I had the opportunity to hear a psychologist speak about self efficacy, especially on a college campus. Now I know what your thinking. What the heck is self efficacy? I said the exact same thing. I took Psych 101 but I was so lost with all these big psych words. But basically there are two main words you need to know: projective and self efficacy. And I’m not a psychologist by any means so I’m just going to give my best shot at explaining it as I understood it. Feel free to please correct me if I’m wrong. Basically, people put their unconscious needs onto an ambiguous situation to give it structure. For example, people can project things from their minds without thinking onto other people they interact with. If you have trust issues with a close family member, you may inherently not trust anyone you meet no matter how they interact with you. Rorschach tests are usually good projective tests. Now self efficacy is basically belief in your ability to succeed and accomplish things. It’s how much you believe that you can control your own motivation, behavior and social environment. It is different that self confidence because that is how much you like yourself overall. Liking yourself and believing in your ability are two different things. Both can be grown with time by changing your mindset.
Now when I heard all of this, my mind started racing about my past and history with mental health. First, I realized that I could be projecting a lot of things onto people I interact with. It was interesting because there was an inkblot on the screen that most people said looked like Dr. Octopus from Spiderman and a spider. However when I looked at it, I saw Hela, the Goddess of Death from the MCU. Death. I saw death. I was freaked out. My mind started going crazy as I realized there are so many things that I could potentially be projecting on people like my inability to think people care about me, or love me. That I’m always doing something wrong and I will continue to do something wrong. It was all very overwhelming to hear because it made so much sense. I have been to therapists in the past but I haven’t seen been to psychotherapy, and now I’m thinking that it could be something that is of interest to me. Now, the self efficacy part was very interesting. Now mind you, I was in a room with high achieving individuals so I had the feeling that most people had high self efficacy. Most people had achieved a lot and could continue to achieve all that they wanted too. However, I have very low self efficacy. I don’t believe in my abilities to achieve and succeed. Unfortunately, I have a majorly fixed mindset, where I don’t always think about what I can do to work around my mistakes, failures, or obstacles. For example, I didn’t get into grad school for forensic anthropology so I quit. I don’t study it anymore and I don’t plan on going back. I could have easily worked and studied for the next year and applied again but I didn’t. I didn’t because I was so sure that I couldn’t get it. That it was over. In this situation, my self efficacy was rock bottom. However, it is interesting because I still have trouble dealing with situations I can’t control. Most people with low efficacy understand and accept that things are out of their control sometimes, and it’s just how life goes. For myself, I want to control everything but I’m not going to keep pushing to a fault to get over them. I more likely to just quit because I don’t believe there is any way around it. I think now that I realize this is a known theory in psychology and there is science around the growth of it, I may be able to begin developing my ability to believe in myself and all I can do. I mean I’m in grad school for goodness sake. I must be able to achieve something.
Now, we were in this talk because of the nature of our work. We, as professionals, are projectives. People that I work with project their unconscious needs and feelings on to me, without their knowledge most of the time. Almost everyone or everything can be a projective. I think it is important to realize this because it can help you interact with people better, and possibly help people. Now, you can also impact the self efficacy of another person. And it is so incredibly simple to do. First, show them you believe in them. Tell them they got this and you care about their success. I hope that your day foes well. So easy but it could be so impactful. Often times, we just assume that people know we want them to do well but we don’t. Actually hearing it can make it believable to the person. Next, tell them they are not alone and you’ve been there. Everyone has had struggles in their life and sharing them shows that they aren’t alone. Almost everyone struggling with mental health problems will probably tell you that they have felt very alone at one point or another. When I was in high school, if someone had shared their story of mental health with me, it could have made the world of difference. People kept telling me that they had sad days, but nothing was ever told to me about dealing with long term depression and severe anxiety. I never even knew of another person having a panic attack near me. That is why I’m so passionate about having my voice and story out there because it can help someone. It can show someone that they aren’t alone and that they can overcome and manage and live with mental health disorders.
It seems like such small little words to say and it almost seems like it is too simple. But the smallest things can have the largest impact. If you are having trouble with your belief in yourself, just know that people have been there and came out the other side to accomplish so many things. You got this. And take the time to show support and belief in those around you. You never know what someone may need to hear.