Self-Efficacy: The Power of Beliefs

I went for an outside run the other day, my first outside run of Spring. We’ve had an extremely long winter here in Alberta, and I just couldn’t will myself to dodge ice and puddles so I opted for a winter of stationary cycling to nowhere. As I was running, the banter within my head started taking over with each stride. “I’ve taken too much time off, my pace is much slower now.” and “I bet I look like Phoebe from Friends when I run.”

As my unproductive self talk skipped like a broken record in my head, I found myself wanting to turn around and go home. I recognized this pattern of discouraging thinking from years of practice. These are the thoughts that give me an excuse to slip back into old behaviours that produce little action. The old version of me who was happy to sit on the sidelines of life and doubted I could be an active person, so I didn’t even try.

I realized this “not trying” thing, is something I’ve done for a large part of my adult life. Dreams are just dreams, because of my fear of failure.

And then out of nowhere, one powerful confident thought popped into my head. “You don’t live there anymore.”

It took me off guard…where did that come from?!

“Those old beliefs no longer serve you. Let them go. Keep calm and run. No matter how slow your pace is now,  you are trying. You’re doing.”

And with that, I kept on running further than I have every ran before. I had some time to think about it when my run was over, and I realized there is always a payoff when living within behaviours that are destructive. So what exactly is the payoff to living a complacent life void of action?  It’s safe within my comfort zone. There’s no failure there, because there’s no trying. Hmmmmm, interesting. And then I thought about the payoff within active living. There’s so many positives, it makes me feel ridiculous for comparing the two.

I don’t live there anymore.

Recently, I decided to pursue a 10 yr dream of getting my Personal Training Certification. I’m half way there. Out of all the information I’ve read through in the text-book, the one term that has stuck with me most is this: “Self-Efficacy

Wikipedia’s definition: “Self-efficacy is the extent or strength of one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals.”

The strength within a personal belief  in one’s ability is a key factor to successfully reaching a goal.

There is both power and destruction within our beliefs.

Self-Efficacy is so interesting to me, as I realized I have the power to mould my actions through my beliefs. I thought back to where I was at the start of this journey, and I truly believed I couldn’t do it. The end goal was too big. How was I going to lose close to 100 pounds?! I believed I was weak, void of will-power, with little motivation. At some point, you just have to dive into a goal and push the negative beliefs to the side. What made me dive in? One tiny little positive thought: “Start small”

I will never forget my first attempt at jogging. I drove to the Vermilion Provincial Park, put on a brand new pair of Nikes, and started walking. I told myself I would walk for 20 minutes, and jog for part of it. I jogged for increments of 20 seconds. I felt both freedom and discouragement within that first walk/jog.

Do it again.

And so that began my journey with exercise. As I successfully reached each small goal, my beliefs turned from “I can’t” to “I think I can” to “I know I can” to “what goal is next?”.

I realized the importance of music to set pace and cope with feelings that I didn’t want to deal with. I ran to Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” when I coped with a miscarriage.

And I ran to Metallica’s “Don’t Tread on Me” when I was frustrated…

And a whole lot of Stevie Nicks when I was feeling nostalgic…

Over the years, my music choices have changed as I’ve grown and learned to embrace life with a lot more positivity. 😉 I’m more apt to choose Top 40 now, as long as it pushes me on.  I love the 8tracks app on my iPhone. Check it out: http://8tracks.com

I know I have the ability to shape my actions now. I just need to believe I can do it. And just so you know, you can do it too. Your beliefs hold the power.

Here’s an interesting read on enhancing self-efficacy: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/flourish/201002/if-you-think-you-can-t-think-again-the-sway-self-efficacy 

From my heart to yours,

Christine

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