At first glance they might seem the same. But actually, self esteem is a completely different thing from self confidence.
Here’s an easy to follow guide to understanding the difference.
- Self esteem is how you feel about yourself overall: Self confidence is how you feel about your abilities, and can vary from situation to situation.
Example: You feel good about yourself in general (self esteem), but it scares the hell out of you when you have to stand up and do a presentation at work – simply because you lack the self confidence in your ability to do this one specific act.
- Low self esteem makes you feel ‘I’m not good enough’: Low self confidence can make you doubt that you can perform a certain action or task. It does not affect everything in your life.
Example: If you suffer from low self esteem you might feel that you’re simply not worth it – you’re not as good as others. In other words, you think negatively about yourself. If you suffer from low self confidence, how you feel will depend on challenge that presents itself.
- Self esteem (in particular, low self esteem) builds up over time. It can come from many sources, but often from being belittled over an extended period of time. Self confidence can be improved by increasing your knowledge and through practice.
Example: A parent who constantly tells their child that they’re not good enough can cause that child to become an adult with low self esteem. This can take a long time to overcome. However, lacking in self confidence can be more easily rectified by gaining knowledge and practicing the task in hand.
- Building self esteem in those who are lacking is something that takes time – and often a lot of it. Building self-confidence in your abilities to do certain things can be done relatively quickly.
Example: You’ve been bullied at some point in your life (either as a child, teenager, or adult), and as a result suffer from low self esteem. These negative feelings are buried deep inside your psyche, and will take a long, sustained effort to convert to something more positive.
Conversely, if you want to gain self confidence, you need to practice whatever it is that you’re nervous about. As it becomes easier and you begin to trust in your abilities, the way you feel about carrying out such a task (or whatever) becomes consistently more positive. This means that you depending on your focus, your self confidence for THAT PARTICULAR THING grows pretty quickly.
How to improve self esteem
As you can see, there are (relatively easy) ways to build self confidence. Building self esteem is a more complex problem.
The following daily tasks will help in the journey to building self esteem:
- Don’t put yourself down. Detrimental self talk is very harmful, so try to stop doing it. Start your day with positive affirmations that will get you beginning each one in the right state of mind.
- Make sure you hang out with positive people. Other people’s attitudes have a huge impact on your own.
- Try writing down your feelings – perhaps in a journal. The act of doing this is very cathartic in itself. But try to write about the positive, not the negative – this way you can use these writings to give you a boost when you’re having a hard day.
- Make sure you work on your self confidence too. Because this is easier, in a way, to improve, it means you’ll see results. And the two are linked, even though they are different things.