Most people use the terms self-esteem and self-confidence interchangeably to refer to how an individual feels about themselves. However, while there’s a relationship between the two, these terms are not the same.
You can have high self-esteem and still struggle with self-confidence. Similarly, it’s possible to have self-confidence with low self-esteem. So what’s the difference between the two, and how can you improve your self-esteem and self-confidence? Let’s find out.
What Is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem refers to one’s cognitive and emotional appraisal of themselves. In addition to this, it is the matrix through which an individual feels, acts, reflects, and thinks. Self-esteem determines our relationship with ourselves and others.
Whether you have high or low self-esteem will depend on experiences and situations that shape how you see yourself. Ultimately, self-esteem is a reflection of how much self-love one has.
What is Self-Confidence?
Self-confidence refers to how much you trust yourself and your ability to engage successfully or adequately with the world. A person with self-confidence doesn’t back down in the face of challenges. They rise to the occasion and do their best to overcome hurdles. What’s more, they’re ready to take ownership if things don’t go their way.
Another difference between self-esteem and self-confidence is that one’s self-confidence changes often. For instance, you may be confident to give a public speech and shy away from a new activity you’ve not tried before.
Why People Confuse the Two
So, why is the concept of self-esteem vs self-confidence so confusing to most people? The difference comes in how individuals perceive these two terms and their relationship. The majority of people believe that to improve their self-esteem, they have to improve their self-confidence.
As a result, you’ll find people working towards achieving accomplishments in areas they’re good at to improve their sense of self-worth. However, nothing they achieve makes them happy.
This is because self-esteem and self-confidence, as we’ve mentioned, are different. However, the good news is that you can improve both with an understanding of the difference.
Tips on How to Build Self-Esteem
The major difference between self-esteem and self-confidence is that self-esteem isn’t about ability. It’s about how you perceive yourself and your internal dialogue about yourself. As we’ve mentioned, your sense of self-worth stems from your interactions with people and your experiences as you grow up.
If low self-esteem isn’t addressed, it can lead to mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve your self-esteem. These include:
Pinpoint and Challenge Negative Beliefs
The first thing you should do to improve your self-esteem is to become more aware of your negative thoughts. For instance, if you find yourself thinking, “I have no friends, and no one loves me,” do the following:
- Write both negative statements on the paper as you hear them in your head.
- Next, write down the evidence that contradicts your thoughts.
- Focus on the truth and start ignoring false negative statements that pop up in your mind.
Focus On Your Positive Traits
Positive dialogue is a significant part of improving self-esteem. Therefore, it may also be a good idea to start listing all your good traits. Think of what other people have complimented you on and also things you love about yourself. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, focus on this list instead.
Invest in Positive Relationships
The people you surround yourself with have a significant impact on your self-esteem. Start paying attention to how you feel around people. Stay away from people who drag you down or make you feel worthless. Surround yourself with positive people who always lift you up.
Learn to Say No
Individuals with low self-esteem have a hard time standing up to others. As a result, they find that they hate themselves for not defending their honor or setting boundaries. To improve your self-esteem, you need to start standing up for yourself and being comfortable saying no. At first, it may be challenging to do so, but you’ll get better at it the more you do it.
Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
In your quest to improve your self-esteem, you’ll face many hurdles. There will be days you can’t say no, or you find yourself drowning in negative thoughts. Building your self-esteem won’t happen overnight. Therefore, be patient and focus on the times you get it right.
Because self-confidence is how you feel about your abilities, it can vary from one situation to another. For instance, if you’re an excellent swimmer, you have confidence that you can’t fail in the activity. However, if you’re presented with a challenging situation you’ve never tried before, you may find your self-confidence isn’t as high. Below are some of the things you can do to improve your self-confidence.
Focus On Your Achievements
It’s easy to lose self-confidence when you feel like you haven’t achieved anything good. When you feel this way, list down all the things you’ve accomplished that you’re proud of. Add to the list every time you achieve something big or small.
The next time you’re struggling with self-confidence, read the list. You’ll realize that you’ve achieved a lot of goals, and you’re more than capable of tackling whatever you’re facing at the moment.
Set New Goals
If you’ve not done anything noteworthy in a while, it can mess with your self-confidence. It’s even worse when everyone around you seems to be checking off things from their list. Don’t let this get to you. A fast way to boost your confidence and start moving in the right direction is to set new goals.
It doesn’t have to be a big goal. Start with small tasks you can accomplish. Create a list of steps you need to take to achieve the goal and begin working towards it. Every step you take in the right direction will boost your confidence.
Recognize Your Strengths
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. However, if you focus too much on your weaknesses, you’ll struggle with self-confidence. You may also find yourself comparing yourself to others and not doing your best when you need to.
Shift the focus to your strengths. List down all the things you’re good at and start building on those skills. The better you get, the more confident you’ll be.
Improve Your Self-Talk
Negative self-talk also affects your self-confidence. If you’re always thinking how bad you are at something and how you’ll never accomplish anything, you’re right. This negative self-talk prevents you from taking the right steps towards achieving your goals. You may find yourself taking the backseat in life and moving with the motions.
Don’t let this happen. If you’re spiraling and constantly having negative thoughts, change the narrative. Treat yourself as you would a friend. Remind yourself of your unique abilities and strengths. Go a step further and give yourself a pep talk before doing things that scare you.
Start a New Hobby
Passion and self-confidence often go hand in hand. If you’re not passionate about something, you’ll probably not give it your all, and it will affect your performance. When this happens, you’ll start thinking you’re not skilled enough or you’ll never make it.
A quick way to fix this is to stop working on projects you’re not passionate about. Try new hobbies until you identify something you’re passionate about. Keep working on it and taking it in the direction you wish. The better you get at it, the better your self-confidence will be.
When to Seek Professional Help
Self-esteem and self-confidence are harder to build if you’ve been suffering from low self-esteem and low confidence for a long time. It’s harder to change one’s mind by offering a few tips and tricks in such cases.
If you’ve tried your best to boost your esteem and self-confidence without any luck, it may be time to see a licensed online therapist. A professional will help you discover what led you to your current state and help you deal with the root cause of the problem. What’s more, they use scientific approaches to help you build your confidence and improve your self-esteem.
Self-esteem vs self-confidence is a confusing debate for most people. Fortunately, with this information, you can now differentiate the two. To recap, self-esteem is a person’s sense of self-worth that stems from their interactions with others. On the other hand, self-confidence refers to one’s trust in their abilities to succeed.
If you suffer from low self-esteem or struggle with self-confidence, the tips in this article will help. Also, consider seeing a therapist, especially if you’re experiencing anxiety and depression due to self-esteem and self-confidence issues. The expert will help you overcome the hurdles and begin living a more fulfilled and happy life.
Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has worked in healthcare since 2017. She primarily treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, and grief, as well as identity, relationship and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience has focused on individual and group counseling, emergency counseling and outreach.Read more