Resilience I: Self-esteem vs. Self-Efficacy

I recently finished reading  Andrew Shatte’s and Karen Reivich’s book entitled The Resilience Factor – 7 Essential Skills for Overcoming Life’s Inevitable Obstacles.  I found the book incredibly useful as it provides a formulaic approach to understanding the reasons why certain events trigger certain emotions, and to develop constructive ways to work through those events / emotions.  Since adversity is a constant factor in people’s lives, improving one’s resilience is critically important for future successes – both professional and personal.

Now having closed a rather turbulent period of my life, I felt the time was right to take additional steps to improve my resilience.  While my creative abilities allowed me to manage through this period in a constructive way, I felt there were some core lessons I was still missing and needed to develop.  When I stumbled upon this book, I knew that this was the piece that was missing from that journey.

Towards the beginning of the book, the authors make several key points that really set the stage for the remainder of the text.  They talk about the need to focus less on developing self-esteem and more so on self-efficacy.  There is a difference as one is a by-product of the other:

“…self-esteem is the by-product of doing well in life – meeting challenges, solving problems, struggling and not giving up.  You will feel good about yourself when you do well in the world.  That is healthy self-esteem.  Many people and many programs, however, try to bolster self-esteem directly by encouraging us to [...] believe that we can do anything we set our mind to.  The fatal flaw with this approach is that it is simply not true.  We cannot do anything we want in life, regardless of how many time we tell ourselves how special and wonderful we are and regardless of how determined we are to make it so.”

The authors go on to discuss why self-efficacy is the first step to building self-esteem:

“We know that as people start to build a track record of small successes by solving problems, self-efficacy follows naturally.”

The skills taught in The Resilience Factor equip one with tools to solve the problems in one’s life and to meet the challenges that confront her/him.  These tools allow one to develop self-efficacy, which ultimately translates into greater feelings of self-esteem.  And it’s this unique combination that can empower people to do even more with their lives and experience greater joy from the lives they already have.

The book “works” because of the numerous anecdotal examples presented throughout the text.  In fact, the book’s lessons are best assimilated by using them when adversity strikes.  The adage “practice makes perfect” is indeed valid here.

In my next post on this subject, I’ll introduce a few key points from the text along with some personal examples to illustrate just how well these tools truly work.

Related Article: Recalibration I

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