We often associate success with the cliched adages of “never give up” and “hard work pays off.” This is true for me starting at an early age when both these axioms were taught, both at school and home. I was in an operetta in fifth grade titled “Don’t Give Up,” and I even sang a solo; talk about impressionable. There is an often an over-looked success attribute called self-efficacy we must acknowledge.
According to psychologist Albert Bandura, self-efficacy is a person’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation. My question is; how do we develop more self-efficacy to achieve our goals? How can we attribute this when it comes to overturning the trauma in our lives? Is self-efficacy similar to self-esteem? Both can be fostered and nurtured by their design. I remember learning to ride my purple Schwinn bicycle with the floral banana seat and the bruises and scrapes I accumulated along the way. It was well worth the time and effort I put into learning to balance, not focusing on falling. As I built speed, the confidence came and the sheer determination that I could conquer this on my own once my dad let go of that white and purple seat. The excitement of me doing it was the motivation to continue proving to myself that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. The adversity I came up against was my self-talk. All I needed to do was ignore my doubt and stay focused on completing my task – balancing this bike.
Bandura, a renowned psychologist took the definition further and defined self-efficacy as beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments. Therefore, self-efficacy goes hand in hand with its significant brother’s self-esteem, both important cornerstones of self-worth. I will be exploring this theory of self-efficacy further as I look into how the relationship with oneself and those beliefs we have embedded from our childhood dictate how we think, feel, behave and act.
Throughout my own life, self-efficacy has shown up personally and professionally. It can appear as self-confidence and a willingness to take risks and get back up after a failure. It showed up in tough times, as with my father’s death, the divorce my mother went through six years after my father’s death to another man, and emotional neglect. Self-efficacy for me has been the ability to rebound and rebuild myself. A way to reframe and teach my inner critic or that internal dialogue we all have what we need within ourselves to learn, adapt and grow.
I want to encourage others to start. Don’t ignore your pain. My first step in not giving up was to change my thinking rather than practicing positive thinking. Many people tend to turn to personal development books, motivational speakers, and internet memes to cheer us on. The problem with that is personal development focusing on positive thinking will show a different and positive way to looks at situations to change how we feel. Rarely does it teach us how to cultivate and practice another way of thinking. I believe that self-efficacy is learnable and influential in developing confidence and certainty in transforming trauma. The interplay of trauma and self-efficacy will be part of my continued analysis, coupled with the effects of technology on our identity development.