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The Difference Between Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

The terms self-esteem and self-confidence are often used interchangeably when referring to how one feels about themselves. Although they are very similar, they are two different concepts. It is important to understand their roles when looking to improve your overall sense of self.

What is Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem refers to how you feel about yourself overall; how much esteem, positive regard or self-love you have. Self-esteem develops from experiences and situations that have shaped how you view yourself today.

Self-confidence is how you feel about your abilities and can vary from situation to situation. I may have healthy self-esteem, but low confidence about situations involving math (this is true).

When you love yourself, your self-esteem improves, which makes you more confident. When you are confident in areas of your life, you begin to increase your overall sense of esteem. You can work on both at the same time.

What Does Low Self-Esteem Look Like?

A friend told me she has low self-esteem; she constantly feels “I’m not good enough.” This concept has developed over her entire life. She has been in a series of unhealthy relationships, is frequently belittled by her boss, and constantly tells herself “I suck, I’m not worth it.” Recognizing she has this negative script, she is now better able to change it.

On the positive side, she is confident about being an amazing chef, a caring friend, and having the ability to be super-organized. She knows and believes this about herself and feels confident in these areas. By focusing on the things she is confident in and working on changing her negative self-talk, she is improving both her self-esteem and self-confidence.

Ideas for Improving Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

If you are having trouble finding areas you are confident in, try these tips.

  • Think of qualities others say you excel in. Even if you believe them slightly, this is a step in the right direction.
  • Stop the negative chatter. Shut it up! Start to think of contradictions to these statements.
  • Would you say it to a friend? If not, stop saying these statements to yourself.
  • Make a list of strengths. Think of what you would say about yourself if you were on a job interview.

The more we recognize our challenges with self-confidence and self-esteem, the more aware we become of improvements that can be made. This is when positive changes occur.
You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Google+ , Facebook, and Twitter.

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11 Responses to The Difference Between Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

  1. Pingback: Building Self-Esteem in Girls | The ModernGirlsGuideTo

  2. self defined says:

    Consider the idea that self esteem IS as self-esteem DOES. Here, a strong, well-constructed self-concept can be bolstered through engaging in diverse behavioral activity in a variety of areas (i.e. more eggs in more baskets). In this model, strengthening self-esteem occurs indirectly — through behavioral activities that give rise to a wider range of beneficial knowledge and expertise. Thus, improved positive self esteem is the product of a “wider” self-concept, defined by “widening” one’s behavioral repertoire.

  3. Self Esteemer says:

    I was searching for the difference as its taken me years to realise there might be one. I am considered a very confident person by others, maybe too much so! I run my own business, I take risks everyday and they pay off. But my self confidence is merely a cover up for low self esteem. Low self esteem is what you feel about yourself, it’s about your worth as you see it. Others can think what they like, but I never feel good enough, and I always imagine I am not wanted. ” Self esteem forms as a result of the child’s early experiences. If a child feels loved, is treated lovingly, is supported, encouraged, gets positive attention, is taught skills, is given appropriate freedom to make choices, senses that those in his environment think he has value, is listened to by parents and others in his environment, he is likely to form healthy self-esteem. If on the other hand, the child is mistreated, harshly disciplined, overly criticized, put down, embarrassed and or humiliated, unsupported, kept isolated, left alone for long periods of time, she will likely develop low self-esteem”. I was sent away to bourding school at 8 years old while my older sister remained at home. I only returned every 3 months for holidays 2 brief week ends in between. I was desperately unhappy and missed my home and family. Now I have great confidence in my abilities and connection with people, but my self esteem is very low. I always worry my partners will leave me, that something FAR better than I is just around the corner for them. I worry that every girl they meet is a potential for them, and that it’s only a matter of time until they find someone “Special” and leave me. In business meetings I can hold my own with Lions, I SOLO traveled round the world as a 24 year old young girl for 1.5 years. Yet I never feel slim or attractive or captivating enough to be someone’s love of their life. So far I have attracted men that emotionally and verbally abuse me, or abandon me. I don’t get on with my Mother who sent me away, and I deeply mistrust her manipulative ways. So I finally realize it’s self esteem I lack not Confidence. My self esteem is based on what I believe others value me as, confidence is the other stuff I have learnt I do well and therefore is what I value me as. Its very different.

  4. majordbrain says:

    this information is priceless. thanks a million!

  5. iraj says:

    hello dear emily
    i am an iranian psychologist. i live in the south of iran. i read your blog and i appreciate it. i work with ld and adhd children. i need to know more about how can i improve their self esteem. do u have any guideline to send to me please?

  6. iraj says:

    this information is really great. thanks alot

  7. Travis says:

    What I learned in my Psychology of Human Relations course in college is that self-esteem is the feeling to overcome obstacles that are thrown at you in life, so basically how you feel about yourself in a sense. self-confidence is basically the reassurance of this feeling because it is the how you feel about your abilities to overcome obstacles in life. Thus, you really cannot have one without the other, generally, because they are at the core of each other. Think of goals as the foundation for both, and self-efficacy and cognitive reconstruction as the tools to build them. Then think of your strengths and weaknesses as your blue print for building them, and finally motivation (which could be things like envisioning completing these goals as you have with other goals you have completed in life) as the fuel for action. All of this usually construes great self-confidence and self-esteem. Additionally, being around people who encourage you and expect a lot from you is also a part of motivation, but is more like extra help (extra construction workers in my analogy) to help build both these things (called the Galatea Effect).

  8. Dee says:

    Thank you for this article. It is helpful so now I know what type of self help books I need to delve into.

    Self Esteemer: your response resonated with me. Thank you for that passionate piece. All the best.

  9. Perri Morrison Smith says:

    I did not have, to begin with, self-esteem problems until I started thinking that everything was based on what others, especially men, thought of me. When I realized that what mattered was that I believe in MYSELF – then everything changed. Take care of #1 . Yourself! Thanks to my Dad~~:)

  10. Wendy says:

    Wow! Thank you for this post! Now I can clearly differentiate the two. For me I want to increase both my self-esteem and self-confidence because I believe the two are both helpful to increase my personality. Thanks for the tips Emily!

  11. afeerah says:

    your articles are very interesting and informative. I feel that i have low confidence so by by acting upon the ideas there is hope for me to enhance confidence to meet the needs of my self

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