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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

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

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

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

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Daniella Whyte

Psychology Researcher

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Last Updated on April 8, 2021

What Is Positive Thinking and How to Always Think Positive

What Is Positive Thinking and How to Always Think Positive

In order for you to change your life, you must first change the way you think. If you are new to self-improvement, this is something that you must understand. Looking back at the various figures who have made dramatic changes in their life, there was a point where they had to shift toward positive thinking.

This concept isn’t as simple as it looks on the surface. Much like any habit, there are particular ways to go about tapping into the power of positive thinking and to be thinking positively on a daily basis.

What Is Positive Thinking?

Positive thinking is precisely what it says. It’s a series of habits and thought patterns that make you see things in a more positive light. One common example is seeing the failures you experience as lessons and opportunities to grow.

Positive thinking encompasses a number of things and impacts our lives in big ways. Positive thinking can create changes such as:

  • The way you talk to people both online and in person.
  • The people you attract.
  • How you inspire and encourage other people both directly and indirectly.
  • Your productivity methods and overall working capabilities.
  • Your stress level and how you manage it.

From this description, you can say that thinking positive is much like a lifestyle. The more positive you are, the more good things will appear around you, even in situations where you experience setbacks or challenges.

Another way to look at positive thinking is the addition of good thinking habits replacing bad ones. For example, how many times have you said “I can’t do that task” or “I’ll never achieve this goal of mine”? By definition, thinking this way will guarantee that you’ll avoid that task and put less effort toward that goal. On the other hand, by thinking “I can do that task” or “Someday, I’ll achieve that goal,” you’ll be motivated to work towards those objectives.

How Does Positive Thinking Change Your Life?

For those who have been in the self-improvement world, you can tell from the points above how your life can be impacted. Things like improved productivity, being more approachable, and more can create ripple effects throughout your life.

Getting into more details, these things can translate to larger things in your life. Some changes that positive thinking will do to your life are things like:

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  • Being able to achieve goals consistently when you set them.
  • A dramatic change in your attitude.
  • Using money in a more intelligent manner to the point you’ll be earning more.
  • Having more like-minded friends.
  • Being more generous and kind to others.
  • Living a longer life.[1]

Positive thinking from this viewpoint can sound like it’s too good to be true, though this is no simple task. It’s not a matter of flipping a switch, and suddenly you’ve learned how to think positive. That said, these are good incentives to be working towards, and there is research behind these things being true.

How to Tackle Negative Thoughts

Another key aspect to positive thinking is that positive thinking isn’t about eliminating all negativity from your life[2]. Our lives do have negative events; you’ll make mistakes, fail, and have setbacks. However, it’s important that you strike a balance between being aware of reality and accepting your surroundings and thinking optimistically.

There is no right or wrong method to pick from, but being able to limit negative self-talk in various areas of your life comes down to a few simple techniques. Here are some examples.

Follow a Precise Guide to Cultivating a Positive Mindset

The guide involves looking for feedback, paying attention to your thought patterns, and rearranging them to accept negative emotions. Other guides will bring you through the process by getting you to believe you can change your attitude all the way to avoiding toxic positivity.

Learn About Your Thinking Style

Are you a logical thinker or an emotional one? Do you focus on the short-term or the long-term? Do you naturally sway toward the positive or the negative? Identifying all of these things can help you get a handle on how your mind naturally works before you go about changing it.

One way to tap into your thinking style is to learn about how you are motivated. Check out Lifehack’s Free Assessment: What’s Your Motivation Style? One you know your motivation style, you’ll begin to understand yourself and how you think on a daily basis.

Create a Curiosity Around Negative Thoughts

Looking at negative thoughts as something interesting instead of as something damaging is a good step toward giving them less power. When a negative thought comes around, try writing it down and contemplating it for a few moments.

Why did that thought come about, and why are you looking at that particular thing in a negative way? How can you change that thought into something positive?

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10 Simple Habits to Practice Positive Thinking

The methods mentioned above are ways to nullify the impact of negative thoughts. There will be times where you will still think negatively, but the impact will lessen. This is especially true when you incorporate various habits into your life to improve your positive thinking.

Here are some things to consider to help you cultivate a positive mindset.

1. Do One Act of Kindness Daily

Making someone smile has as much of an impact on them as it does for you. Doing good things feels good, which is why many of us feel compelled to make donations to non-profit organizations. The act of charity warms our hearts.

But you can make more of an impact by doing something nice for someone else. Smile and say hello to someone, give someone a compliment, or help them out in a small way if you see them having issues.

2. Laugh More

Along a similar vein, positive emotions cause us to shift our attitude, and laughter is another big one to consider. Laughter shouldn’t be forced though, so make a point of being around people who can make you genuinely laugh. This can be a comedian, a friend or family member, or anyone who can get you to chuckle.

3. Read More Positive Material

Our social media diet is one of the largest influencers of our mood. That, along with television or other video content. If you’re watching or reading content that makes you angry, negative, or hateful, that behavior is going to project onto everything else you do and get in the way of positive thinking.

To change that, you must change how you are consuming content and what you gravitate toward. Make a point of reading some positive news and developments. Another option is to read or watch videos that focus on things that you’re passionate about.

4. Set Goals

Another solid method is to set goals and work to achieve them. This can tackle a lot of negative thoughts as people often set goals and give up due to negative thoughts most of the time.

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Setting goals and striving to achieve them on a regular basis allows you to build the framework to overcome those negative thought hurdles. You’ll eventually stop making excuses and focus on the task at hand.

5. Have a Strong Morning Ritual

In general, what you do first thing in the morning determines the energy you put toward the rest of your day. We all have our usual routine in the morning, and many times that routine doesn’t put people in a space that’s conducive to positive thinking.

My recommendation is to mix up your morning ritual to include some positive things. Examples are doing some exercises, showing yourself some self-love through gratitude and positive affirmations, or maybe doing something you enjoy, such as completing a puzzle or writing a poem.

6. Ask the Proper Questions

Negativity is something that we have to accept, but how we change the impact of it can be through questions. The catch is that you need to be asking the right kind of questions first.

For example, if you’re a pessimist, the questions you’ll be asking yourself are negative. “Why did this happen to me?” “Why do bad things happen to me whenever I try something?” These are negative because you’re painting yourself as a victim, and it does nothing for your mindset but slow you down.

Instead, start asking questions like:

  • What’s one good thing about this situation?
  • What is it that I can learn from these events and circumstances?
  • What is one small thing I can do right now to start fixing this?

By asking these questions, you’ll start to give your brain some tasks to ponder over to solve this situation and gain something from these experiences.

7. Create a Positive Environment

Consuming positive content is one way of creating a positive environment, but there are other things that can influence it. In general, creating an environment where you can be positive is key to development. This means:

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  • Do the things that bring joy and energy into your life.
  • Be around positive people who lift you up.
  • Continue to strengthen that environment by reinforcing standards for what’s acceptable for you and what isn’t.

8. Meditate

Meditation is another morning activity to consider and one to do overall if you want to practice positive thinking. Meditation provides a number of benefits when done on a regular basis.

Meditation provides you with an opportunity to look inside yourself and see what makes you tick. It helps you to look at thought patterns and to begin rearranging them. It’s a powerful method because it adds perspective to who you really are and what you truly think[3].

From there you can make drastic changes by simply meditating.

9. Write Down Your Thoughts and Tackle the Issues

Similar to meditating, consider jotting down the thoughts that come to mind whenever you feel stressed. During these periods, you’ll see that when you’re stressed, you’ll be writing down things that cause you to feel stressed. It could be something extreme, or it could be a series of small things you need to do that have piled up.

The idea is to write out those thoughts and the next day begin working on fixing those problems to make room for a more positive outlook.

10. Read Positive Thinking Books

The last method to boosting positive thinking is to be reading more books on the subject. Positive thinking is a subject that has been researched heavily, and there is a lot of information on it. You’ll find a lot of it overlapping or having similar elements, but it doesn’t hurt to pick up a few books and read what the author has to say on the subject.

While reading articles is great, a book has more room to add more details and perspectives that aren’t otherwise there when reading an article.

Final Thoughts

Positive thinking is not something that can be done overnight. It’s something that takes time as it involves rewiring your very way of thinking and reinforcing habits. It’s not an easy path, but it can lead to many avenues opening up to you in various ways. The road to success and to great change is through a positive and developing mindset for better physical and mental health.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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