Psychology

What is the Difference between self Confidence and self Esteem



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It seems the terms self-confidence and self esteem are used interchangeably.  And we all want more of both of them!

But what is the difference, and why does that matter?

Dictionary.com defines them as:

Self esteem:  A realistic respect for or favourable impression of oneself; self-respect.

Self confidence:   Realistic confidence in one's own judgment, ability, power, etc.

Your self esteem is based around how much you like yourself, irrespective of your abilities, position or anything else.  Having a high self esteem means you are comfortable with yourself and happy with the person you are.  This doesn’t mean you will not strive for more, but will do so for your own satisfaction.  Those with high self esteem will never feel inadequate or inferior to others as they are content with the person they are, flaws and all.

Self confidence is based around your confidence in your abilities which is quite separate, although linked with, self esteem.  Self confidence can also vary in different situations.  You may feel completely confident in your ability to do your job well – high self confidence -  but have no confidence in your ability to ice skate – low self confidence.

Now, you may be thinking, but I have never been ice-skating, of course I would have low confidence in that area.  But not necessarily.  You can have confidence that you will do your best and learn quickly.  Going ice-skating  with this attitude makes it more likely that you will learn quickly, reinforcing your positive self confidence.  However if you have the attitude ‘I’ll be so useless at this, I’m bound to fall on my bottom and make a fool of myself’ then that is what is likely to happen, reinforcing your poor self confidence.

As long as you have high self esteem you will enjoy the ice skating whether you are good, bad or indifferent at it. (Or maybe decide you really don’t like it and will never go again!  But that’s fine too, you are happy enough with yourself to realise you will not enjoy everything).

So how do they affect each other?  Well generally, if self esteem is high so is self confidence and vice versa.  There are exceptions to this however as someone can portray great self confidence at something but not particularly like themselves.

If your self esteem is high, your confidence tends to be high as you accept your faults, strengths, weaknesses and act accordingly.  You can be rubbish at painting but realise that you can’t be good at everything and maintain your high self esteem.

Developing high self confidence can raise our self esteem.  As you become more confident in your actions and achievements (no matter how large or small), you recognise you are a competent, able person and therefore self esteem is raised.

Self esteem and self confidence go hand in hand, and for you to live the best life you can, you must work on both.  They can both improve quickly, significantly and drastically in a small space of time, with just a little work. 

Taking action and working towards your goal will instantly raise your confidence and self esteem, so do not delay!

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More about this author: Kate Irwin

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