Understanding the difference between self-confidence and self-esteem can be a little confusing. Many people confuse the two and not understanding where they stand can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
However, it’s important to understand that they are not the same. Confidence is a certainty in yourself, while self-esteem is more about other factors such as your appearance or social status. Knowing what types of confidence you invest in lets you know what type of esteem you feel on a day-to-day basis and can help increase your confidence levels.
What is self-confidence?
An individual’s self-confidence is based on his or her ability to execute tasks and how he or she feels about his or her performance. It is the sense of belief in your own competence to complete an assignment. Confidence is also the belief you will be able to achieve a goal, while feeling in control of the situation.
Confidence in your own skills is crucial to success. Essentially, it is based on the things that you know how to do and your belief that you can do them correctly. It can also be based on past experiences that have proven your abilities.
When you invest confidence in yourself, you believe what you are able to achieve because of the level of competence in doing so. You need this type of confidence to be successful in whatever path or direction you choose.
What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is a person’s overall evaluation of his or her own worth. It involves the ability to feel good about oneself and to have positive self-regard. It’s a valuable asset, whether one’s tall or short, smart or stupid, good-looking or plain.
Self-esteem will not only help a person to feel better about himself but also improve his success in life. We tend to like and respect people who have a good opinion of themselves, and we tend to treat them with more dignity.
Having good self-esteem is also a key to dealing with setbacks; it strengthens a person’s resilience and emotional well-being. And, of course, it helps people to improve their physical health by making them more conscious of their own needs and worries.
This is seen in studies showing that parents with high self-esteem teach their children more effectively – they are stricter but also more responsive – than those with low self-esteem.
What is the difference between self-esteem and self-confidence then?
Self-confidence vs self-esteem
Self-confidence is the ability to trust one’s self and to cope effectively with stress.
It involves enthusiasm, hope, a willingness to take risks, and the belief that one has the capacity to succeed. It allows a person to face challenges and come out a winner. But self-confidence does not necessarily mean high self-esteem; it may be present even when a person has a low opinion of himself or herself.
Also, a self-confident person’s view of himself may change over time and throughout his life. For example, in adolescence he may be too unsure of himself to handle challenges and deal with failure; in adulthood, he may become more than confident enough to take risks.
So self-esteem can change independently of whether someone is self-confident. A person who has high self-esteem or a positive self-image does not necessarily have high self-confidence or have an optimistic outlook on life.
Someone who is both self-confident and has high self-esteem is the type of person who is able to deal with and succeed in a wide range of situations.
How is self-esteem measured?
There are many kinds of self-esteem measurement instruments. They report on the values people place on things such as their looks, wealth, image, social status and physical health. And they also measure how much they feel good about themselves and about their achievements.
But, like self-confidence, the measurement of self-esteem requires definition. We use words such as ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ to make any kind of feeling we have about ourselves clear. For example, if I don’t feel good about myself today – I feel sad. If I think that my appearance is not all it could be – I am unhappy with myself. And if I feel down in the dumps – that’s how I would describe myself.
Can self-confidence be increased?
We are what we think we are! So why not look at self-confidence as a skill we can develop? Like any other skill, it requires attention and effort. You have to first come to the realization that you can improve, then decide if you want to do anything about it. At the same time, keep in mind that skills are developed over a period of time and with practice. It’s like learning how to swim or play the piano.
6 ways to improve your self-confidence
1. Focus on your strengths
Remember that it is difficult to be self-confident if you lack self-esteem, so it’s very important to focus on improving your self-esteem. This can be hard for people who struggle with their self-image, but it is especially difficult for people who are shy or introverted.
2. Get rid of the negative self-talk
Nobody likes to hear themselves talk like this: ‘I am a loser, I can’t do anything right’. If you repeat the same kind of things for long enough, you will begin to believe them. If someone tells you that you’re a loser, that’s what you’ll feel like. And if your behaviours are inadequate, you will end up acting in a way that confirms your belief.
3. Focus on what you want to achieve
Decide what you want to achieve, the goals you want to reach, and then focus on them. This sounds simple but is not as easy as it sounds. Many people never do this because they are too afraid of failure or fear they will not succeed and end up doing nothing about them at all. Most goals cannot be reached overnight so work at it slowly – step by step, one day at a time!
4. Take small, confident steps
You will feel more confident if you try to handle things that are within your control and that you can be successful at. So start by taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and with regard to your behaviour. Next, tackle challenging situations associated with an achievement or goal. Avoid taking on too many things at once; this is a sure way to overwhelm yourself and end up feeling anxious and inadequate again.
5. Recognize your successes
Make a habit of recognizing your successes. This is vital to your self-confidence. As long as you know that you are doing something about it, that what you’re doing is working for you, and that it feels good to be doing it, then keep at it!
6. Get support from others
The importance of getting support from others cannot be emphasized enough. Find others who are working on the same issues as you. They will help you, whether it’s support, encouragement, or simply listening. As well, get help from a professional such as a counsellor or psychologist.
With self-confidence, you will feel capable and able to take any action and do whatever is necessary to succeed in any kind of situation. You will feel good about yourself and confident about your future. Self-confidence is a habit that you can develop through practice. Start by making the effort to begin getting rid of negative self-talk and focus on what you want to achieve.