Dear Life Matters,
I read your column about teaching kids to have self-efficacy. I think I suffer from the lack of self-efficacy, but I don’t have self-esteem issues. I am a self-employed hairstylist who is struggling because I don’t like to approach people about my services. I am outgoing and a lot of fun and my friends tell me that I have everything it takes to be a huge success in whatever I decide to do in life — looks, brains, business savvy — but I can’t get going. I am afraid that people will turn me down and not like me and I know that it’s in my head. Question: How do I get over myself? Am I in my own way?
Need to Get Over Myself
Dear Need to Get Over Myself,
I think you are being a tad hard on yourself. You actually describe a number of nice attributes and you say that your friends seem quite complimentary of you. So I suggest that you calm down and let’s rethink this.
The issue here actually does not sound like a problem with self-efficacy.
Perhaps I did not explain it well enough in my first article that you read, but at the same time it actually is a complicated concept that is based on considerable research, one that is difficult to truly explain in a brief column like this.
Simply put, self-efficacy is about a sense of self, a belief about oneself. It is a knowing that you can be effective at something or that you are effective as a person. You say that you are effective in your skills as a hairdresser and you know it. Your friendship skills seem adequate. And you sound like you do believe in yourself. If I read you right, you believe that you would be very competent and successful if the customers would just come.
The issue you raise about creating a clientele is a marketing issue. Some people are good at selling themselves, others are not, and so I see where your question comes from. However, most people would find it difficult to go up to a stranger and say let me cut your hair because I am terrific at it.
And it is probably all the more so here in Los Angeles where either our bodies or our hair is so important.
You need a marketing strategy and if you can’t sell yourself somehow, then you probably need to get some marketing help. Once you are up and running, word of mouth will take over. But you have to first make yourself visible.
The Issue you raised really seems to be more about a fear of rejection. What really captured my attention was your statement that you are afraid people will turn you down and not like you, but you know that it is all in your head.
First off, what is in your head is everything. “As a man thinketh, so he is!” If we think it, we feel it and we generally behave accordingly. To say it is just in my head is really something you need to take a second look at.
Realizing that this fear you have may just be in your head, but because it is in your head you obviously believe it and you are behaving as if it is true, is the first step.
The belief seems to be that you will be rejected if you try to sell yourself or reach out. If I were you I would ask myself who in your past has put you down or rejected you in this way.
We are not born with these types of feelings and beliefs. We learn them as we go along in life, so something or someone contributed to this fear you have.
It is amazing how just one or two people can cause us to believe things about ourselves. However, if we are young and developmentally impressionable or if they are fairly important people to us, the beliefs will take hold.
I suggest that you think about this seriously and ask yourself if you really want to allow whatever situations or people to continue to have this effect on you. If not, you can begin testing your belief; there is a very good chance that it is a false one. Test it a little bit at a time, but if you find that you can’t get over it, that it just goes too deep or is just too scary to do on your own, get yourself some counseling.
Good luck and thank you for your question and for reading Life Matters.
Dr. JoAnne Barge is a licensed psychologist and licensed marriage and family therapist with offices in Brentwood. Visit her at www.drbarge.com or send your anonymous questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Have something on your mind? Let us help you with your life matters, because it does!