What is self-efficacy and how can it help you reduce climate anxiety while making a difference?
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Self-efficacy is the way we talk about climate action at Soapbox Project. It’s the powerful idea that taking action helps you feel better! Verywell Mind defines it for us:
“Self-efficacy is a person's belief in their ability to complete a task or achieve a goal. It encompasses a person's confidence in themselves to control their behavior, exert an influence over their environment, and stay motivated in the pursuit of their goal.”
So, how can we practice self-efficacy in our everyday lives?
Here’s what we’ll cover step-by-step:
If climate anxiety and the uncertainty that comes with climate change keeps you up at night, we’re here to help!
🎯 Action step 1 of 4: READ — Let's start by looking at a few articles together.
The impact of climate anxiety on our mental health has been in several ongoing conversations. It’s now important more than ever to practice self-efficacy in building resiliency and reducing anxiety.
You’ll see that:
In less jargony terms: even if saying no to one plastic straw, for example, “doesn’t really matter” in the grand scheme of things, it does matter in reducing anxiety, which can free you up to take more meaningful action! 🎉
Staying motivated in the pursuit of our goal — in this case, a healthy, safe, joyful planet — is critical. When we don’t have a strong sense of self-efficacy, we are more likely to give up. And when we give up, well, we’ve seen the damage done to our planet even in our own lifetimes thanks to the Bad Guys winning.
Taking on little personal responsibility “quests” in your climate action journey (like composting, bringing your own cup to a coffee shop, or saying no to a straw) can go a long way to building self-efficacy.
In the meantime, read this article on self-efficacy to learn more about why believing in yourself matters, how to evaluate your self-efficacy, and how to build this into your life. WE CAN DO THIS!
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 1 of 4: READ.
🎯 Action step 2 of 4: LISTEN — we'll watch a short video or listen to a podcast to further expand on our topic.
Let’s talk about extending your life. The little voice in your head may be asking, “What the heck does this have to do with social change?”
IMMORTALITY IS EVERYTHING!
Just kidding. This is not (for better or for worse) a pro-immortality article. Instead, we’re going to talk about how to design your life as a game, maximize your self-efficacy, and take control of your choices.
In this TED talk below, Jane McGonigal, a game designer, talks about how she emerged from a life-threatening brain injury with her new healing tool: a game she invented called SuperBetter.
We HIGHLY recommend the book; the TED talk is basically a condensed version.
Essentially, games can have incredible benefits to our mental health, relationships to others, and our own sense of self-efficacy.
You’ll learn that:
As a bonus, when we play games, we can boost our physical, mental, social, and emotional resilience. There’s evidence that people who regularly boost those four types of resilience live 10 years longer than everyone else! So let’s live long, prosper, and save the earth. 🌍
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 2 of 4: LISTEN.
🎯 Action step 3 of 4: ACT — Now it's time to do something. Let's go!
Remember: self-efficacy is a fancy word for our belief that we CAN make a difference. Here are five things you can do without waiting for anyone else to get on board!
1. Join a community of people who care about climate action.
Our community is waiting for you! When you join a cohort at Soapbox Project, you get an experience that helps you figure out your personal action goals, build accountability, and work towards collective change, all while having a great time. If you’re looking for a friendly, welcoming space that meets you where you are, learn and take action with us!
2. Go to an Hour of Action: a policy advocacy session with Climate Changemakers.
Soapbox isn’t the only climate community out there. Contrary to what capitalism might think, we love recommending other communities! Climate Changemakers is an absolute menace to fossil fuel companies — during their Hours of Action, we band together to dismantle harmful legislature, push for clean, justice-forward change, and take policy action in a non-scary way. Learn more here.
3. Start a journaling habit.
You can even get a free weekly journaling prompt through The Climate Journal Project, an organization that focuses on helping people cope with climate grief and anxiety. In your journal, you can even document one small action you’re taking every day towards a healthier planet, even if you think it’s too tiny to make a difference!
4. Take 2 minutes to become a micro-philanthropist.
There’s no easier way to take small, committed actions than to hook up your wallet to save the earth! Download Gen E on your phone to round up every purchase to support environmental causes. If it’s not available in your country, the solution is simple: set up recurring monthly donations to an org of your choice!
5. Brag about your daily actions.
The most important thing you can do is talk about the climate crisis and what you’re doing about it. You don’t need to change anyone’s mind or confront people to create change — all you have to do is plant seeds of inspiration. Started composting? Share a picture on IG explaining why! Followed a new awesome newsletter? Tell your friends! Got your wedding dress secondhand? Tweet about it until large publications offer to cover your wedding (true story). Remember, you can always tag us @soapboxproject when you want to share something planet-friendly.
Remember, no action is too small. We are building our collective muscle to feel better while doing better, and there’s something so magical about that. 🪄💕
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 3 of 4: ACT.
Before we go any further, it's time for you to pledge your commitment. It takes less than 30 seconds to pledge and we can bother you about it in a friendly way, so we can hold each other accountable. Pledge here!
🎯 Action step 4 of 4: REFLECT — what can you commit to? What fresh perspectives can we look at?
While it may not seem like it, you’re an inspiration to us and others around you. Even reading this article is a first step! To get your brains flowing, here’s a quick and easy journal prompt for you to reflect on your climate impact. Step 1) think of ANY climate action you have ever taken, and step 2) write it down.
Step 1: Some examples can include…
Yes 4/5 of those are about flowers but our point is ANY action is valid!
Step 2: Submit your action and share it with our community! Click here or on the image below.
This takes less than 2 minutes — unless you’re writing a whole essay, which we would love as well. It’ll be an AMAZING way for us to see what other Soapbox readers are up to, get some inspiration, and share these ideas with our community to create our personal climate action checklists!
We’ll leave you with a parting link to 7 resources to help you cope with climate anxiety by Dr. Britt Wray and Dr. Katharine Wilkinson. Remember to be kind to yourself and give yourself space to feel. Please know that you’re not alone — your voice and individual actions matter!
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 4 of 4: REFLECT.
Check out our membership community for more resources like free weekly events with social justice experts, sustainable product discounts, pre-written email templates, a social impact job board, and in-person hangouts with new friends. Thanks for taking action with Soapbox Project!
Get our free bite-sized climate action plans before you go!