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How the Brain Builds Confidence

Me looking at the human brain

If you take anything from this, make it this, you are not doomed if you’re currently lacking confidence. You can build confidence in the areas you want provided there’s effort involved. Even if you’re middle-aged and saying to yourself, I’m too old to learn this new process at this new company. Not true, it’s the belief itself that’s limiting you.

Here’s a formula to prove it:

Thoughts (A) + Action (B) = Neuroplasticity (C)

Before I dissect that formula, here’s an explanation of Neuroplasticity:

Inside you, there are trillions of neurons floating about. Those neurons form different connections with one another, the connections give rise to the experiences you have.

For example, when you first learned to tie your shoelace. You would have struggled because those neural connections related to tying your shoe weren’t there. Each attempt would have been easier and easier meaning those neural connections are starting to form. You don’t need to think about it anymore because those neural connections are fully formed and working automatically. You might go as far as saying, you’re confident tying your shoelaces.

Yes, this process still happens in adulthood too. It’s just a bit more challenging as the brain isn’t as plastic after age 25.

So let’s work through each component:

Thoughts (A):

For explanation purposes, the word ‘thoughts’ can be interchanged with the words stories, fears or limiting beliefs.

Identify the story you’re telling yourself that’s holding you back from going after what you want in life or your career. Bring awareness over the fear or limiting belief that’s keeping you stuck. Find the doubt and then create a new story or a new perspective that does serve your goals.

I spent years being scared to speak up in meetings. I was telling myself an outdated story that I had made up in my younger years. ‘I don’t fit in here’, ‘I’ll be laughed at if I speak up’, ‘It will sound stupid’, 'It's not important, everyone already knows' and on and on. Those stories were my neural connections/ patterns of thinking. And I let it run amuck until I faced it and did the work on it.

The same goes for quitting alcohol, I first had to smash the illusion that I needed alcohol to destress, socialise after work, go on dates, go to weddings, go on holidays and the list goes on. I grew up in a society where it was normalised and that became my belief system. So of course I struggled for a long time to quit due to the conflict between my soul saying stop drinking and my ego saying otherwise. I had to unlearn alcohol, create a new story for myself and trust it would work.

Whether you’re starting out doing presentations at work, learning a new process or trying to stop a bad habit, you’re placing your brain under strain. There will be agitation initially. That agitation or ‘limbic friction’ in scientific lingo terms is the entry point into neuroplasticity.

Action (B)

With your new and more beneficial story, take action. The more you practice what you’re trying to do, the more those new neural connections will strengthen. Even when I had addressed the outdated story holding me back from speaking publicly, I still wasn’t confident to do it. I had to practice. Practicing more in safer spaces like team meetings to start with, then project meetings, then presentations and now I’ll do it anywhere if it ticks the right boxes for me, my business and the audience I’m serving.

The same goes for alcohol, I worked my way up through the layers of difficulty. Dinner at a restaurant with Gill or arranging to meet a friend at the cafe instead of the pub. I practiced a range of lower-risk activities. Now I’ve since been on sunny holidays, travelled South America, been to weddings, been to stags and sat at many dinners with groups of people all without alcohol and without any craving. This may be hard to believe but I enjoy them more now. I even still have a boogie!

Neuroplasticity (C)

Following the relatively consistent work of A and B, you get C, Neuroplasticity. New neural connections forming/ new ways of thinking/ new experiences and one could say, Confidence. It's not an overnight process. There will be highs and lows. Patiently and kindly track your progress.

In saying that, it can also be considered an overnight process technically. Neuroplasticity doesn't occur during the thing we're practicing or learning, it occurs during deep sleep or deep resting states.


Now that you know, rest assured you are not doomed if you’re feeling a lack of confidence in an area of life or work. If you want to get better at something because it’s aligned with who you want to be and your values, keep trying and invest in other modalities of help to reach the desired level.

If you’re interested in exploring if one of my coaching programmes would suit your goals, feel free to get in contact by using the form below or book an introduction call to hear about a customised solution just for you.

Richie Kyriacou

Mindset, Career & Life Coach

Download Your FREE Confidence Kit on the homepage. The workbook and video were created to address the challenges of self-doubt, imposter syndrome and a lack of confidence.

Download your FREE copy by clicking 'Download Your FREE Confidence Kit' on the homepage


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