Phil Pearl: Mental Toughness Coaching, Training & Hypnotherapy London.

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Confidence and Self-efficacy.

Having belief in your abilities to achieve and succeed.

Whereas confidence is a general term regarding our perceived abilities and the absence of self-doubt, self-efficacy refers to our beliefs in our abilities to succeed at specific tasks and within a given context.

For example, we may have confidence in our abilities when speaking to a small group of friends in a restaurant, but lack confidence in a job interview in front of our prospective new employers. Further, we may have confidence in our cooking abilities but less confidence when it comes to decorating. The psychologist Albert Bandura introduced the concept of self-efficacy in 1977.


Why does self-efficacy matter?

Our self-efficacy beliefs affect many aspects of our lives including:

  • Our levels of performance and what we achieve.

  • Our levels of motivation and what we are willing to attempt.

  • The goals we set and our commitment to achieving them.

  • Our levels of self-control.

  • How much we will persevere in the face of setbacks.

  • Our resilience against obstacles and difficulties.

  • Whether we think productively or are self-defeating.

  • Whether we are pessimistic or optimistic.

  • How likely we are to suffer from stress or become depressed.

  • Our choices in life including education, careers and relationships

Success is often due to our beliefs in our capabilities - our confidence. We may have all the skills needed but if we don't think that we can do it, then of course we won't. We are more likely to achieve what we want, when we have confidence, mental toughness and believe in our ability to succeed.

If we have strong self-efficacy then we are more likely to see problems, changes and difficult tasks as challenges and therefore will engage with them and persevere, rather than feel threatened and avoid them. We will set ourselves demanding goals and have a strong sense of commitment to them. We see any failures and setbacks as a need to increase our efforts or to acquire new skills and resources so that we have confidence and can try again. Our outlook will be more optimistic and we will have greater self-assurance. Strong self-efficacy means that we will feel more confident, in control and are less likely to feel stressed or become depressed.

Low self-efficacy means that we will doubt our capabilities and lack confidence. This self-doubt will cause us to avoid moving out of our comfort zones. Our aspirations will be lower and we will set ourselves smaller goals and be less motivated to achieve them. Set backs or failures will be attributed to our perceived lack of ability and we will not increase our efforts to succeed. We are more likely to be less resilient, give up and focus on our faults. Our general outlook will be more negative and our view of the future pessimistic. Our lack of faith in ourselves will mean that we feel less in control and are more likely to feel stressed, helpless and hopeless; we are more likely to become depressed.

What influences our self-efficacy?

Self-efficacy can be developed by our experiences. Previous successes at tasks will increase our self-efficacy and confidence for a particular subject or area. Failures may decrease our self-efficacy and confidence, especially if we have no previous successes to build on. If we only experience easy successes and quick results, then failures may cause us to be easily discouraged and give up. If we have persevered in the face of difficulties then our self-efficacy will be more resilient and we will recover easier from setbacks.

Our observations of other people will influence our self-efficacy and confidence. If we see others succeed whom we regard as similar to ourselves then we are more likely to believe that we are also capable of success. Of course, if we see similar people fail despite their best efforts, we may be less likely to believe in ourselves. We may also increase our self-efficacy by learning from or modelling someone with the skills, qualities and capabilities we desire.

Our self-efficacy and confidence will be affected by the encouragement that we receive from others. If we are persuaded, against our own self-doubt that we have the necessary qualities and capabilities to succeed, then we may increase our efforts and try harder. If the encouragement was misjudged then we learn from poor results. A lack of encouragement or negative persuasion may quickly undermine our self-efficacy and increase our self-doubt. Therefore, we may limit our activities and be far less motivated, leading to further disbelief in our capabilities.

The way in which we react to physical and emotional stress also plays a part in our levels of self-efficacy and confidence. If we perceive that our bodily fatigue, aches or tension are signs of physical inadequacy then our belief in our capabilities will be reduced. Alternatively we may view our reactions to stress as an energizing and motivating factor. Our emotions and moods will also affect our self-efficacy; a positive mood will increase our self-efficacy, whilst a negative or pessimistic mood will reduce it.

Self-efficacy and confidence not only applies to individuals but also groups and organisations. A team or company that has high beliefs in their collective efficacy will overcome challenges and be more likely to persist and succeed in a competitive business environment.

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Mental Toughness. Resilience. Confidence.
Life Coach. Personal Trainer, CBT Coach. Existential Coach. Hypnotherapist.

Mental Toughness Coach, Personal Trainer & Hypnotherapist, London

Tel: 07966 377478