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Spiritual Self-Efficacy


Some people fall into a state of spiritual despair because they feel they would be unable to reach the spiritual levels of some of our great ‘urufa, like Sayyid Qadi Tabataba’i or Ayatollah Behjat. Without conviction that one could be successful on the path towards Allah, it would be difficult to find the motivation to try.

During my studies in Qum, I asked many teachers of spirituality about the struggle to move forward. Without fail, these scholars would remind me that small, consistent acts of worship are more effective than spiritual binges. For instance, consistently reciting the Tasbih of Sayyidah Zahra (a) after obligatory prayers over the course of, let’s say, a year is much better than spending one night in worship and not doing anything else throughout the year.

A famous contemporary psychologist, Albert Bandura, spent his life studying self-efficacy. He found that the most important determinant of self-efficacy is “mastery experiences.” The simple explanation of a mastery experience is continually attempting difficult actions until one succeeds. When one does this he starts to believe in his capabilities. But, the opposite also holds true, if one repeatedly fails he might start to believe he can’t succeed, even through effort.

For instance, lets say I want to recite Ziyarat Ashura every night for 40 nights or recite Dua Ahad every morning for 40 days. If this is difficult, but achievable, when one successfully completes the task it should increase their self-efficacy, or their confidence in achieving their spiritual goals. But, if one continuously fails reaching 40 days, it might lead him to decreasing his self-efficacy in spirituality resulting in a decrease of worship. Thus, finding and tailoring your spiritual plan / schedule / goals is a very important aspect of spirituality.

Remember, subdividing over-arching spiritual goals into small, achievable goals produces higher levels of spirituality than trying to cram large amounts of spirituality at once. This is where one can use a spiritual teacher or coach. If this is something you are interested in, spiritual goal-setting, contact Grace Wellbeing via Facebook or Twitter for more information.

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