Self-Doubt –Learn to Use the Challenge Response of Self-Efficacy

” Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the sources of action required to manage prospective situations…remember self-belief does not necessarily ensure success, but self-disbelief assuredly spawns failure…People who regard themselves as highly efficacious act, think, and feel differently from those who perceive themselves as in-efficacious. They produce their own future, rather than simply foretell it…People with high assurance in their capabilities approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided.” Dr. Albert Bandura 
From Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory., 1986.

A concise summary by psychology.about.com describes why the theory of self-efficacy is so important in the psychology of self is because  self-efficacy can have an impact on everything from psychological states to behavior to motivation. Most people can identify goals they want to accomplish, things they would like to change in their behavior, and things they would like to achieve. However, most people also realize that putting these plans into action is not quite so simple. Bandura and others have found that an individual’s self-efficacy plays a major role in how goals, tasks, and challenges are approached.

” People with a strong sense of self-efficacy:

  • View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered
  • Develop deeper interest in the activities in which they participate
  • Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities
  • Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments

People with a weak sense of self-efficacy:

  • Avoid challenging tasks
  • Believe that difficult tasks and situations are beyond their capabilities
  • Focus on personal failings and negative outcomes
  • Quickly lose confidence in personal abilities”
Self-Doubt is a difficult burden to carry around everyday. The next time you have self-doubt challenge this negative thought or opinion about you. To survive and thrive in this life means that you need to find your own inner compass of strength and build unshakable confidence and BELIEF about who you are and what your strengths are for building a fulfilling and meaningful life. Don’t let other people define who you are and how you need to live your life.

MISTAKE #1: Accepting Other People’s  “Wrong Opinion” of You

In our desire to please people and get along, most people early in life decide it is more to their benefit to accept a bad opinion of themselves from a  parent, peer or teacher. – even if it’s not true, so as to be accepted and stay out of trouble.

“You’re terrible at sports because your feet are too big.”
“You don’t have the creativity to be an artist.”
“Your too weak to get stay the course and make a living as an actor.”
“Just give up the this dream of being a musician you don’t have a good ear and are tone-deaf. Find something more practical to do.”

I’ve noticed that many people accept these statements even when they don’t agree with them.

Then they go out and do something they don’t believe in and try to live the life set-out for them or encouraged by others. They do this even if they are not interested or passionate about the suggestions. Living a life chosen by others is a terrible choice because it makes you feel dependent and reduces your ability to live an autonomous and responsible life. You always have the excuse “I am just doing what you recommended for me to do.” I am sure these advice givers had good intentions but they robbed you of learning first hand what was best for you to do given your strengths and self-desires. This backdoor excuse reduces your ability to make decisions and reduces your ability to take ownership for your life.

This approach can will crush your confidence instantly.Why? Because to be confident, you need to trust yourself to make decisions and be able to tell yourself the truth. This dependency approach thus limits self-awareness and self efficacy. This approach of dismissing responsibility for choices is the root cause of self-doubt. This decision to believe others can do major damage to your confidence and emotion health and the ability to life an independent and reality based life.

Case in point: An employee I worked with was disappointed and upset about her lack of promotion to Supervisor on an important audit for the firm. She just wasn’t getting the best assignments because the Manager’s had decided she didn’t have the experience and ability to hand supervision of others. (yet).

What’s the message you think the Manager on the Furr’s audit is sending?” I asked her.

That I’m not good enough or smart enough to supervise others,” she said.

And how ARE you perceiving your skills and abilities to handle this assignment?” I asked her.

I’m not myself at all. I’m always nervous when interacting with others I am not trusting my training or instincts and I’m messing up even the simplest work papers and discussions with other colleagues or the client.” she said.

So what is the issue self-doubt, lack of communication or lack of training to learn the way to do these things – guess what?

This employee came from one of the best accounting schools in the country where she obtained B grades. She didn’t lose confidence because her manager didn’t allow her to supervise others or get good assignments. She lost it because she KNOWS she is a smart and competent auditor, but decided to believe and buy-in to a different view of herself by managers in her firm. When you lose self-belief or buy-in do other viewpoints about your abilities its ‘game over’ for your motivation and confidence.

Your self-belief or self-efficacy is your basic tool for success and overcoming barriers in your life.Question what you KNOW to be true, and you’ll do terrible damage to your career and your self belief. Now I know what you’re thinking.

“Mark, if I have a boss who thinks I’m not smart or experienced enough to be included as the supervisor on a project, then how dare I second-guess him or convince him I am ready. “

Easy. Ask him what he needs to see from her to show him she is ready to supervise this audit assignment. After he responds, set-up a mutual agreed to performance and training plan to get the experiences and training needed for your success. Be more assertive about your skills and abilities. That’s what your manager is hoping for, and anything less is a disservice to both of you. Your boss may be the smartest person alive, but even he doesn’t have a crystal ball and cannot predict the future. Heck, even Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team.

Remember, human beings are not built to persist and their belief in themselves and be crushed very easily by people they respect and look-up to. Unfortunately, many of us give up at the first sign of struggle, and the biggest struggle of all is believing in yourself even when no one else does.

You can change and in changing prove to others your competence and confidence to succeed where they thought you couldn’t. You can persevere and believe and with belief comes confidence and a positive self-fulfilling prophecy can be set in motion to change other people’s view and opinion of your abilities.

Self-Coaching Module #5– Dealing With Self-Doubt and Fears:“If you want to learn who you are, you must be willing to be uncomfortable.”

Dealing with Fears—Confront and grow

As I sat in the audience listening to the facilitator from the Center for Creative Leadership, Jeri Lou Johnson, little did I know that one sentence was about to change my point of view on life.

On this grey and dreary day Jeri Lou gave a marvelous presentation. She had many valuable things to say. But there was one line — one absolute gem — that stands out. Here’s what she said:

 “If you want to learn who you are, you must be willing to be uncomfortable.”

I’ll never forget those words. And Jerri was right on the money. To achieve your goals and realize your potential, you must be willing to be uncomfortable, take risks — to do things that you’re afraid to do. That’s how you develop your potential!

Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? And yet, what do most people do when they face a frightening situation or new activity? They back away from the fear. They don’t take action. I know… because that’s what I did for many years of my life. And I can tell you without hesitation that it’s a losing strategy.Show me a successful person and I’ll show you someone who confronts his or her fears and takes action! 

Examining Our Fears

Have you ever been afraid or anxious before trying a new or challenging activity? Has that fear ever stopped you from taking action? I’m sure you’ve been paralyzed by fear at one time or another in your life. I know I have. That’s simply part of being human. Of course, every person has a different fear threshold. What frightens one person to death might have little impact on someone else. For example, to some, speaking in public or starting a new business is scary. Others might be fearful about asking someone for directions… or for a date. Regardless of how trivial or silly you believe your fears may be, this lesson applies to you.

When I talk about fear, I’m not referring to physical risks that might injure you or endanger your health, such as diving off cliffs in Acapulco or bungee jumping. I’m scared of those things, too — and I have no plans to do either of them. What I’m talking about here are those challenges that stand in the way of your personal and professional growth. These are the things that scare you — but which you know are necessary if you’re going to get what you want in life.

 The Comfort Zone

When you’re gripped by fear and anxiety, it’s usually because you’re stepping out of your comfort zone.Let’s take some time to discuss this important concept — and how it relates to your success and the development of your potential.

Each of us has a comfort zone, a zone of behavior that is familiar to us and where we feel comfortable and safe. Think of your comfort zone as the inside of a circle.

The activities and situations that lie inside the circle are non-threatening and familiar. They’re routine, part of your everyday life — the things you can do with no sweat. In this category are tasks such as speaking to your friends or co-workers or filling out the daily paperwork at your job.

When faced with something outside your comfort zone, you suddenly feel nervous. Your palms become sweaty and your heart pounds. You begin to wonder,

“Will I be able to handle it?
“Will others laugh at me?
“What will my friends and relatives say?”

Does it mean I am weak if I can’t handle this on my own?

Take out a blank piece of paper or one use of your journal pages.  Draw one large circle of fear , then another smaller one inside the outer circle and then finally draw a core circle.    As you look at the circles, label the core with a “C” and next one with a “B” and the outer circle with a “A”.  What does the “C” represent for you? In other words, what fear or unresolved conflict is holding you back from reaching the next level “B”of success or the level “A” fulfillment in your life?

Is it fear of approaching new prospects?
Is it fear about changing careers?
Is it fear about learning new skills?
Is it fear of going back to school?
Is it fear of telling other people what’s on your mind?
Is it fear of public speaking?

Whatever that “C” represents for you, just be honest and admit it. My guess is that thousands, if not millions, of people have the very same fear you have!

The Ultimate Solution: Just Do It

Ralph Waldo Emerson offered some simple advice, which, if followed, can transform your life. He said, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.” I know this advice makes good sense, but some people are just too afraid to act. Remember my prior words about the steep price you pay when you let your fears dominate you.

In the end, running away from your fears is a losing strategy. It will only bring you frustration and unhappiness. I can tell you that from personal experience.

There’s nothing wrong with having some fears. Successful people have fears. The difference is that successful people take action and move forward despite being afraid. It’s not always easy, I’ll grant that. But you’ll always feel better about yourself when you face your fears.