Now that spring is here, you’re probably feeling more energy after an endless winter. You’re looking at the setbacks you’ve had over the past few months. Things haven’t felt right for a while. It’s as if you’ve been pushing a boulder uphill every day for months. You’re looking toward spring and summer with some sense of hope that sun and more daylight will help you reset and recharge.
That’s why we need to talk about the factor that’s going to make or break how you bounce back. I also want to introduce you to Jenni Prokopy, the founder of ChronicBabe.com, an on-line community dedicated to empowering young women with chronic illness. She is a fantastic example of figuring out how to kick ass despite huge challenges.
Before we go any further, let’s clearly establish something: Everyone falls down. Yes, some people’s falls are far more devastating. However, everyone will, at some point, fall down and have to figure out how, or if, to bounce back.
Everyone wonders how they are going to bounce back. The difference is that some people will bounce back while others will stay in a rut. The factor that makes this difference is self-efficacy.
What is Self-Efficacy?
Self-efficacy is a fancy pants term for believing in your ability to succeed and get stuff done despite challenges you’re facing. People who have a high level of self-efficacy tend to be happier, healthier, and more successful because they don’t give up. Self-efficacy impacts every area of your life because the stronger your belief, the less likely you are to throw in the towel when the going gets tough. I’m not saying you won’t be sad, mad, anxious, or depressed. I’m saying you’ll eventually be able to pick yourself up and keep moving because you believe in your ability to make a difference. People with low self-efficacy don’t think their efforts are going to change anything, so they give up quicker.
This idea is really important when it comes to managing anxiety and depression. If you believe you can make your life better, then you will continue to work toward taking control of your life even when it feels like the anxiety and/or depression are kicking your butt. If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s going to be harder to trust you can handle what the anxiety and/or depression throw your way.
Sometimes, it’s so hard to have faith in yourself. But even an ounce of believing in yourself is worth its weight in gold.
How to Get Back On Track
Even if you have been feeling beat up by life for a long time, it is never too late to make things better for yourself. Any positive action is progress. Here are three things you can do starting right now to improve your ability to bounce back, keep going, and make a difference:
1) Pick something you are good at and do it. Then do it again tomorrow. We gain confidence by doing things we’re good at over and over again. It’s ok for it to be something simple like writing in a journal or going for a walk every day. It doesn’t need to involve an infographic or PowerPoint presentation (although if that’s your thing, then by all means…).
2) Look for role models and learn from them. Humans are social creatures. We gain confidence by looking at people who have lived through similar circumstances and learning from them. This is one of the reasons that support groups and blogs about different situations are so successful. We want and need to hear that people who are facing similar challenges are succeeding at having a life. It gives us hope that we can eventually do the same.
3) Give yourself a pep talk before doing something that scares you. Remind yourself that you have kicked butt in similar situations and there is no proof that anything has changed. If you are doing something completely new, remind yourself you have jumped off of cliffs before. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you don’t. But, you always manage to get up the courage to try again. That’s huge.
I am going to help you do Suggestion 2 right now…
Introducing Jenni Prokopy and Her Battle Cry
Jenni is the founder of the on-line community, ChronicBabe.com. In 1997, at the age of 25, she was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. More diagnoses, including anxiety, followed. She decided to use her situation to change the conversation about young women with chronic illness. Through her work, she empowers a group that usually feels isolated and desperate to build a full life beyond illness.
This year, Jenni’s new insurer took away the FDA-approved Fibromyalgia medication that was working and made her undergo a process called Step Therapy. Jenni was taken off of the medication that worked and put on a series of less costly medications. She had to fail on each one before she could appeal to go back on the medication she was originally taking. This process took months and sent Jenni’s health into a black hole. She lost years’ worth of progress.
Jenni won her fourth appeal but her insurance company still isn’t paying for her medication. So, how is she bouncing back? Jenni is choosing to channel her anger to do something positive. She and her doctors are petitioning her insurance company and she is encouraging people to get involved in the fight against Step Therapy. If you would like to learn more about Jenni and her efforts, click on this link:
How’s that for a great example of strong self-efficacy?
Decide you are going to believe in yourself. Stand up and keep going. Any step forward is progress.
Please share or forward this if you know someone this will help.
Talk to you soon.
Dr. Ronit Levy