Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Self-belief: thinking positively about yourself and your abilities

What is a self-belief?

Self-beliefWhat is Self-Belief?

Self-belief (or self-efficacy) is a person’s belief in their ability to complete tasks and to achieve their goals (Bandura, 1995).

  • Judging yourself to be capable of success increases your chances of actual success. 
  • Judging yourself as not capable of success reduces the chance of success.

What self-belief is not

Self-belief means that you should have enough self-confidence to change, but not over-estimate your abilities, as that could become a fixed mindset attitude.

You should be willing to grow and adapt but still have ideas about your strengths and weaknesses so that you can work on the weaker areas.

Adapted from: University of Queensland (2019) Self-esteem and self-confidence. Available at: (Accessed: 14 May 2020)

As the Athletic Director and head coach of the Varsity Soccer team at Ryerson University, Dr. Joseph is often asked what skills he is searching for as a recruiter: is it speed? Strength? Agility?

In Dr. Joseph's TEDx Talk, he explores self confidence and how it is not just the most important skill in athletics, but in our lives.

MindTools      This quiz from MindTools (scroll down the page a little) will assess how self-confident you are

Watch the following clip and think about what the main character says to his son a speech about resilience and self-belief.

Now consider the following:

  • What does he say?
At first:

Yeah, I don't know, you know. You'll probably be about as good as I was. That's kind of the way it works, you know. I was below average. You know, so you'll probably ultimately rank...somewhere around there, you know, so... You'll excel at a lot of things, just not this. I don't want you shooting this ball all day and night.

On seeing his son's reaction to the above speech:

Hey. Don't ever let somebody tell can't do something. Not even me...You got a gotta protect it. People can't do something themselves...they wanna tell you you can't do it. If you want something, go get it. Period. Let's go.

  • What does he say or how does he think differently to you?
The main character presents two different attitudes towards possible future success. If you lack self-confidence, you may have identified more with the first attitude of not believing that his son could be good at basketball because he hadn't been a good player himself. As you gain in self-belief, you should be able to identify more with the second attitude of recognising that he should be more positive about his son's possible achievements.
  • Are there possible lessons there for you?
Depending on your situation, possible lessons may be:
  • Recognise the importance of not giving up
  • Believe that you have the skills to do well
  • The value of listening to feedback and trying again
  • Don't let one bad experience get you down
  • Believe in yourself and your dream
  • Believe that you can achieve things if you work at them.

Adapted from: Open University (n.d.) Self-efficacy and self-esteem – what’s the difference? Available at: (Accessed: 18 May 2020).