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Start building up your self-efficacy and see the results

Self-efficacy is a concept that affects all of our daily lives without many of us even knowing it. It affects our decision making, our sense of self, our confidence, and how we move about the world. But what is self-efficacy? And how can we grow it to live better lives?

Self-efficacy is our internal sense that we are able to take on and overcome challenges. It is the voice in our heads that says, “This might take some effort, but I believe with hard work, I’ll be able to do it.” Your sense of self-efficacy can impact a huge variety of things—from schoolwork, to interviewing for a new job, to even something like taking a walk around your neighborhood. Anything that poses some sort of challenge, whether it’s mental, physical, social, or emotional, is impacted by self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy is something that can be gained or lost over time. Sometimes, you build up confidence in a skill, but after a long period of not utilizing it, you may feel uncertain and nervous about trying again. This is because, while people can have generally high or generally low senses of self-efficacy, it is also tied to individual tasks, skills, and challenges.

A person might have high self-efficacy about the tasks they perform at work, but low self-efficacy about life maintenance tasks like going to the grocery store. Someone could even be an expert in a topic or master of a skill, but after years away, find it scary to engage with it again.

Many Autistic people struggle with self-efficacy. Because our brains tend to be very detail-oriented, they may convince us that two similar situations are entirely unique, and that our confidence in one doesn’t apply to the other. Going to a casual sit-down restaurant may be fine, but going to a slightly nicer one in a new city may seem completely foreign, and therefore scary. Or, we can build our self-efficacy with incredibly thorough routines, and if those are disrupted, we no longer feel confident in our abilities.

But how does one build self-efficacy? Jane McGonigal at the Institute for the Future lays out the steps as such:

  1. Accept a goal

  2. Make an effort

  3. Get feedback

  4. Improve your skill

  5. Keep trying

  6. Eventually succeed

That means that one doesn’t have to succeed at their challenge right away to build self-efficacy! In fact, it’s important that you are able to learn from failure and receive feedback in a safe and supportive environment in order to build it up—showing your brain that challenging situations are okay, and that not succeeding right away is not as scary as it may seem.

Because self-efficacy can impact almost every aspect of daily life, it’s important to have help and guidance on how you can improve your confidence and start taking on challenges in a healthy and supported way. Whatever challenge you or a loved one is facing, the coaches at Autism Personal Coach can help, so don’t be afraid to reach out and let us support you!

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