Three years ago, I completed my first Ironman. I had years of not only physical training for that event but also mental strength. A lot of that build-up was even just setting the goal to try an Ironman. Health was often a barrier that kept me from even believing in my ability to accomplish such a goal. Now, when I look back on the months that led up to that event as well as the accomplishment of that day, it helps fuel me to feel strong on days when I feel tired or weak. For me, the moment I crossed that finish line hearing the words “You are an Ironman”, I felt completely unstoppable and strong like I could do anything. I look forward to feeling that way again.
Self-efficacy refers to a person’s belief in their ability or capability to accomplish certain behaviors- it’s a necessary part of sport psychology that can apply to each of us at any stage. When you do well and succeed at a particular activity, it brings a belief that you will succeed again at that goal. It builds confidence in your ability, strength, and boosts you to feel capable of even the toughest things.
Our Muscles for Myeloma 30 day fitness challenge is almost coming to an end, the thought comes- What’s next? We have over 770 participants in our free challenge this month showing how strong and resilient they are. So much community support is being driven through sharing of photos, challenges in life and treatment, daily success as well as some fun adventures and stories. This challenge brings a huge sense of community and strength, but at the end of the month what then?
By utilizing the model of self-efficacy we can empower ourselves with tools, plans, thoughts, and feelings to prepare our behavior to move forward from this challenge. Think back to a time you accomplished a specific goal and how you felt about it. What feelings come back to you? Use that to motivate yourself to set a goal from here.
We can often gain strength by watching someone similar to us push through or succeed during challenging times, or when we see someone achieve a goal we want to accomplish. Through this challenge, I have been a recipient of many emails of participants expressing what this challenge has meant to them on hard days. Not only feeling the support of others but seeing their journey and not feeling alone in it, holds so much weight. Specific to MM/SMM, when we see other patients' successes in treatments and their subsequent ability to be physically active, it can be very motivating and help us to believe "I can do this!". Has there been a time when you looked up to someone going through something you knew you were going to face, or a goal you wanted to achieve? How did this help you? How can you be that for someone else?
You've likely been through a lot on your MM/SMM journey, experiencing many ups and downs. What advice would you give to others who might be having a hard time, to help them see that while things may be hard for them at the moment, they can persevere through and get to better days?
Whenever I have an event or race, I go through and imagine the event: how will I feel prior/at the start/early on, how it will go, and how I will feel when I meet that accomplishment? When I imagine these things, it helps ease my nerves, anxieties, and I feel more at ease that I can do this. Practicing this with any goal, event in your life, or even treatment can help you feel stronger going through it.
Take a moment to imagine yourself preparing to do something (e.g., an exercise session, an event, or treatment) and then accomplishing that thing.
Self-reflection is often part of the process of self-efficacy. Reflecting within yourself what you can give to others through your journey, what you’ve learned, as well as viewing what you need from others. We are all on this journey together. Even if no one person’s journey is the same, take comfort in that others are going through similar situations.
Personally, I have felt so much growth in our community coming together with the motivation for movement. Grateful for the stories shared, knowledge shared, and experiences together.
about the author
Linnley joined HealthTree in January 2020 as the Fitness Events Manager. Her husband is a childhood cancer survivor as well as a cancer biologist. Finding a cure, better treatments, and balance through treatments is what drives their family. Linnley is an Advanced Cancer Exercise Specialist and focuses on finding what you can do rather than can't.