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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

You Can If You Think You Can: 4 Ways to Build Self-Efficacy

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You Can If You Think You Can: 4 Ways to Build Self-Efficacy

When you face an obstacle or a setback, do you sit back, throw your hands up, and cease to fight for your goals or do you rise to the challenge that has come your way? Are you like the little engine that could constantly telling yourself, “I think I can, I think I can!” or do you allow self-doubt to control you? Do you persevere through difficulty believing that something is better on the other side or do you feel you are incapable of achieving success?

“They are able because they think they are able.” — Virgil

Questions like these are central to our understanding of self-efficacy. Who we become and what we accomplish in life are largely a result of what we choose to believe in regards to our ability.

Pop psychology teaches that belief in one’s self matters. However, it is not just a statement randomly applied in self-help books and pep talks. Psychologist Albert Bandura in his social cognitive theory, defined self-efficacy as the belief a person has in his ability to succeed at a task or to achieve a goal.[1]

Believe in Your Ability

According to Bandura, our attitudes, cognition, beliefs, and abilities are central to the system of the self. This self-system helps to determine how we perceive situations and other people. It also helps us to perceive how we will behave, respond, or react to these different situations. Self-efficacy then is a part of this system in that it is our belief in our abilities to take a certain course of action in order to reach a desired result or goal.

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Since Bandura published his groundbreaking discovery in the form of the paper, Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change,[2] the subject has become highly studied and used among psychologists and educators as a way to demonstrate its impact on mental states, behavioral process, and even human motivation.

All people have a goal or dream they want to achieve in life, but “easier said than done” as they say. Self-efficacy shows how we are able to achieve these goals.

Make the Effort

Self-efficacy affects behavior choices, motivation, thought patterns, situational responses, choices in behavior, productivity at work or in academics,[3] as well as one’s idea about destiny.

People with a high level of self-efficacy view challenges and problems as opportunities to learn and grow whereas people with a low level of self-efficacy aim to avoid problems. Those with a high level of self-efficacy are confident in their ability to achieve while those with a low level of self-efficacy lack a good deal of confidence, are unsure of themselves, and doubt their abilities.

People with a high level of self-efficacy are more likely to make an effort to complete a project and persist through until it is finalized than those with a low level of self-efficacy. Bandar also believed that self-efficacy has a strong correlation to one’s worldview as well.

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People with a high level of self-efficacy believe that they are in control of their lives and that their own choices and action determine the outcome of their lives. On the other hand, people with a low level of self-efficacy see their lives as outside of their control, in the hands of someone else, or completely uncontrollable by anyone.

While we stop growing physically and over time, some of our beliefs come set in concrete, self-efficacy does not really end. It evolves throughout the various stages of life. Recently in a developmental psychology, we discussed self-efficacy and how it can be developed in our lives. Here are 4 ways we can build our level of self-efficacy for greater achievement:

1. Build One Success on Top of Another

All successful people started out small. Don’t despise the small success, the small achievements or accomplishments. These set the foundation for what is to come next.

Success is not automatic. It begins with the belief that you can be and then taking one small step at a time to get there. Every little task you are faced with, mastery its process, do it to the best of you ability and allow yourself to grow with it no matter how difficult it is.

2. Observe the Endurance and Success of Other People

Watching other people complete a task or reach a goal successfully is an important point of self-efficacy and also serves subtly as a motivator. You’ll think to yourself, “If he can do it, so can I” or “If she can get there from where she was, so can I.”

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Seeing other people’s success through effort raises the belief in ourselves that we too can make an effort to succeed as well.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Believe You Can Succeed

Social persuasion is powerful. Surround yourself with people who believe you can succeed.

There are some people who will even persuade you to believe that you are capable of succeeding. Sometimes, they come in the form of a parent, a coach, a teacher, a mentor, or even a close friends.

Verbal affirmation from other people can help in overcoming self-doubt and focusing on putting your best foot forward.

4. Work Through Your Own Psychological Responses

Our own responses and reactions to situations are developed largely by unseen psychological processes. Emotional states, stress levels, and moods impact how we view ourselves and what we believe about our abilities.

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By learning how to minimize stress (not by avoiding the situation or challenge) and increase mood to a positive level, you can improve your level of self-efficacy.

“Ability is what gives you the opportunity; belief is what gets you there.” — Apollo

Research has shown that self-efficacy is a much stronger predictor of outcomes in behavior and achievement than other aspects of motivation. My professor in development psychology, Dr. Chad Magnuson said,

“Success is not just a matter of capability, but really a matter of how capable we think we are.”

More Tips About Building Self-Worth

Featured photo credit: Ricardas Brogys via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Albert Bandura, Stanford University: Self Efficacy
[2] Albert Bandura, Stanford University: Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change
[3] Teach the Earth: Self-Efficacy: Helping Students Believe in Themselves

More by this author

Daniella Whyte

Psychology Researcher

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Last Updated on November 19, 2021

25 Signs That You’re A Mentally Strong Person

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25 Signs That You’re A Mentally Strong Person

I am not ashamed to admit that I am a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The episode that always comes to mind is when Wesley Crusher had just missed getting into Star Fleet Academy. Captain Picard consoles him by telling him the real measure of a man is what he learns from his mistakes.

If you look at real-life historical figures, there are many examples of those that exhibit mental toughness. One that stands out is Teddy Roosevelt. His words and deeds tell the true character he possessed.

Teddy Roosevelt. Captain Picard. Examples in fiction and nonfiction of inner strength and fortitude. But many people may not look at themselves as a mentally strong person. We are often our  harshest critics and do not realize what kind of strengths we possess. Here are 25 signs that show you have nerves of steel:

1. You don’t yell or become easily angry.

Even in the harshest stress factors, you choose to stay calm and you try to handle situations smoothly. You feel that by raising your voice, you’re lowering yourself.

2. You are open to feedback.

You are not afraid to voice your opinion; neither are you afraid to take other’s opinions or feedback, whether they’re negative or positive. You rather welcome it so you can learn.

3. You apologize when necessary.

You know well when you’ve made a mistake and you apologize, not worrying about losing face. You are aware that by apologizing, you’ll be the bigger person.

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4. You are willing to adjust to bring improvement.

Being a mentally strong person, you’re adaptable to change. You know that change is good for whatever condition you’re in.

5. You don’t limit your thoughts to just superficial matters

You don’t just see things as they are. You look deep into matters and you read into things before drawing a conclusion.

6. You refrain from expectations on others.

You don’t expect anything in return when you go the extra mile for someone. You have always been selfless.

7. You know how to set boundaries to keep things in perspective.

You don’t let others cross the limits you’ve set, and you let others know about those limits politely yet firmly.

8. You are open to receiving help.

You are well aware of the areas you’re weak in and you are not afraid to ask for help from others. You know that by doing so, you’re only learning.

9. You are not co-dependent.

You are just not the kind who relies on others emotionally or just to get things done. By doing so, you maintain a healthy relationship both personally and professionally.

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10. You follow your instincts.

You believe in gaining experiences, because of which you learn to follow your instincts to guide your judgment.

11. You forgive yourself.

It’s hard to move on if you don’t let go, and this is one of the things you’ve learned over the years. So you forgive yourself when you make a mistake and leave the past where it belongs instead of dwelling on it.

12. You understand your limitations.

You have certain limits that you’ve established for yourself and you’ve embraced them because you know well that that is who you are.

13. You understand that conflict can bring resolution to a problem.

You know that holding grudges has never been a solution to problems, nor has anyone achieved anything out of it. So you think of a solution, instead.

14. You avoid procrastination.

You prefer to finish the task at hand before moving to the next one. Although procrastination sounds appealing, it only keeps piling up work.

15. You take negativity with grain of salt.

You’ve hardly ever made assumptions without first being fully aware of the situation. You avoid believing in the negative stuff that you’ve been told, as much as you can.

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16. You are responsible in financial matters.

You, in general are a wise person. You don’t only make decisions wisely; you also avoid spending money foolishly.

17. You know that persistence pays off.

You have a strong will power which doesn’t let you give up on things you really want. You keep persisting until you know success is at your doorstep.

18. You find ways around any obstacle.

You keep trying and you don’t stop until you’ve achieved that target. Giving up just isn’t your thing, but looking for alternatives is.

19. You are always looking for ways to improve yourself.

You often feel that you can do better and that there’s always room for improvement, because you embraced the fact that no one is perfect a long time back.

20. You take action in maintaining your health.

If you’re not healthy, you’re not wealthy and wise — and that you’re motto. So you try to eat, sleep, drink and breathe healthy as much as is possible for you.

21. You try new things outside your comfort zone.

It’s not as if you get bored easily but staying put gives you no exposure nor do you learn. You move outside that comfort zone to experience change and fun along with it.

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22. You do not blame circumstances on extrinsic things.

You take everything into consideration and you know that blaming something that’s beyond your control is useless and silly.

23. You use your time wisely.

Going around wasting your time is a big “NO” for you. So you choose to spend that time productively so that others along with you can benefit.

24. You let others take the lead.

You know how things are done so you sit back, relax and others take the lead while you enjoy. You do try to give them your full support, though, if they need it.

25. You remain calm and clear of thought during a crisis.

Good result of anything comes out when it’s done with a peaceful and a calm mind. So even in a crisis situation, you try your best to remain calm.

Life is full of challenges that must be dealt with. The ability to deal with these challenges requires some degree of mental toughness. The types of stress in daily life can vary. Things happen, from missing a credit card payment to dealing with death in the family. Everyone also deals with problems in a different capacity.

Some may question whether they have any mental toughness in them. Certain people have ice in their veins, while others are ready to run at a moment’s notice. If you feel you are someone who lacks being a mentally strong person, train yourself to be. Read about people whose actions you admire.

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Study those that dealt with adversity and created change. Learn how to use that for positive change in your own life.

Featured photo credit: Louish Pixel via flickr.com

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