Confidence and Self Efficacy – How to find it again
Self-Efficacy and why believing in yourself matters.
When you face a challenge, do you rise and accomplish your goal or do you give up and feel defeated?
Do you push the on switch and rocket forward, or do you doubt your abilities to be able to overcome difficulties?
Self-Efficacy is your ability to believe in your abilities to deal with various situations. It can play a role not only in how you feel about yourself but also in whether you are successful in achieving your goals or not.
The science bit – Self-efficacy is central to physiologist Albert Bandura’s (social cognitive theory) which emphasizes the role of observational theory, social experience and reciprocal determination in developing a personality.
According to Bandura a person’s attitudes, abilities, and cognitive skills comprise of what is known as the self-system. The system plays a major role in how we perceive situations and how we behave in response to situations, self-efficacy is an essential part of our self-system.
Virtually all people can identify goals they want to accomplish, or in the Menopause things they would like to change, and things they would like to achieve.
However, most people realise that putting these plans into action is not quite so simple. Bandura and others have found that an individual’s self-efficacy plays a major role in how goals, tasks and challenges are approached.
People who have a strong sense of self-efficacy
- View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered.
- Develop deeper interest in the activities required to master the problem.
- Form a strong sense of commitment to their interests and activities.
- Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments.
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.
So how does self-efficacy develop?
These beliefs tend to form in early childhood. This is because we have to deal with a wide variety of experiences tasks and situations.
For example, learning to ride a bike if our friends were riding around the streets on two wheels whilst we were struggling on four.
However, the growth of self-efficacy does not end during youth but continues to be acquired through life as we learn and develop new skills.
According to Bandura, there are four major sources of self-efficacy.
Performing a task successfully strengthens our sense of self-efficacy. However, failing to adequately deal with a task can undermine or weaken self-efficacy.
Witnessing other people completing a task is another important source of self-efficacy. According to Bandura “Seeking people similar to oneself succeed by sustained efforts raises observer’s benefits that they too possess the capabilities to master comparable activities to succeed.” – Find role models.
Bandura also believes that people could be persuaded to believe that they have the skills and capabilities to succeed. Consider a time when someone said something positive and encouraging that helped you achieve your goals. Getting verbal encouragement helps people overcome self-doubt and instead of giving their best effort at the task in hand.
Our responses and emotional reactions to situations also play an important role in self-efficacy, moods and emotional state, physical reactions and stress levels can all impact how a person feels about those personal abilities in a particular situation. A person who becomes very nervous before speaking in public may develop a weak sense of self-efficacy in these situations.
By learning how to minimise stress and elevate mood when facing difficult or challenging tasks people can improve their sense of self-efficacy.
Examples of High Self-efficacy include:-
- A student who feels confident that she will be able to learn the information and do well on a test.
- A woman who just accepted a job position in a role who has never performed before but feels that she can learn and perform her job well.
- A man who is struggling to manage his chronic illness and feels confident that he can get back on track and improve his health by working hard and following his doctor’s recommendations.
Self-efficacy can play an important role in Health and Physiology and how people manage that health, nutrition and illness. For example, people who have a high self-efficacy will be able to give up smoking easier, maintain a weight loss plan, manage chronic pain, give up alcohol and stick to an exercise schedule.
Bandura suggests that self-efficacy can benefit a person’s sense of well-being in several ways.
Because individuals with high self-efficacy look at difficulties as challenges rather than threats they tend to be more intrinsically interested in the tasks they peruse. Difficulties and failure don’t mean defeat, instead, these individuals redouble that effort and look for new ways to overcome.
They remain optimistic and confident in their abilities even when things become tough.
People with low self-efficacy tend to see tasks as just that and so give up a lot easier. They don’t have the confidence in their ability to achieve. They are more likely to experience failure and depression.
Stressful situations can also be very hard to deal with and those with low self-efficacy are less resilient and likely to bounce back.
So how can we build self-efficacy?
Fortunately, self-efficacy is a physiological skill that can be strengthened.
Start by looking at ways that you can incorporate building a sense of self –efficacy in your life.
Celebrate your success…
The single most effective way to create a sense of self-belief is to have successes at something. You are then able to build a powerful belief in your ability.
Failure, on the other hand, can undermine these feelings in particularly if you are still in the early phase of building a sense of personal efficacy.
The ideal sort of success, however, are not necessarily those that come easily. If you experienced a lot of success you may find yourself giving up more readily when you do encounter failure.
So work on setting goals that are achievable but aren’t necessarily easy. They will take work and perseverance, but you will emerge with a stronger belief in your abilities once you achieve them.
Bandura also identified experiences obtained through pear modelling as another important means of establishing and strengthening self-efficacy.
Seeing others putting in the effort and succeeding, as a result, can increase you believing in your ability to succeed. One factor that plays a key role in the effectiveness of this approach is how similar the model is to yourself. The more alike you feel you are the more likely it is that your observations will increase your sense of self-efficacy.
Seek positive affirmations…
Hearing positive feedback from others can also help improve your sense of self-efficacy. By that same token try to avoid asking for feedback from people who you know are more likely to have a negative or critical view of your performance.
For example feedback from your doctor telling you that you are doing a great job of sticking to a diet plan can be encouraging. Positive social feedback can help strengthen your existing sense of efficacy but negative comments can also have an undermining effect.
6 Reasons why your confidence feels low…
Your diet is poor
You feel how you eat when you’re constantly binging on starchy foods and sugars your gut suffers and can become inflamed forcing your body to overwork and become tired and exhausted.
Being too tired is a common reason your confidence might feel low. You need that energy from food to feel positive, enough to feel enthusiastic about smiling, laughing and socialising.
Think about how you feel after consuming a large bowl of pasta or a pizza. Do you feel bloated and sluggish like all of the energy has been zapped out of you? Or if there is no food around do you start to feel hangry and want to grab the first thing available just to get over the craving?
Foods have a massive influence on how we feel and this doesn’t only affect our outward mood it affects our internal functions. That’s because the food we eat affects the neurotransmitters our brains produce. These are brain chemicals that affect the way we feel. Serotonin helps us relax and dopamine makes us alert.
That’s why it’s so important to eat a balanced diet as we can be prone to mood swings if we do not.
So which foods are helpful?
Foods such as salmon, avocado boost our moods as they contain omega 3 fatty acids.
10 Foods to avoid
- Sweeteners that you drizzle over food. Swap this for Manuka honey.
- Alcohol – It triggers the brain to produce hormones that increase stress and anxiety. It is also a suppressant that reduces serotonin – The feel-good hormone.
- Added sugar and artificial sweeteners. Try adding honey or stevia instead. And watch out for those low-fat items such as yoghurt as they may contain added sugar.
- This is usually produced with fats that can increase inflammation and have high omega 6 fatty acids which blot out omega e3 fatty acids(natural mood enhancer)
- Coffee is a stimulant – caffeine which alters our mood by impacting our hormones. (Try green tea instead)
- Cocktail mixers – packed full of sugar. (Even some flavoured gins contain additional sugar)
- Deli Meets – processed and packed with fillers such as water, sugar and salt. This can affect headaches swollen ankles and mood swings. Always try and buy organic.
- Egg whites – when you eliminate the yolk you eliminate most of the goods mood-enhancing benefits. Eggs are full of nutrients. The protein, B Vitamins which support brain health.
- Non-organic fruit and veg. This is sprayed with pesticides which have been found to affect our mental health.
- Salted nuts and seeds.
You are being anti-social
Connecting with others is important for our mental health. Decide that being confident is important to you and to build confidence we need to step outside our comfort zone. If we struggle with social anxiety maybe go and see a therapist, CBT or start with small groups. Maybe to join a new class. Do something that interests you such as pottery, knitting, dressmaking.
If you have struggled with a break-up, or kids have left home, or they don’t seem bothered about you anymore then push yourself to go and see a friend, relative etc. Investing in positive relationships will make you feel more confident.
Hormonal balance – The menopause
When our hormones are out of source we feel tired, irritated and have low mood.
You’re stuck on jealousy.
Jealousy they say is a normal human emotion. The only problem is when you can’t deal with it healthily. When you allow jealousy to feed your fear of not being good enough your confidence will hit a low. Instead, focus on nurturing your talents and hobbies to empower your self-esteem.
Ultimately you don’t need to be the best at everything you only need to be the best version of you.
You need new goals
By chasing your deepest desires you will feel excited about your future and being more successful. It is so easy for us to get into a rut and allow certain circumstances to control our futures. I know that I have fallen into this trap on many occasions. And I have also had many ideas’s about what I really wanted to do yet have very rarely followed them through. But I do know that during the times when I have the amount of satisfaction I have felt has been so rewarding. So I am encouraging you to write down your goals no matter how small they are, and make sure that you achieve them.
Treat yourself better
Have you ever heard the saying that Confidence comes from within? Well, I suppose that is partly true. Whatever goes on in your head affects how you preserve yourself. Just like that jar of jam, if it isn’t carefully prepared and coated with a seal it’s going to go all leaky and off before you know it.
And that is how it works with you too. You know if you can’t take care of yourself properly then how can you take care of others. It isn’t selfish to set aside some time during the day just to sit quietly and focus on the things that you love, or to take that long bath in peace.
With all of this in mind, I thought I would put together some idea’s on how you can treat yourself better, and it doesn’t just involve eating extra greens either, although that is important.
For a start, off make a list of all of the things that you enjoy or the things that you used to enjoy. For example, do you love reading but the only time you seem to get the chance to do it is when you’re on holiday? Ask yourself why? And then think about how many hours you may spend watching soaps on television that quite frankly just dampen your mood.
Right so say if you spend two hours a day watching those soaps. That equates to 520 hours a year, based on 5 days of TV. And what about those extra hours that you spend going to the supermarket because you didn’t plan with the week’s meals. So you franticly run around buying food for that day as you have nothing in to eat. There are some more spare hours. Or better still rope in the help of those who live in the same house as you to come up with some meal ideas.
Now during those hours you have spare spend them well. We can look at other idea’s another time and maybe expand on our own experiences and idea’s that we may have.
So with regards to Confidence and Self Efficacy can I ask do other peoples opinions of us affect how we see ourselves? If it does here are a few words for you.
DON’T TAKE THINGS SO PERSONAL
If offended, hurt, upset by other people and it is affecting your confidence, that is your issue. They do not owe you any confidence tablets.
DAY TO DAY CHANGES THAT CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
- Fake Tan
- Yes, this may sound a little crazy but do you know that if you look at yourself with a bit of colour It can brighten your mood, and make you feel a whole lot healthier.
- And tanning your body can help you to appreciate it.
- If you start tanning then you will also start moisturising and exfoliating. So come the summer month’s you will be reaching for the dresses, skirts and shorts instead of the hot and sweaty jeans.
- Wash your bedclothes every week.
- Just getting into a fresh-smelling bed can lift your mood. If you think about the times that you may have spent in a lovely hotel room, and how luxurious it can feel. So why then do we allow our bedrooms to become dumping grounds filled with crumpled sheets and empty cups.
- And while you’re at it make sure you vacuum behind that bed of yours, open the windows and put some fresh cut flowers and your favourite book by the side of your bed.
- Read, Read, Read
- We spend so much time scrolling through our phones that we forget how to read. The only time we may think about picking up a book is at the airport before going away on holiday.
- Think about a favourite author or something that you are interested in and read about it. I don’t know if you are anything like me, but just holding a book in my hand makes it even more special than trying to read something on a device.
- Take a Bath.
- I bet you are already saying but I do sometimes. Well, do you take a bath, and relax. If your anything like me trying to relax in the bath is something that I have never actually mastered. I just lie there thinking about all of the jobs I could be doing. And more often than not I am interrupted by someone coming in and having a conversation with me. Even watching a youtube video is paused regularly.
- Set some ground rules. Yes, you are in charge of your own time. No one else, and like I said before if you can take some time out for yourself it will help you to help others, and of course appreciate yourself a lot more.