What is self-efficacy and how important is it for your well-being? What are the signs of a lack of self-efficacy? Discover how you can use exercises to nurture your self-efficacy and permanently strengthen your self-confidence.
Self-efficacy is a concept that was proposed by the psychologist Albert Bandura. It plays a central role in our lives: it centres around our trust in our own ability to overcome certain tasks and reach our goals. This conviction forms the basis for personal and professional growth and motivates us to develop ourselves further. Self-efficacy influences how we approach challenges and pursue our goals. It gives us perseverance, even when we suffer setbacks, and promotes resilience, which we need to keep going – and even grow – when going through hard times. Self-efficacy is like a muscle that you can train: the more you practise and the more success you experience, the stronger your self-belief will be.
For example, learning a new language or trying out a new hobby can strengthen your self-confidence. Having strong self-efficacy also improves your problem-solving skills and makes you feel motivated to take on challenges. This makes self-efficacy a key element of your personal development and your success.
Self-efficacy is the fundamental belief that you are generally able to overcome challenges. Self-efficacy expectation, on the other hand, relates to specific situations and challenges. For example: you may believe that you are generally good at maths (this is self-efficacy), but if you actually think that you’re able to solve a specific maths equation without making a mistake, then this is a self-efficacy expectation. Both concepts help you to stay motivated and pursue your goals.
Self-efficacy not only influences your ability to reach your goals, but it also affects your general well-being and your resilience. Having high self-efficacy means you can reduce feelings of stress more effectively and better deal with difficult situations. If you believe in your own abilities, you will find solutions for problems more easily and build resilient relationships.
Having a healthy amount of self-efficacy means that – generally speaking – you will also have a more positive attitude towards life and will worry less. You will also find it easier to deal with your emotions. Self-efficacy can also improve your social and emotional skills. After all, being more self-assured will make it easier for you to openly and actively communicate with your fellow human beings and build long-lasting relationships. Having positive social contact also contributes towards your well-being.
Low self-efficacy can manifest itself in various forms in all areas of life. If you lack this inner confidence, then it is likely that you are not reaching your full potential. But how does low self-efficacy manifest itself?
A lack of self-efficacy often leads to self-doubt. You might find yourself questioning whether you have the skills or knowledge to complete a certain task. This self-doubt can be debilitating and can stop you from taking on new projects or pursuing your goals.
A tendency towards procrastination can be another sign of low self-efficacy. Because you don’t believe that you can complete a task successfully, you put off making a start on it. As a result, you put important tasks on the back burner, which can then cause stress and anxiety.
If you don’t have robust self-efficacy, then you might tend to keep away from challenges. This can slow down your personal and professional development because challenges make you grow and help you learn.
Your relationships can also be impacted by low self-efficacy. You might be hesitant to insert yourself into groups, or you might find it difficult to express your opinions and ideas. Stronger self-efficacy can improve the quality of your interactions, which will make you feel happier and more secure in social situations.
From a professional perspective, if your self-efficacy is too low, then this can impact your work performance and your happiness at work. You may feel uncertain about taking on new tasks or putting forward new ideas.
Do you want to increase your self-efficacy? There are exercises and techniques that can help you nurture your self-confidence and self-belief in a targeted way. You should think of it as a process, so don’t forget to be patient with yourself. It’s worth your while!
Set yourself clear, realistic goals and review your progress towards them on a regular basis. Split a large goal into smaller sub-goals – this will give you a feeling of success as time goes on and motivate you. It will also strengthen your self-confidence and your self-efficacy. Once you have reached your goals, be sure to reflect on them, acknowledge them and be proud of what you have achieved.
Visualise your successes using a vision board, for example, so that you always have your goals and successes in front of you and can stay motivated. This will help you nurture your self-confidence as well as your self-efficacy.
See mistakes as learning opportunities, not as failures. Look at what didn’t go to plan and work on strategies for making improvements next time around. Doing this will build a growth mentality, which is key to developing self-efficacy.
Practise positive self-talk by replacing negative thoughts with words of encouragement. For example, instead of saying “I’m not good enough”, say “I’m learning and growing”. Over time, this positive internal dialogue will become a habit, which can have a significant effect on your self-efficacy.
Reduce stress and promote a positive mindset by practising techniques such as meditation, mindfulness and yoga or by exercising regularly. Doing these things regularly can help you improve your self-awareness and develop a deeper understanding of your reactions and emotions in different situations. This can then have a positive influence on your mental health.
Expand your knowledge and skillset through learning and training. Learning new skills can improve self-confidence and strengthen self-efficacy. Learning also opens the door to new prospects and opportunities, which can be beneficial for your motivation and commitment towards personal and professional growth.
Social contact can increase your self-efficacy through positive support and affirmation. Share your goals and progress with others, take on constructive feedback, and celebrate joint successes. This will strengthen your confidence in your own abilities as you will showcase these in a social context and receive affirmation.
The people you spend time with also play a vital role. Positive social contact with supportive and encouraging people can strengthen your self-efficacy. In contrast, negative relationships or unconstructive feedback can adversely affect your self-efficacy. For this reason, it is important that you maintain social ties that have a positive influence on your personal development.
Self-efficacy is vital to your personal well-being. There are a number of different ways to increase your self-confidence and maintain it permanently. Celebrate small successes and surround yourself with people who are good for you – this will enable you to nurture your self-efficacy and stay motivated.
The expert provided the editorial team with advice and input for this article. Melissa Biedermann (MSc Psychology, Coach) works in the Helsana health consultation service. She supports customers on questions to do with mental well-being and self-development.
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