- ‘Deciphering’ Self-Confidence: How Hormones Influence Our Behavior?
‘Deciphering’ Self-Confidence: How Hormones Influence Our Behavior?
You have sometimes probably intuitively knew that a person’s confidence – and more generally personality – depended on their hormonal mix.
Confidence can broadly be defined as what propels you to action: a lack of debilitating self-doubt and paralyzing anxiety, a sufficient level of optimism as to the success of your actions, and a positive self-assessment that leads you to believe you can do something.
Confidence obviously depends on a wide range of environmental factors, in particular education. To a large extent, one can be taught to think positively about oneself, which is why the role of parents can never be understated.
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However, education cannot explain everything. Why does one person’s level of confidence fluctuate so much overtime sometimes without any apparent reason? Why are there such dramatically different personalities among sibs who receive roughly the same education? (Yes, of course, birth order is critical too).
Role of Hormones for Self-Confidence
You’ve probably often noticed your own level of confidence was radically different depending on how much you had slept, what you had eaten, the events of the day, how much sports you had practiced during the day, etc.
It naturally led lots of scientists to become interested in the role of hormones. There are numerous hormones that can be said to affect confidence: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, endorphins, testosterone… and it appears there are a number of neurotransmitters that play a critical role in working as positive messengers in our brain.
This essential trait of our personalities – confidence – is at least partly determined by our DNA:
The OXTR gene controls the delivery of oxytocin. This “cuddle hormone” that women are bathed in when they give birth is apparently one key component of self-confidence. One version of the gene can lead to low optimism and low self-esteem. (The good news is we can generate new supplies of oxytocin by hugging more and by having sex).
The COMT gene regulates dopamine levels. Dopamine is said to inspire action, curiosity, and risk-taking. An absence of dopamine is associated with passivity, apathy, and depression.
The SLC6A4 gene is the serotonin transporter gene. Serotonin is also critical in confidence. Our mood and behavior are strongly affected by it. The more of it we have, the happier we feel. Prozac was invented to boost our serotonin levels. The gene regulates our serotonin levels by recycling it through our system.
A number of other genes could play a role in confidence, but as few as three or four could really determine a large chunk of it. When dopamine, which gets us moving, is commingled with serotonin, which induces calm thought, and oxytocin, which generates warm and positive attitudes toward others, confidence can much more easily take hold.
The idea that biology determines our personality should not lead us to think we can do nothing about it. Knowing you are genetically more likely to develop Alzheimer’s should lead you to pay more attention to risk factors and create a suitable environment to fight biological determination. And let’s not forget that our genetics is affected by the environment, by our very lives. We can modify our genetics over time! (That’s called epigenetics.)
So, summing up the mentioned above facts, let’s consider the following.
3 Hormones Your Emotions Rely On
Stay in the self-care flow with these neuro-nurturing tips:
The Love Hormone: Oxytocin
The awesome thing about oxytocin? It reduces fear!
Produced by the hypothalamus and stored in the pituitary, oxytocin is the love hormone – just looking deeply into your lover’s eyes can signal its release. Commonly recognized as a bonding hormone new mothers produce, we can thank oxytocin for helping usher in awesome orgasms. Not only has oxytocin been observed to play a role in sexual arousal for women and men, but it has also been reported to play a significant role in wound healing by reducing the inflammatory response.
When oxytocin levels are in good shape, your self-confidence may be up or you may find yourself feeling more connected to others.
If you experience food sensitivities and allergies, autoimmune issues, or systemic candida (an overgrowth of yeast), poor oxytocin levels could be contributing – and messing with your emotions.
The Motivator: Dopamine
Always motivated, goal-oriented, super self-confident, and happy as can be? Scientific evidence says your dopamine levels are behind this momentum. Dopamine is responsible for the elated, excited feelings we experience when we reach a goal. When we meet someone new, high levels of dopamine explain our intense attraction and the falling-in-love effect.
If you experience low libido, fatigue, sleep difficulties, low self-esteem, and an inability to feel pleasure, you may be experiencing low dopamine levels.
The Self-Nurturer: Serotonin
Perhaps the yin to dopamine’s yang, serotonin is the even-keel; it’s a neurotransmitter that helps lead intuition and keeps us grounded in our decisions. Said to drive “gut feelings,” a majority of serotonin is produced in the gut. When digestion is off, serotonin can take a major nose dive resulting in feelings of self-disconnectedness. Yet when in the most ideal range, serotonin helps provide a reassuring sense of self-confidence and improved calm.
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