At the heart of your resilience is your ability to believe in yourself. And while this notion is often preached as a clichéd maxim, you can rest assured there’s more to it.
In fact, research in positive psychology points to the role of self-efficacy in cultivating resilience.
Self-efficacy is defined as one’s belief in one’s ability to successfully execute any given task. And it is this belief that determines whether or not you can rise up after being knocked down.
The Cyclical Relationship between Self-Efficacy and Resilience
You see, this can-do attitude is underpinned by a sense of optimism and control over your environment. You are confident that through your own actions and behaviour, you can alter the challenging environmental demands around you. Therefore, it represents the idea that should you be confronted with adversity, you can deal with it.
Individuals with high self-efficacy tend to trust their own abilities in the face of adversity and rather than view their problems as threats, they view them as challenges and opportunities for growth. They also think in more self-enhancing ways and display perseverance in difficult scenarios.
In contrast, individuals with low self-efficacy often experience doubt and anxiety whenever confronted with adversity. They do view problems as threats and because they take more responsibility for their failures over their successes, they think in more self-deprecating ways.
So, if you identify with this latter group how can you go about adopting a greater sense of self-efficacy and in turn, a greater sense of resilience?
Let’s explore a few methods, shall we?
3 Ways to Build Self-Efficacy and Boost Your Resilience
1. Go Small
Progress is power.
That is, research has continuously demonstrated that progress in our goals strengthens our self-perception. A heightened sense of self-perception then becomes a catalyst for further progress, leading to even greater self-perception thereby forming a positive cycle of success.
Of course, it all begins with the achievement of a small goal.
If your overarching goal is to lose 20 pounds, make a point of celebrating the loss of the first two. If you’re aiming to establish a 6-figure business, focus on securing your first client, regardless of how much they pay.
At this point, you may be wondering what will happen if you experience a failure or setback of sorts. If you set a big goal and are taking actions towards reaching it, a small setback might have stopped you in your tracks, however, by taking notice of these mini accomplishments, you are ensuring that your progress is far more visible and stand a greater chance of continuing your journey.
By setting small goals, accomplishing and recognizing the small successes, you are gradually building your self-efficacy and consequently your resilience.
People learn not only from their own experiences, but by observing the behaviours of others.
One of the best ways to further your own self-belief is by watching someone else successfully perform that same task. By paying close attention to what they do, how they do it and being curious as to the motives for their behaviours, you will find out that your belief about whether or not you can perform the task in question will dramatically improve.
Take, for instance, a work-related example. If your boss has assigned you a particular project (perhaps to write up a report, give a presentation etc.) and you’re not confident in your ability to do, consider your surrounding colleagues.
Ask someone who has had experience with similar projects to show you the ropes. If they experience failure along the way, pay even closer attention to how their actions allow them to bounce back from it. By engaging in vicarious learning, you too are programming your mind to understand the steps required and the obstacles you may encounter thus placing you in a better position to succeed.
3. Look Back
A reliable way of building self-efficacy is to reflect on your past accomplishments.
Often the doubt we have about a particular scenario stems from our fear of uncertainty in the light of unfamiliarity. That is, we feel as though we cannot do something because we’ve never done it before.
In this instance, take a moment to remind yourself of past experiences. it is likely that the skills you’ve developed in the past can help you to your current situation. If, for example, you’ve made the decision to start a business but are doubting your abilities to do so, look back over your career or job history and attempt to recall all past experiences that fostered your current skill set, explore which of these skills would be relevant in helping you in the current situation. (Relevant here: Appreciative Inquiry in Business)
Make a conscious effort to acknowledge these moments and recognize that your new venture can be achieved by utilizing the skills which you already have.
A Take Home Message
When beginning a new step, goal or year there is space for reflection on your beliefs about your success in reaching your goals. Self-efficacy has the potential to create a positive spiral as through developing self-efficacy you are able to deal with challenging situations with resilience and optimism.
In sum, self-efficacy is paramount to success in life. It forms the foundation of any goal attainment and has a significant impact on your well-being. How’s yours? Share you experiences with how self-efficacy improves your resilience in the comment box below.
About The Author
Yezen Nwiran is a positive psychology researcher, writer and aspiring practitioner. Having graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Psychological Science, Yezen now conducts academic research in the field, currently exploring the cultivation of resilience. He is also the founder and host of The Yez To Life Podcast, a podcast dedicated to improving the lives of others through applications of positive psychology. Find out more at www.yeztolife.com.