Self Esteem or Self Confidence? Understanding the Difference between the two

People often confuse these two terms. Many assume they’re simply just two different words for the same thing, but this isn’t true. You can have a lot of self-esteem and minimal self-confidence. The opposite is also true.

Having both is important. You’ll be more successful, happier in general, and happier with yourself if you can cultivate both qualities.

See how self-confidence and self-esteem are two different things:

  1. Self-confidence is situation specific. You can have a lot of self-confidence regarding your ability to do maths, host a great party, or to play a sport or musical instrument. You can have simultaneously zero self-confidence in your ability to cook or sing.

Self-confidence is the amount of trust you have in yourself to do a particular task well. It’s more about competence than confidence. It’s not so much a feeling as the way you think about how skilled at something you are.

  1. Self-esteem is the general impression you have of yourself. Self-esteem is a form of self-love. It’s more of a feeling; it’s how pleased you are with yourself in general. You can have a lot of self-confidence and very little self-esteem. The opposite can also be true. In essence it’s the difference between loving who you are and loving what you can do.
  2. Self-confidence is easier to build. Self-confidence is a skill – the result of preparation and success. For example, if you prepare well for an exam, you’ll have confidence in your ability to do well on that exam. When you have a history of doing well at something, you’ll develop self-confidence in that area.
  3. Self-esteem can’t be built with achievements, but self-confidence can. A wall full of trophies and awards can really boost your self-confidence. However, it may do little for your self-esteem. You can be great at something without valuing yourself.

Building self-confidence is about understanding that you have the capacity to improve by working at or practising something.  It’s quite clear. If you want to be confident at playing the guitar or speaking French, practise each day until you can see an improvement or you are consistently successful.  Your confidence grows in the area you decide to develop.  So practise giving speeches until you’re good at giving them and you’ll develop self-confidence in that area of your life.

Learning to love yourself more will help you build self-esteem.

Practice these techniques to build your self-esteem:

  1. Identify your values and use them to guide your decisions. List your values and refer back to your list often. Think about changes you can make to your life to live according to your values. Failing to adhere to your values by consistently living your life in opposition to them, for example honesty is a high value for you but your boss insists you comply with dishonest practices at work, is a leading cause of low self-esteem.

  2. Let go of perfection. If you’re trying to be perfect, you’re going to fail. If you consistently fail at living up to a standard, your self-esteem will suffer. Lower the bar to something achievable and give yourself the chance to be pleased with yourself.

  3. Be grateful.  In each situation which doesn’t give you what you wanted, look for the ‘silver lining’.  If you often think ‘one day I’ll look back at this and laugh’, decide to see the funny side now.  You’ll be surprised to find how often you can do this, and the more you do it, the easier it becomes.  Gratitude is the quickest route to happiness.  And, generally, happy people have good self-esteem.

  4. Manage your self-talk. If you spend all day criticising and insulting yourself, it’s almost impossible to feel good about yourself. There’s no quick way to permanently shut down your inner chat, but you can manage it. Stop yourself when you notice negative self-talk and just let it go.  Remind yourself that it’s thinking rather than truth and therefore not important.

So, can you have self-confidence without self-esteem, and vice versa?  Yes, you can but it’s much more powerful to have both. You can be wildly successful with just self-confidence, but without self-esteem your successes will never make you happy or satisfied. Both work together synergistically to create a life experience that can’t be duplicated any other way.

Build self-confidence in the areas that serve you. Build your self-esteem so you can love yourself.

If you need help with this, please look out for details of my forthcoming Confidence Course, or give me a call on 07767 636302.

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