Written by Diane G. Cook
Self-efficacy is the belief that we can achieve influence over the conditions that affect our lives. It is a concept increasingly used with people living with Parkinson’s as a way to assist us in taking a proactive role in the management of our disease. Research shows that people who are able to exert some control over their lives fare better and experience a better quality of life. Virtually everyone has some degree of self-efficacy. The challenge for people like me and you, who are living with Parkinson’s, is to strengthen our self-efficacy and focus it in ways that help us better cope.
How Self-Efficacy Can Help
Building belief in our own capabilities increases our level of self-efficacy and influences what we are able to do. This increasing belief in our own power to effect change is a catalyst for a range of new, healthy behavior patterns. For example, we are able to maintain a more positive attitude that in turn positively impacts our emotional state and level of motivation. We are better able to find the strength from within to accept setbacks as challenges and to more easily persevere in the face of difficulties. For instance, while exercise may be more difficult for us (and in some cases, it may seem entirely too hard) by applying self-efficacy principles we can, particularly with the help of others, reinvigorate our exercise regimen and gain the quality of life and symptom improvement exercise can bring.
Enhancing Your Self-Efficacy
A scientifically-based process for enhancing self-efficacy was developed by renowned psychologist, Dr. Albert Bandura, of Stanford University.
1. The first step is to set a series of ever more difficult goals; the accomplishment of each enhances the belief that we can achieve the next. This creates an experience of mastery, which is the foundation of a strong sense of self-belief.
2. The second step is to identify a model to which we aspire, such as one or more people living with Parkinson’s who are managing their Parkinson’s well. Seeing others in a similar situation succeed through their own determined efforts raises the belief that we, too, can overcome the specific challenges we face.
3. The third step is to seek out positive reinforcement and encouragement, which strengthens our belief that we have what it takes to succeed. This approach is being used in the Parkinson’s Self-Efficacy Learning Forum (PD SELF) programs now being conducted in ten different metropolitan areas in the US.
Finish Diane’s Article & Learn More About Self-efficacy
The remainder of Diane’s article and much more can be found in a powerful new edition of our free Every Victory Counts® manual. Our Every Victory Counts® manual gives people living with Parkinson’s, their care partners and their family members the tools they need to take control of their own Parkinson’s treatment through a proactive approach to self-care.
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