“I think I can, I think I can,” said The Little Engine That Could. This sweet sentiment about the power of believing in yourself gets a storybook train up a hill. A happy ending in a children’s book is one thing, but how does it measure up in real life? Can believing we will be successful actually assist in creating that success?

Self-efficacy is an idea researched and championed by psychologist Albert Bandura, and is defined as the extent to which a person believes in their own competence. A simplified version of this might be the saying “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Jupiter and Self-Efficacy Beliefs
In astrology, Jupiter is the cosmic YES. Jupiter deals in the currencies of hope, faith, optimism, enthusiasm, potential, expansion, and confidence. When we take a risk in hopes that it will lead to good things that we can only visualize, we call on Jupiter. Jupiter is the planet of luck, but it’s not always passive. Lucky people simply say yes to the Universe’s nudges more often. They open the door when opportunity knocks.

Jupiter’s location in our own chart can reveal some natural talents and even the ways in which we underestimate what we’re really capable of; it reveals how and where we need to say yes to ourselves and the Universe more often. Yes doesn’t always sound like “yes!” Sometimes it sounds like “maybe I can do this” or “what if?”

The astrological symbolism of the Jupiter principle is reflected in the power of positive self-efficacy beliefs. It turns out, when we think we can succeed, we may actually increase our chances of achieving that success.

How self-efficacy beliefs affect our success
One of the deciding factors in deciding to undertake a task or set a goal is whether or not we think we will succeed. We visualize scenarios in our minds in an effort to try and determine how likely our success is. If we have no hope of success, we won’t commit to something. These visualizations don’t determine whether we will be successful, but they illustrate whether we think we’ll be successful.

Yet, this is a critical step. Our self-efficacy beliefs matter so much because the visualizations we create can stem from our belief in our competence and in turn, our actions or inactions stem from these visualizations. People with high self-efficacy beliefs are more likely to envision successful scenarios whereas people with low self-efficacy beliefs tend to focus on visualizations which emphasize what may go wrong. “What’s the worst that could happen?” we may ask ourselves, and how we answer this question is a measure of self-efficacy.

People with high self-efficacy beliefs also tend to be more willing to undertake a challenging goal and persist in their efforts to overcome obstacles when striving for their goal because they have a strong belief in their own competence. They are more likely to bounce back more quickly from setbacks and self-doubts that setbacks may generate. People with low self-efficacy beliefs are less likely to undertake difficult tasks and are more likely to rate difficult tasks with higher levels of impossibility. They also don’t recover from setbacks as easily and lose faith in their capabilities more quickly, giving up before the task is accomplished or more readily accepting a moderate success (a consolation prize) in place of what they truly want.

Belief = Success?
Most of us realize that our own attitudes about ourselves have a strong effect on how we experience life. It’s important to realize that one’s belief about oneself doesn’t determine skill or guarantee success or failure objectively. A high level of self-confidence doesn’t create skill in the absence of training, experience, or some degree of natural talent, but our belief in ourselves and our own abilities can serve as a springboard for our motivations, which can lead to actions, which can lead to accomplishments. Self-efficacy beliefs affect thought patterns that may be self-aiding or self-hindering.

It is widely believed that misjudgment produces dysfunction. Certainly, gross miscalculation can create problems. However, optimistic self-appraisals of capability that are not unduly disparate from what is possible can be advantageous, whereas veridical judgments can be self limiting. When people err in their self-appraisals, they tend to overestimate their capabilities.

This is a benefit rather than a cognitive failing to be eradicated. If self-efficacy beliefs always reflected only what people could do routinely, they would rarely fail but they would not mount the extra effort needed to surpass their ordinary performances. –  Human Agency in Social Cognitive Theory Bandura, Albert

If Indiana Jones didn’t think he could make it across the chasm in a leap of faith and take that risk, the holy grail might never have been found!

Jupiter in Virgo
Jupiter is traveling through the sign of Virgo from August 11, 2015 until September 9th, 2016. Grandiose Jupiter traveling through the humble sign of Virgo may seem like an ill fit, but in fact, this is an opportunity to grow in ways that are measurable, an invitation to increase our competence through efficient and consistent progress. Virgo has a great deal of respect for process and hard work. Jupiter in Virgo is where the rubber meets the road, where confidence and faith gain traction to actually create real results.

We can think of Jupiter as our cosmic life coach, encouraging us to reach for the stars, to try what we haven’t before, and brave that risk to make a potential, a dream, come true. In Virgo, Jupiter isn’t just a cheerleader; it has real homework for you. Where Virgo lies in your chart represents the area(s) of life where small, persistent steps will make all the difference over the next year. As astrologer Molly Hall says, “Jupiter in Virgo is a path of being happy when productive.  Some trust comes with this transit, that if there’s a regular investment in your work, the lucky breaks will come.

genius-is-1-inspiration-and

Enough is Not Quite Enough
With all the good things that a high level of self-efficacy seems to bring, it sounds like we would all be best served by embracing a delusional self-confidence. True, the location of this ‘gas giant’ can also reveal where we might just be full of hot air, so to speak. There are obviously problems that arise on the opposite end of the spectrum when we hugely overestimate our abilities, such as constantly promising what we can’t deliver and perpetually failing in that which we were sure we would succeed.

Our self-assessment is subjective, and a higher level of self-efficacy belief can serve to motivate and inspire us, making us more willing to stretch ourselves, try new things, and reach for our potential–all experiences that are at the heart of what Jupiter represents. Low self-efficacy beliefs actually discourage growth because we are reluctant to risk; we believe we will fail before we’ve even begun. Research seems to show that a level of self-efficacy which is just above our actual ability is optimal, because it pushes us to strive for the possible but without a delusion that we are superhuman. If you believe you can fly, strive for it! But don’t leap blindly off a building and literally expect wings to grow from your back. That’s a metaphor, folks. Jupiter in Virgo is not about inflated self-confidence but about the real ways we can turn our belief in ourselves into real action.

Apply it!
How high is your self-efficacy? How can you increase it? Here’s an interesting (non-scientific) quiz you can take to get the conversation with yourself started.

Where is Jupiter lighting up your chart? Share in the comments!

Don’t know where Jupiter is pushing you to fly? Create your free chart at astro.com


References:

There’s a lot more nuance to this idea of self-efficacy, including more precise definitions, what kinds of things our self-efficacy rating may be based on, and the difference between self-efficacy and just general self-confidence. Check out these sources to find out more:

What is Self-Efficacy? by Kendra Cherry

Self-Efficacy by Albert Bandura

Human Agency in Social Cognitive Theory by Albert Bandura

Generalized Self-Efficacy (GSE) is differentiated from Bandura’s definition of Self-Efficacy. The former centers on the idea of general confidence in one’s abilities in a variety of situations, whereas Bandura’s definition is said to be situationally specific. See Measuring General Self-Efficacy.

Many beliefs are tied to our self-efficacy rating, such as our self-esteem, or how much control we believe we have over the events in our lives (locus of control). 

“I think I can” canvas art is created by and available from Red Bicycle Designs.

The resilience of our belief in our self-efficacy is what’s especially important. One can always get a shot of confidence in the arm, but those who tend toward high levels of belief in themselves over the long term tend to be able to persist where others give up.

It’s also important to realize that one’s self-efficacy beliefs can be influenced in a number of ways, not just by one’s own personal belief, but also by the positive reinforcement and encouragement we get from others. This is a reason why support groups can actually work.

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