The Real Difference Between Self-Confidence And Self-Esteem

You’re at work, completing projects, and scheduling meetings. Your boss then hops into your office and assigns you to plan a networking event. The message brightens your day, and you’re ecstatic to start the project. You trust yourself that you have the skills. 

However, a voice inside your head says that you’re not good enough. You internalize it and then believe you’re not qualified to complete the task. 

Hence, your self-confidence and self-esteem are clashing. You’re confident you can complete the task. But you tell yourself that you’re incapable. So, how do we distinguish self-confidence and self-esteem? Here are the differences: 

What’s self-confidence?

Self-confidence is how we can trust and believe in our abilities. It’s about knowing what we can or cannot achieve. Moreover, self-confident individuals know how to respond to challenges since they’re confident to set goals for themselves. 

What’s self-esteem?

Instead of focusing on goals and metrics, self-esteem is more about how we value ourselves. Self-esteem is about self-love, regard, and self-acceptance. However, we heavily base our perception of value on past experiences and our own thinking patterns. As a result, trauma and other challenges can impact self-esteem. 

So, what’s the difference between self-confidence and self-esteem? 

Self-confidence is about trusting yourself to respond to a challenge, whereas self-esteem focuses more on your own perspective of yourself. 

Self-confidence can vary in different situations. You may feel more confident about challenges you have previously handled. On the other hand, your self-esteem is more consistent with whichever situation you face as you still continue to hold the same perspective of yourself.

Self-esteem can also give us the self-confidence to handle challenges. For example, let’s say you value yourself as an athletic person. Therefore, if you’re learning to swim and believe you can swim, you have high self-esteem. It will allow you to approach the situation confidently. 

What is low self-esteem? 

Low self-esteem is when someone does not hold themselves in high regard. They may criticize themselves and think they aren’t capable of anything. And whenever someone with low self-esteem faces a challenge, they may approach the situation negatively, similar to their worldview. This is mainly because of doubt. 

What are the signs of low self-esteem?

There are many signs of low self-esteem. Some include

  • People-pleasing 
  • Being critical about yourself 
  • Self-deprecating humor 
  • Not accepting compliments
  • Avoiding challenges 
  • Feeling sad, depressed, and angry

What causes low self-esteem? 

Since self-esteem depends on past experiences, many causes stem from environmental and social factors. These include not fitting in at school, constantly being punished by family members, and insufficient encouragement. 

What are the effects of low self-esteem?

With low self-esteem, you may have difficulty forming relationships or concentrating on tasks. You may avoid competitive activities and respond harshly to criticism. Moreover, you may start viewing every situation pessimistically. 

How can you improve your self-esteem?

Although it’s challenging, there are ways to improve self-esteem. On the individual level, you can think about what brings you self-confidence, such as certain activities or hobbies. Then, you can begin celebrating the small wins, such as getting a new job promotion. 

Whenever you think negatively, reframe the situation. For example, if you’re upset about a low mark, you can look at it as determining your strengths and weaknesses throughout the course. However, whenever you’re going through this process, it’s crucial to realize that there are situations you cannot control, such as how others treated you in the past. 

If you want to seek treatment, you can look for a psychologist who practices cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), competitive memory training (COMET), and compassion-focused therapy (CFT). These sessions will help you identify your core values, develop healthier boundaries, and learn self-compassion. 

Finally, what’s the relationship between self-confidence and self-esteem?

Self-confidence is one of the factors that influence self-esteem. When we are in the process of improving our self-esteem, we are also boosting our self-confidence. Self-esteem will give us the confidence to reflect on our support systems. So, when we’re confident, we are conscious of the people around us and our competence to handle further stressors.

Although self-esteem and self-confidence are different concepts, they get mixed up as synonyms. Overall, both notions are about accepting the external factors we cannot control, such as friendship breakups or employment instability. Being self-confident and having good self-esteem also allow us to respond to difficult situations in an empowering manner. 

Building up self-esteem nowadays is difficult. But, with enough self-confidence, we can do it.

Featured image via Nicolle Kreisch on Pexels


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