort, disarrange, and reassemble the blocks. That's what metacognition is.
Andrew Luttrell, et al., did a
In other words, people would say they were confident if the cognitive task they were given — such as remembering a list or making a decision — was easy or didn't take much effort. If it was difficult, they reported lower confidence, even if the task was within their expertise.
Some scientists point to a
• The "drive" system, which works on dopamine (you might remember this is the happiness chemical that gets triggered when we get more likes on Facebook, for example). Linked to self-esteem, when everything's good with this system, we go out chasing resources, education, mates, and whatever else. When we're not getting our dopamine hit, we're stagnating (or worse, beating ourselves up).
• Threat-protection. Our fight-flight system basically tells us to shut down and slink off when we're criticizing ourselves or taking it from someone else.
• Mammalian care-giving system: This runs on oxytocin and our internal opiate system (again, refer back to this post for a review of our happiness chemicals). This is sort of the system you want driving you in times of criticism, whether from without or within — it can kind of give you a hug and get you headed back on with your day.
Let's talk about getting more confident, then. While it's possible to
Suparna Malhotra offers up a
The secret is to exhale longer than you inhale. For example, inhale to the count of 4 and then exhale to the count of 8. Do this several times until you feel a calming effect. If you don't have good breath support, then take in fewer breaths. Strategic breathing is the key. Slow down the breath. If this appears challenging, try exhaling through a straw.
One study found that
If you're looking to be a leader, you might
There's a whole U.S. coaching institute