When you come across a challenging situation, how do you react?
Do you feel confident that you can eventually figure out a way to accomplish it?
Or do you feel intimidated and want to throw in the towel without even trying?
Your answer lies in how much self-efficacy you possess.
Self-efficacy is defined as a person’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation. It may be a general kind (i.e. Your overall faith in yourself) or be more specific (i.e. Academic, parenting, or sports).
Self-efficacy is related to but NOT the same as the following concepts:
Self-efficacy and self-esteem.
Self-esteem is defined as a general or overall feeling of one’s worth or value. It is focused more on “being” (i.e. the feeling that you are perfectly acceptable as you are), while self-efficacy is more focused on “doing” (i.e. the feeling that you are up for a challenge).
Having high self-worth can definitely improve your sense of self-efficacy, while high self-efficacy can contribute to your overall value or worth.
Self-efficacy and self-regulation.
Self-regulation involves controlling your behavior, emotions, and thoughts on the pursuit of long-term goals. In short, it is a strategy for achieving your goals, while self-efficacy is the belief that you can accomplish those goals.
Self-efficacy and motivation
The former is based on your belief in your capacity to achieve something, while the latter is your desire to achieve it. Those with high self-efficacy often have high motivation and vice versa, though it is not always the case.
Self-efficacy and resilience.
Resilience is our capability to recover quickly from difficulties. People with a high level of efficacy are more likely to try again after encountering failure, thereby increasing their resilience.
Self-efficacy and confidence
In his book “Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control” Canadian-American psychologist and one of the world’s leading experts on self-efficacy Albert Bandura defines “confidence” as “a non-descript term that refers to strength of belief but does not necessarily specify what the certainty is about.” On the other hand, self-efficacy is more specific — it is the certainty that one can deal with any situation handed to them. Someone who is highly confident in his abilities will be more likely to succeed, thereby providing him with experiences to develop his self-efficacy. This high self-efficacy, in turn, gives him more confidence in himself.
Self-efficacy and mental health
According to Dr. Bandura, “a person’s self-efficacy influences what coping behavior he will utilize when he encounters stress and challenges, along with determining how much effort will be expended to reach one’s goals and for how long those goals will be pursued.” He adds that people with a strong sense of self-efficacy remain optimistic and confident in their abilities even when things become difficult. They treat problems as challenges rather than threats, and if they fail, they redouble their efforts and look for new ways to succeed. They also tend to be more interested in the tasks they pursue.
On the other hand, Dr. Bandura says that those who are low in self-efficacy tend to avoid difficult tasks and set goals, and have low levels of commitment to the ones they do make. When setbacks happen, they tend to give up quickly. Stressful situations become hard to deal with and they are more likely to experience feelings of failure and despondency.
How to develop self-efficacy
You can improve your sense of self-efficacy by learning how to minimize stress and elevate your mood when faced with challenging tasks. Below are some ways:
According to Dr. Bandura, vicarious experiences obtained through peer modelling is an important way to establish and strengthen self-efficacy. Keep company with people who have high self-efficacy so that when you see them putting in effort and succeeding, you increase your belief in your own ability to succeed as well.
Seek positive affirmations.
Hearing constructive criticism or positive feedback from others can boost your confidence in your abilities and help improve your sense of self-efficacy. In this regard, avoid asking feedback from people who you know are more likely to have a negative or critical view of your performance.
Pay attention to your thoughts and emotions.
Do you find yourself getting stressed out or nervous before a challenging event?
Do negative thoughts enter your mind when you struggle to accomplish something?
If yes, you might feel less sure of your ability to cope with the task at hand. Look for ways to ease your stress levels so that you feel more confident; also, replace negative thoughts with positive self-talk to promote self-belief
Because life is full of stressful moments and challenges, having a high level of self-efficacy can help you deal with these difficulties more effectively. Your belief in your abilities can influence your motivations, the amount of effort you will put into accomplishing your goals, and your personal sense of well-being.
Written by Jacq of Mindnation