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I Think I Can: Jupiter in Virgo & Self-Efficacy

“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.


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


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.

Jupiter square Neptune: Elusive Greatness

When I was in my early twenties, I was a Sarah McLachlan – Lilith Fair fan. When the last tour in 1999 skipped over my town, I took some friends and went to a neighboring state to see one of their last tour stops. As the show on the main stage was coming to a close, almost every performer was up on stage with Sarah, singing in harmony together. It was certainly a magic moment. It was so high that maybe I hit the top of the metaphorical roller coaster and had to come down on the other side. So a thought occurred to me in the midst of this great moment: “I’ll never be great.”

The thought crushed me and brought tears to my eyes. Thoughts along similar lines have occurred since, but that was the first one that really struck like an arrow. I’d had the momentum of youth and the recent discovery of my calling as an astrologer really going for me, keeping me high on dreams of the future.  At the time, the Sun, in all it’s magnificence, was squaring my Neptune in the 11th house, triggering it’s natal square to my Jupiter (2nd house).

In hindsight and on paper, it looks like that wasn’t true. When I was first set on fire by the discovery of astrology, I knew I was going to write a book about it. And 15 years later, I did. Win. Case closed. But having been post book for 3-4 years now, and entered into the dark and currently aimless forest of midlife, that seems a distant memory, almost another life. And I find myself singing a new version of the “I’ll never be great” tune, entitled “I’ll never be as great as I was.”

After these crushing blows, I’ve shaken them off, and readjusted my expectations of what Great looks like. I’m certainly not the Sarah McLachlan of astrology. Youthful expectations of grandeur have long since fallen away, but every step down from the impossible left a bruise. Although they’ve been challenging, they’ve helped me to find a level of greatness that is personalized to what I want, who I am, and what I can achieve. I’ve realized that I don’t want to prioritize my career above all else, all the time. I’ve realized that I don’t want to be a famous astrologer,* traveling to exotic locations every other week to lecture at conferences because I’m in such high demand. While I love to travel, leaving my family so often is more painful year after year, and performing for strangers nearly undoes my introverted soul every time. So I have readjusted to the reality of what I want and what I’m willing to do for what I want, and have found a happy medium for most of my career so far.

“Which brings me closer to my point,” says this little Gemini south node girl. One such adjustment actually occurred in an epiphany that was such a turning point for me, I dedicated my book to the source of it. I was at Disneyland with my husband (hello Jupiter-square-Neptune-land…the perfect setting) and to get out of the heat, we were stopping in all kinds of little booths and shows that we hadn’t ever considered before. One stop was a dark theater where they played a brief show about Walt Disney’s life and how things led up to Disneyland. As I watched, it struck me just how hungry, enthusiastic, and entrepreneurial Walt was, and how willing to risk, and how it was those things that drove him, not greatness. He didn’t want to be great, he wanted to do his thing. Suddenly, how to be great didn’t matter. Just doing my thing, in every way I can, was all I needed to worry about.

So now I’m going to admit something a lot less inspiring. I had a little-league epiphany recently while playing a video card game. I usually spend ‘coins’ to get advantages in the game, such as extra cards or hints throughout the game. I realized that I do really poorly when I used the advantages that tell me which cards to play and when, but I do really well when I just add the equivalent of rocket boosters to the natural technique I’ve already got going. I’ve noticed this in other games too. Help sometimes isn’t help, because it throws off my natural instincts. I’m looking to the advantage to tell me what to do and losing my connection to myself while I do that. I remember once I had a data entry intensive job, with lots of keyboard shortcuts I had memorized. I left it to do another job, but it didn’t work out, so I came back about a year later or so. When I stopped to remember those keyboard shortcuts or look at a cheat sheet, my fingers fumbled. But when I stayed in the path of intention, just willing my body to do what I knew it already knew how to do and just being in the moment of will, my fingers did their job perfectly.

So what’s the damn point? There might not be a singular tunnel to meaning here. But I’m thinking about Jupiter in Pisces in my 2nd house square Neptune in Sagittarius in the 11th house and how often that sets me up for “delusions of grandeur”. The fuzzy dream (Neptune) of greatness (Jupiter), measured in the public eye (11th house) and manifesting because of my sheer awesomeness of skill. of awesomness (2nd house). How I look to others to reflect that back to me (Venus opposes Jupiter and squares Neptune too) and it never quite works. How the humbling experiences of reality checks actually turn out to be my best moments (Saturn trines my Jupiter and is my chart ruler) because then I finally get some traction and feel like this dream is now with my reach to actually work on (Saturn’s in my 6th house of the daily process of actual work – the kind that’s messy, mediocre, and mundane, but really pays off in the end).

So, in conclusion, this means … stuff.

*My mentor, Steven Forrest, once said something like ‘saying you’re a famous astrologer is about as meaningful as saying you’re the president of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.’ Or something like that. It was funny. Maybe you had to be there.

Jupiter in Astrology: Looking Beyond Luck

Jupiter isolatedMany think of Jupiter as the planet of luck. This is true, but the word 'luck' sells Jupiter short, telling only half of the story. Luck is defined as something desirable that just happens to a person by chance, out of their control, fated. It is true that where Jupiter lies in our chart might be an area of our life where we might find a sort of guardian angel at work, or where we may be able to narrowly slip out of scrapes more easily than some people. But the things we attribute to luck, good or bad, can often be more attributed to what we said yes or no to, the potential we allowed ourselves to see and hope for, in ourselves and in life's ability to bring good things our way.

Psychologist Richard Wiseman has been investigating luck for a decade: who thinks they've got it (or doesn't) and why? Over the years he interviewed 400 different people from both camps, lucky and unlucky, and asked them to try different experiments and report their results. He found themes among the lucky and the unlucky, and not only that; he was able to use what he discovered in the attitudes and behaviors of the lucky to help the unlucky camp become luckier. In his recent article posted on the GoodNewsNetwork, he outlined some of his cases and what we found, stating three similarities he found in the lucky vs. the unlucky. They were:

  1. Unlucky people often fail to follow their intuition
  2. Unlucky people tend to be creatures of routine
  3. Lucky people tend to see the positive side of their ill fortune

Let's look at these ideas. First, following one's intuition. While Neptune or the Moon tend to be thought of as the planets that have the market on intuition, Jupiter is the ancient ruler of Pisces, a sign which has very much to do with intuition and believing in things that can only be seen through the eyes of spirit. Jupiter plays a special role, too, because of the faith it takes to trust one's intuition and even to act on it. Faith in this context is believing in things unseen or unproven, and that's where the Jupiterian principle of hope can come in, or a word I like to use, potential. This is not just faith in a higher power, but faith in ourselves as in confidence, or faith in life as in hope.

Door with clouds How about the pitfalls of becoming too reliant on a routine? We may think of Uranus as the planet that likes to shake things up, but Jupiter is about looking for opportunity. Jupiter is the ancient and modern ruler of Sagittarius, embodying the Saggittarian desire to expand its horizons by experiencing the broad world around it. When we are so deeply invested in our routine and our own comfort zone, we are reluctant to upset it, and therefore unwilling to take the inherent risks always involved in saying yes to something new. In addition, routine has us focusing so intently on carrying out our expectations that we may only see what we expect to see, rather than opportunities that may have always been present but are not in our narrow line of sight.

Last, seeing the positive side of one's ill fortune was the third factor Dr. Wiseman listed as present in 'lucky' people. This speaks to Jupiter's alignment with optimism. It's the classic question: is the glass half full or half empty? Either answer is true, but much is revealed in which answer a person most resonates with. Luck and whether or not a person feels lucky is rather subjective, so this is point is less about the objective measurement of how lucky someone is, but almost a measure of happiness. It's human nature to look for evidence that confirms our existing beliefs and ignore evidence that does not. So if one holds a belief that they are (or can be) lucky, openness to opportunity and gratitude for what one already has seems to follow.

The Big Leap is a book that focuses on overcoming your limitations by addressing  the attitudes and beliefs you may hold that keep you from expanding into your potential. The author, Gay Hendricks, speaks about his mentor who said something that really impacted him (paraphrasing): when we are afraid, we hold our breath. The most important thing to do when you are afraid is breathe. When you hold your breath, it's like you're bracing for impact. When you breathe into your fear, it becomes excitement. Next time Jupiter comes your way, take a breath and take a leap!

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