Sparking Self-Efficacy

Hi!!! And Welcome Back to Motivated Mondays! 

We’re talking about empathy and resilience. 

A quick recap of last week before we continue.

Reaching out to share stories of adversity gives us an opportunity to build resilient relationships (1). Last week, we discovered that how we respond to others in moments of adversity matters. We all long to feel understood, valued, and cared for (2). The other party needs to feel supported for a successful, long-term relationship, and perceived support is key (2). 

Empathy builds resilient relationships, and the inability to show empathy can be costly (1). Even when well intentioned, putting a silver lining on a friend, family member, or partner’s adversity can wind up making them feel unheard or undervalued (3). 

Remember, folks who are hurting are vulnerable. Providing a listening ear and empathetic response will promote bonding and connection (3). By paying close attention to non verbal cues and using other-focused listening, we can tune into someone else and allow our observations to guide our communication and engage our empathy. Empathy helps us build the intimacy and trust required for long-term, resilient relationships (1). 

Resilience occurs when we combine the belief that we can control events in life with the power to make desired change and accurate thinking (1). Since we’ve spent time exploring several skills of resilience and the importance of accurate thinking, today, I want to discuss self-efficacy. 

Self-efficacy is the belief that personal skill will result in desired outcomes within a particular situation (4). It provides a sense of control over our environment and is critical to navigating stress and building resilience (1). 

Self-efficacy is essential for personal well-being (4).

Why? People choose to engage in specific behavior and persist in the face of challenges when they believe that their actions will produce desired results (4). Think about it. The belief that we are capable of positive change is essential to resilient behaviors, because if you don’t believe you have the potential to succeed, it is nearly impossible to garner the personal motivation to create change. 

Self-efficacy beliefs are developed when we understand causal relationships and practice self-observation or awareness (4). They also provide the groundwork for self-regulation, which is vital to alter behavior in ways that increase well-being and cultivate resilience. 

Remember, our beliefs can create self-fulfilling prophecies that either encourage or discourage action (5). The belief that we can change and reach desired outcomes will increase our effort, persistence, and performance (4). It opens the door for positive change. As desired outcomes become a reality through intentional action, self-efficacy is strengthened (4). 

Self-efficacy is the internal spark needed to create change.

In fact, the power of change can not be harnessed without self-efficacy. This spark begins with awareness and is sustained through intentional, attentional action. The belief that you can create positive change motivates us to move forward in moments of adversity (1). When coupled with a the other skills of resilience, such as accurate thinking, it can be a powerful force for positive change! 

Self-efficacy can be built in four different ways (6): 

#1: When we successfully accomplish a goal or task, we reinforce our belief that we care capable and strengthen our self-efficacy beliefs. 

#2: Vicarious experience can build our self-efficacy. When someone else is successful, it becomes and example of possibility. Especially if we believe we have comparable skills for the task at hand.

#3: Verbal persuasion also impacts our self-efficacy beliefs. Be it from a coach, friend, family member or even yourself! What we hear can either encourage or discourage us.

#4: Finally, physiological arousal impacts our self-efficacy. In fact, we can use biofeedback and/or exposure to promote feelings of capability. 

To be clear, having high self-efficacy does not guarantee success (6). Sometimes outcomes are simply outside of our control. Additionally, if our self-efficacy beliefs are transferred to a new task or we are overconfident, we may not put in the necessary effort to succeed. So, once again, we see the importance of accuracy. An accurate assessment of ourselves and our environment both informs and supports self-efficacy. 

That said, self-efficacy helps us take on new challenges, grow, and promote well-being. It can even help us stay calm in moments of challenge (1). When we believe we are capable, it is easier to take a breath and figure out how to navigate moments of adversity.  

So, this week, I invite you to build your self-efficacy beliefs by stepping back and acknowledging your progress. What small successes have brought you where you are today?

It is easy to get lost in the sometimes-vast abyss between where we are and where we want to be. Taking time to acknowledge - dare I say celebrate - progress is one way to build feelings of capability over time. It is my hope that you will discover that cultivating a strong sense of capability is worth the effort as it will improve your well-being, bolster your resilience, and offer you a sense of confidence that can only be given to you by you.

Next week, we will be wrap up our time talking about the skills of resilience and moving forward. I hope you will continue to join me on the journey to well-being! Until then, I wish you well.

Gratitude for the expertise and the following resources.


1. Reivich, K, Shatté, A. The resilience factor: 7 keys to finding your inner strength and overcoming life's hurdles. Random House Digital, Inc; 2003.

2. Reis, H, Shaver, P. Intimacy as an interpersonal process. In S. Duck & D. F. Hay (Eds.), Handbook of personal relationships: Theory, research, and interventions (pp. 367–389). New York: Wiley; 1988.

3. Brown, B.

4. Maddox, J. Self-efficacy: The power of believing you can. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology, 2nd ed. (pp. 335-343). New York: Oxford University Press; 2009.

5. Peterson, C. A primer in positive psychology. New York: Oxford University Press; 2006.

6. Bandura, A. Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological review. 1977; 84(2), 191.