The ability to bounce – coping with life's problems

Bouncing Boy
Image via Wikipedia

Losing your job can be a major blow to your self confidence and it can be difficult to bounce back.  This can be much worse if you are someone who has found it difficult to cope with life’s problems in the past

Coping with life’s problems successfully needs you to have realistic expectations. Psychologists call these expectations, and the judgements you make based on them, ‘appraisals’.  Things that happen to us aren’t a problem unless we judge them to be.

Life is never perfect and problems, including losing your job these days, are a part of normal, everyday life. If our judgements (appraisals) are realistic, we’re much better able to deal with them and not let them throw us off-balance.

The appraisals we make come from our belief system. If we hold unrealistic beliefs, then our judgements may not be the best for the situation.

Sometimes we have unrealistic beliefs about what we must or should do.  We want to be “perfect”.  “Everyone must like me “or “I’ve got to be good at everything” for example. If you think about these for a minute, they are irrational beliefs. Who do you know who could really achieve them?

Another approach!

When you are aware of this, it is possible to substitute an irrational judgement with something more positive?

If someone treats you rudely, you could think what a rotten person they are.  Or you could think “See, everyone does dislike me!”  But another view could be.  “I wonder what happened to that person today to make them behave like that?”

But it is important to follow up these ‘primary appraisals’!  We need to ask ourselves afterwards if there’s anything we can do about a particular event that has caused distress – a “secondary appraisal”.

If we feel helpless to change things, or incompetent when facing challenges, then we’re less likely to come up with a suitable way to handle things.


People who have a confident belief that the responses they make to life’s challenges have a meaningful effect (self efficacy), are able to face problems with energy!  This means they bounce back easily.

But how do you develop this belief?

Self-efficacy comes from life experiences and being with others who already have the belief. It’s built up over the years by responding to challenges with action, flexibility and persistence.

But how can we increase our self-efficacy?  Well here are some suggestions:

  1. Set some goals for your life. If we don’t have goals, how can we succeed? Set some goals for your life, and give yourself credit when you achieve them.
  2. Make your goals challenging but realistic enough so you’ll be able to reach them. Set some simple goals to start with, that are fairly easy to achieve and then build on them.
  3. Find some good role models. They don’t have to be someone you know, but find someone you admire and you could learn from.
  4. Talk yourself positive. Take time to observe how you think about yourself.  Start praising your success in your own mind and make a decision to stop putting yourself down.  Admit that, like all of us, you have faults and stop belittling yourself for them.  Instead build yourself up for the smallest successes.
  5. Remember it takes energy and effort to succeed.  Be like an athlete, train yourself to win


People with a good support system are more successful at overcoming life’s problems.

Are there people you can count on to listen to you when you need to talk? Can you speak to them frankly, without worrying about what you say? And are there people in your life you can count on to support you in major decisions?

Why not arrange to see old friends and family members.  You will find most people will take an interest in you if you show a real interest in them first.

Don’t wait for things to get better, take the first step – taking action gives us an increased feeling of competence and self-esteem. Taking action raises our self-efficacy!

I think I can, I know I can! Self Efficacy and the Value of Self Belief

Albert Bandura

We seem to spend an awful lot of time talking and thinking about development.

Developing as a human being involves taking responsibility for ourselves, gaining focus and determining that we want to live a life of some purpose.  We have dreams, and we develop and work towards goals.

A key factor in whether we achieve our goals is the development of self-efficacy. 

Self- efficacy is a term used in psychology and it roughly corresponds to a person’s belief in their own competence. It is believed that our ideas of self-efficacy affect our social interactions in almost every way.

Understanding how to foster the development of self-efficacy is vitally important because it can lead to living a more productive and happy life.

Psychologist Albert Bandura has defined self-efficacy as one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations.

One’s sense of self-efficacy can play a major role in how one approaches goals, tasks, and challenges. According to Bandura, people who believe they can perform well, are more likely to view difficult tasks as something to be mastered rather than something to be avoided.

Bandura points to four sources affecting self-efficacy;

Experience – success raises self-efficacy, failure lowers it.

Modelling – “If they can do it, I can do it too!” When people see someone succeeding at something, their self-efficacy will increase; and where they see people failing, their self-efficacy will decrease.

Social Persuasions – encouragement/discouragement – most people remember times where something said to them significantly altered their confidence.

Physiological Factors – In unusual and stressful situations, people commonly exhibit signs of distress. A person’s perceptions of this, can markedly alter a person’s self-efficacy. If a person gets ‘butterflies in the stomach’ before public speaking, those with low self-efficacy may take this as a sign of their own inability, while those with high self-efficacy are likely to take these signs as normal and unrelated to their actual ability. Thus, a belief in the implications of the physiological response alters self-efficacy

The implications of self-efficacy for us as leaders and managers are enormous. We are all searching for ways to help people learn more effectively and be more productive.

By understanding how to help influence people to develop a positive mental assessment of their abilities, it is possible for us to create work environments that provide the necessary feedback and support for individuals. This should allow more people to develop high levels of self-efficacy that will translate into increased productivity.

Also, the stress of life can be at times intolerable, but those with high self-efficacy seem to be more able to live stress-free lives that are rewarding and happy.

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 .