Understanding the Power of Believing in Yourself

Believe in yourself seems trite, but it’s true. In psychology there is a concept called “self-efficacy”. The term was coined by Albert Bandura (PDF), who described this as the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations . This would be like you, standing in front of a door, believing you can get to the other side bSo, yoecause all you have to do is turn the knob and pull the door open. You know the steps that go into the task — and in what order — so you believe you can very easily open the door and walk into a room.

Once you open the door, who knows what will happen. Soon, you start to develop other beliefs about what you are capable of. Studies on self-efficacy have shown  that people with a strong sense of self-efficacy:

  • Desktop wallpaper inspiration from Just Julie Ann.
    Desktop wallpaper inspiration from Just Julie Ann.

    View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered

  • Develop deeper interest in the activities in which they participate
  • Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities
  • Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments

Other other hand, people with a weak sense of self-efficacy:

  • Avoid challenging tasks
  • Believe that difficult tasks and situations are beyond their capabilities
  • Focus on personal failings and negative outcomes
  • Quickly lose confidence in personal abilities

The thing is, this isn’t exactly a stable set belief. What if every door you try is locked and you don’t have a key? This belief in yourself, self-efficacy, changes based on a lot of moving parts in life. Everything from your childhood to what you did early this morning as you tumbled out of bed can impact your beliefs of how capable you are.

According to Bandura , there are four major sources of self-efficacy: Mastering experiences, social modelling, social persuasion, and psychological responses. Each one is present with conjunction with each other at different times of our lives, yet one aspect may impact us more than other. These are

Mastery Experiences

When you perform a task successfully, you feel good. When you perform a challenging task successfully you feel amazing. This reinforces the mindset and your belief in yourself. A sense of mastery is definitely positive reinforcement for your self-esteem and self-efficacy.

On the flip side? Failing to adequately deal with a task or challenge can undermine and weaken self-efficacy. We’ve all been there before with the negative self talk, and unfortunately when you’re already feeling a bit down, negative talk seems to be a lot stronger than it should.

Social Modeling

You know when you someone doing something and you think, “If they can do it… I can do it!” That’s a form of social modelling. Bandura noted  that, “Seeing people similar to oneself succeed by sustained effort raises observers’ beliefs that they too possess the capabilities master comparable activities to succeed.”

If that’s not a reason to stop attending every free webinar and grabbing up every free PDF in hopes of finding inspiration and some mythical secret sauce, I don’t know what is.

Social Persuasion

You’ve heard of being “psyched up” and “having a cheerleader”, right? These are both forms of being cheered on and allowing yourself to be persuaded that you can do something. Not such a bad idea considering Bandura also asserted that people could be persuaded to believe that they have the skills and capabilities to succeed.

Go on. Get on with your bad self.

Psychological Responses

But… we are humans in the end. Our own responses and emotional state of mind play important roles in self-efficacy. In any given situation your psychological response could change based on your mood, emotional state, physical presence, and stress levels — and that’s just as a base. This basically amounts to the first time you have a response to a situation, your brain carves a note in it. It’s up to you to do some reflective metacognition to think about what caused you to feel that way.

For example, if you’re going out with a friend for the first time and your nervous. Why? What makes it different from meeting a stranger when you’re already a couple of sheets to the wind?

Bandura notes “it is not the sheer intensity of emotional and physical reactions that is important but rather how they are perceived and interpreted.” Translation: The stronger you feel about something in the time, the more likely it will be to set that response as your default in the future. So do your best to maximise the happy and downplay the stress.

Your current self-efficacy level

What do you currently believe about yourself? Do you believe that you could take on the world? Below is a quick 10 question quiz I made based off of The General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE) . Fill it out honestly with the stars marking the following meaning:

1 = Not at all true 2 = Hardly true 3 = Moderately true 4 = Exactly true

Simply put, the higher your score, the higher your self-efficacy. However, if you would like personalised challenges to help you raise the belief you have in yourself, fill in your name and email. My team and I will give you personalised challenges to help — free. Why? Because we believe in the power of unstoppable people.

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Schwarzer, R., & Jerusalem, M. (1995). Generalized Self-Efficacy Scale. In Measures in health psychology: A user’s portfolio. Casual and control beliefs (pp. 35–37). NFER-NELSON.
Zimmerman, B. J. (2000). Self-Efficacy: An Essential Motive to Learn. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 82–91. https://doi.org/10.1006/ceps.1999.1016
Prochaska, J. O., & DiClemente, C. C. (1983). Stages and Processes of Self-Change of Smoking Toward An Integrative Model of Change. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 51(3), 390–395.
Maddox, J. E. (1983). Protection Motivation and Self-Efficacy: A Revised Theory of Fear Appeals and Attitude Changes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 19, 469–479.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: the exercise of control. W.H. Freeman.

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