Confidence Can Actually Keep Stress Away

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In The Power of Agency, Dr. Paul Napper and Anthony Rao tell us:

“When we set out to write this book, we were struck by one thing above all. We observed the link between people’s general confidence and their ability to meet significant challenges. It seemed that those who were confident more of the time–that is, they were feeling more in charge of their lives and connected to their sense of agency–reported less anxiety and overwhelm, even when they were placed under highly challenging pressure situations. For us, this was a eureka moment. It wasn’t just that less anxious people felt more confident but that confidence itself fended off anxiety and moments of overwhelm. There is a biological parallel here. The sympathetic nervous system (which ignites fear and aggression when the brain perceives threat) and the parasympathetic nervous system (which returns the mind and body to calm and homeostasis) work in this seesaw way. The breakthrough idea we had is this: instead of trying to lower people’s worry or anxiousness (as many practitioners now do with pills and therapies), we attack it from the other end. We encourage a confidence that can actually help keep stress away. And we do it by figuring out what empowers people, what gives people greater capacity to cope and adapt, and nurturing that. Our theory was that the resulting confidence would neutralize–or at least keep at bay–the negative emotions that so often drag people down.”

This idea is fire! Instead of lowering our stress and worries, we can attack it from the other direction. We can build indestructible confidence in ourselves to help keep stress away.

There are many ways to accomplish this, but we can talk about two for now.

One is the 2nd law of leadership by Kouzes & Posner. You need to do what you say you will do to build trust with others and yourself (DWYSYWD).

Two is anything that builds self-efficacy, such as mastery experiences, vicarious learning, physiology, social persuasion, advice, self-compassion, and stories.