Increasing Collective Self-Efficacy in Despair

To succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy to struggle together with resilience to meet life’s inevitable obstacles and inequities. ~ Albert Bandura

As a nation, we all pass through anguish seeing and listening to what has happened and is happening.  Most of them may look insurmountable, paving the way for feelings of hopelessness.  However, life’s challenges cannot be defeated with bleak low energy.  I firmly believe we need to increase our collective self-efficacy to face despair which will be transformative.  Because we are interconnected, individuals work on their beliefs and actions to change their realities has effects on our social actions.  A collective effort to change negative beliefs and practices in response to devastation will spare us from the detrimental effects of losing hope.

Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in her ability to accomplish tasks, overcome obstacles, and achieve desired outcomes. When facing despair, developing and nurturing a sense of self-efficacy to regain hope, resilience, and motivation is crucial.  This is easier said than done, but we can still choose to collectively address and fight against despair in our Country by taking lessons from increasing personal efficacy to communal efficacy.

The first thing we may need to increase our collective self-efficacy is to recognize and challenge our patterns of negative thoughts.  Despair often stems from negative thoughts and beliefs about oneself and the situation.  Therefore, becoming aware of these negative thoughts, actively challenging them, and replacing self-defeating beliefs with more positive and realistic ones is essential to dealing with the consequences of despair. For example, instead of thinking, “We can never overcome this,” replace it with, “We have faced multiple challenges before and found solutions. We can find ways through these too.”  This is not to say let us live in denial.  It means our despair overtakes us when we dwell on giving adverse and detrimental meaning to everything that happened. 

Once we break off negative beliefs, some challenges require practical solutions and setting realistic goals about the issues that led us to despair.  Life changes as we build trust and work on practical matters step by step towards our goals, whether abstract concepts like building peace or concrete deliverables like increasing agricultural food production.    

As it is essential to surround oneself with supportive people to increase one’s efficacy, it is mandatory that we build our community with a supportive network of friends, family, or professionals who can provide encouragement and guidance.  Sharing our struggles and receiving empathy can alleviate despair and help us see alternative perspectives and solutions.  A like-minded community is needed to encourage and support one another.  When we surround ourselves with chronic complainers about our situations, despair is inevitable, which takes us downward spiral.  That is why a community that acknowledges destruction yet focuses on capabilities to restore and learn from past mistakes takes us to move forward than dwell in the past.

As a nation, creating a mental blueprint that dwells on peace, which changes setbacks to opportunities, studying and learning from past failures, and engaging in activities that bring hope can foster resilience and allows us to bounce back from despair with greater strength.  We can draw meaning and purpose in our lives, even amid the devastation.  Let us reflect on our values, passions, and what brings us transformation. Engaging in acts of kindness, volunteering, or advocating for causes that resonate with us that align with our values and purpose can help us find hope and motivation to move forward.

In addition, let us practice self-compassion, as we have been through a lot.  Let us also acknowledge and celebrate our progress despite the destruction in so many ways.  Celebrating progress reinforces our belief in our abilities and motivates us to continue moving forward. We have a Country that persevered through civil wars.  However, to collectively increase our efficacy, we need to identify actions we can take, no matter how small, to contribute to our healing and the healing of others. By actively participating in creating positive change, we can regain a sense of control and hope.

However, we need to understand that healing and finding hope takes time.  Therefore, let us practice being patient with ourselves and the process. Accept that setbacks may occur, but they do not define our journey, and embrace the lessons learned from challenges to use them as stepping stones toward a hopeful future.

In conclusion, increasing collective self-efficacy in despair requires conscious effort, collective reflection, and resilience. By challenging negative thoughts, setting realistic goals, joining a support community, practicing self-compassion, focusing on past achievements, acting, embracing failure as feedback, and celebrating progress, we can gradually enhance our self-efficacy and navigate through despair with renewed strength and hope. Self-efficacy is not built overnight, but through consistent practice and belief in our collective abilities of perseverance and remaining open to the possibilities of healing and renewal, we can foster hope in the face of devastation and move towards a brighter future.

By Seble Hailu

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