On Thursday September 21, Louisa Jewell launched her new book, Wire Your Brain for Confidence: The Science of Conquering Self-Doubt. She has delivered a brilliant tour de force.
“Once you rewire your brain, it feels like the canoe you have been paddling upstream with so much effort has been turned around to float freely with the direction of the river. When you wire your brain for confidence, there is little resistance toward big, scary goals.” – Louisa Jewell
Louisa Jewell is articulate, down to earth, generous, and funny. She is also the founder of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association (CPPA), a scholar, a successful organizational consultant, a businesswoman, a speaker, a loving mother, a cherished friend, and a great storyteller.
In her abundant, practical, and well-researched book about confidence, Louisa weaves together the science of positive psychology, self-efficacy, self-determination theory, and neuropsychology in an engaging, easy to understand manner.Louisa describes surmounting personal tragedy with assurance. She exposes her own vulnerability as she chronicles her trajectory overcoming her own self-doubts to rise as a flourishing international leader in the science of applied positive psychology.
Louisa cites leading-edge research. She has interviewed positive psychology thought leaders in both research and practice, including Dr. Kate Hefferon and Dr. Carol Dweck. Louisa explains Dweck’s The Power of “Yet” (page 203), shares helpful “Confidence Habits” (pages 208, 224), and gives the reader a handy, compelling exercise titled, “How to Eliminate ‘Should’ From Your Life.”
Disclosure: I had the pleasure of meeting Louisa in 2009 when she entered the University of Pennsylvania MAPP program, and I was a new MAPP graduate. Over the years since then, I have been honored to call Louisa, my colleague and friend. I have seen the confidence that she describes grow and blossom in her life. She lives what she describes.
Self-Determination Theory: Relatedness, Autonomy, Competence
Louisa presents theories and research around building confidence in a masterful manner. I study motivation. I found Louisa’s illuminating descriptions around Richard Ryan and Edward Deci’s Self-Determination Theory (SDT), perfectly on target. Louisa describes SDT about how “humans are driven by three psychological needs that contribute to intrinsic motivation, a heliotropic effect, and are essential for growth and well-being, just like sun, water, and soil are essential for plants to function optimally.” The descriptions below are her section headers:
- Relatedness: The universal need to interact, be connected to, and experience caring for others
- Autonomy: The universal urge to be in control of one’s own life and act in harmony with what is important to oneself
- Competence: A need to control the outcome of our actions and experience mastery
Louisa explains that people often identify fear of failure as a strong demotivator, but if you dig a little deeper, it’s failing in plain sight of other people that is the real fear. Initially researchers believed self-doubt was internally driven. She shares current research suggesting self-doubt is inherently a social phenomenon, emerging from our concerns about social disapproval and the potential of being evaluated negatively by our peers and family. Fear of social evaluation and disapproval may discourage us from engaging in behaviors that will allow us to fulfill our dreams.
What’s in the Mix: Louisa’s Formula for Confidence
Louisa shares a powerful formula for confidence based on the science of applied positive psychology and her lived experiences. Louisa urges us to conquer doubt and to honor our worth. Further, she promotes a legacy of goodness, practicality, and wisdom, which is encouraging, especially for women. Louisa cares about us, her readers, and is cheering us on throughout the book. She is also raising the barre by giving exercises on how to live with greater confidence, intuition, wisdom, and creativity. She reminds us not to fear shining brightly, nor dim our own lights. She also offers a bit of tough love around receiving feedback, explaining “when you don’t take things personally, you are more likely to just get back up and keep trying.”Confidence to Lift Up Women and Our Humanity
Louisa addresses the bias, degradation, inequality, and lack of safety that affect women’s lives today. Her book can be a valuable tool in education, therapy, business, and personal help. Louisa offers the “juice:” research and resources that can take us on a journey toward creating a better understanding of ourselves and thus embodying self-assurance.
The research, skills, and tools in Louisa Jewell’s book will go a long way toward helping her readers shine.
Jewell, L. (2017). Wire Your Brain for Confidence: The Science of Conquering Self-Doubt. Famous Warrior Press.
Dweck, C. (2007). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine Books.
Hefferon, K. (2013). Positive Psychology and the Body: The Somato-Psychic Side to Flourishing. Open University Press.
Ryan, R. M. & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78.
Photo credits: Photos provided by the author and by Louisa Jewell (signing photo).