Granted we’ve only made it to the end of January, some of us may already be feeling a bit overwhelmed or anxious about the goals we’ve set for 2019. Wondering if we can even accomplish them in the first place.
So, I’m here to say that you can, and if you believe—you will.
“So, I’m here to say that you can, and if you believe—you will.
In fact, our worlds are shaped by self-belief, or more specifically our self-efficacy, which is a person’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation. I tapped Clinical Psychologist and Adjunct Professor Tiffany N. Brown to gain a bit more insight on the term and how it affects us.
She notes that “self-efficacy differs in meaning and in practice from self-esteem and self-worth. It is more than ‘how you feel about yourself.’ It focuses on this central piece of ourselves that either believes in our capabilities or does not.” And what we believe we are capable of is what we will actively pursue. The aspirations we desire have been in our hands all along, it’s time we stick to following through with them.
Have you ever noticed that when faced with the decision to chase our dreams or complete that lofty goal, we sometimes have a tendency to talk ourselves out of it before even getting started? If we believe we cannot do something, that then becomes the reality. “Self-efficacy impacts, and sometimes determines, what challenges a person chooses to face, what achievements are pursued, and what successes we go after,” Dr. Brown explains. “It is important because it is intricately connected to motivation, confidence, resilience, and the pursuit of desires and achievements.”
A lot of times people struggle with what is known as “Imposter Syndrome,” which is one of the most common catalysts of decreasing one’s sense of self-efficacy. Imposter Syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” Though it isn’t a new term, more than before—a number of us are feeling the impact of Imposter Syndrome.
Sometimes, these negative feelings of self-belief are so deeply rooted they may seem difficult to overcome, but it isn’t impossible. Saying to yourself “I believe I can do great things” one morning is not going to reverse years of doubt—instead, you can incorporate a few simple techniques consistently that will spark change.
Set Courageous but Realistic Goals
When setting goals or stepping outside of the box we often assume they must be grand. However, what showcases true courage is simply stepping out of your comfort zone and pursuing ambitions that are outside of the norm for you. Perhaps it’s enrolling in that creative writing class after work, or kickstarting that side hustle you’ve always dreamed of. Whatever it is, make sure that you are intentional about it, and that this aligns with what in your heart you are most passionate about.
Celebrating Small and Big Accomplishments
None of your accomplishments are insignificant. “When a goal or a desire is achieved, it is important to acknowledge it and not simply move on to the next task,” Dr. Brown suggests. “By celebrating small accomplishments, you are creating memories. So, when you face challenges, you can recall those memories and accomplishments and use them to motivate you and increase self-efficacy.”
Cut Down on Comparison
This can be easier said than done, as these days we’ve pretty much developed a comparison culture given the accessibility of social media. With a bird’s eye view into the lives of others, it’s hard not to compare ourselves. However, we must try our best to silence that green-eyed monster. This can be by limiting usage or perhaps creating distance from those that drain as opposed to uplift you. Instead, try following folks who educate and inspire you, which is much more likely to fuel your motivation.
Talk to People
To help lower the amount of comparison between yourself and others, it’s important to be vocal with those around you. “It is easy to create stories in our minds about other’s successes. However, once you talk to them, the reality of their perceived success and accomplishments is evident,” says Dr. Brown. “If more people were open and talked about their feelings about being an imposter, there would be more recognition about how it is a normal, developmental task that most people face.” Even the most “put together” or #goals individual has experienced moments of self-doubt. By actively engaging with those around you, you can gain insight into how they were able to overcome.
Monitor the Way You Talk to Yourself
Self-talk plays a tremendous role in the way in which you experience self-efficacy and pursue your goals. If you say you can’t, you’ll believe you can’t and from there—you won’t. Practice being kind and compassionate to yourself on a daily basis by silencing that inner critic. This can be done by reciting positive affirmations each morning, or in moments of adversity consistently reminding yourself that “I can do better.”
Up to this point in your life, you’ve been able to overcome obstacles and situations that at the moment felt impossible. So why not aim higher? Change is possible. All that is needed to influence it is wholehearted belief. So that soon enough you’ll realize you were great all along.
**A shortened version of this story was originally featured on Shine
About Dr. Tiffany N. Brown
Dr. Tiffany N. Brown in a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Adjunct Professor. She earned her doctorate degree from Howard University and completed her predoctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
As a practicing psychologist, she seeks to help her clients understand and overcome barriers that intrude upon them and ultimately interfere with them living a fulfilling life. Passionate about community work, Dr. Brown also works with community- based organizations to provide mental health education and workshops to those who often do not seek mental health treatment.
A native Southern Californian and a transplant to the East Coast, when relaxing, Dr. Brown enjoys time at the beach and relaxing in the sun. Contact Dr. Brown at DrTiffanyNBrown@gmail.com.