How is self-confidence different from self-esteem?

Self-confidence differs from self-esteem, but a chance to look at the two traits is helpful to understand its potential. Although the two terms are used interchangeably there are differences which can have an impact on finding a way forward. The word a�?confidencea�� comes from the Latin word to trust or have faith. Confident people set realistic goals, learn useful skills and undertake tasks to get to where they want to be. Confidence is linked with the external world and how others see us; how we present ourselves and what we achieve. Self-esteem, however, is more about our own relationship with ourselves and how we feel deep down about who we are.

The two traits are linked but not always connected. A person might work hard and acquire skills and polish to compensate for a deep feeling of low-esteem, and be considered highly competent and successful in the eyes of others. Many high achievers are driven by this compensatory need, but often the hoped-for sense of satisfaction evades them causing them to overwork or seek refuge in some other area. The lives of the rich and famous may hold particular fascination for us because of this trait which emerges in all sections of society; rich, poor, talented, privileged and famous. So, self-confidence may be developed alongside self-esteem or independently.

Self-confidence is a skill that can be developed through realistic goal setting and planning. It is important to note, however, that the pressure you, or others, put on yourself to live up to expectations can lead to anxiety and bruised confidence, so developing self-confidence at the right pace for you is important. A solid foundation of self-esteem may be desirable, especially if previous attempts to improve your confidence have failed.


Signs you have low self-confidence

Your level of self-confidence can be seen by others in many ways; in your body language, your behaviour, how you speak and how you react to different situations. Self-confident people are generally more positive and believe in themselves and their abilities, whereas those with low self-confidence often have negative thoughts about themselves and their ability, which then leads to a downward spiral of under-achievement and disappointment.

If you have low self-confidence you may feel:

  • you fail at everything and are unsuccessful
  • you have no drive or direction
  • shy and uneasy
  • a sense of uselessness and worthlessness
  • inferior to others
  • bitter about work, social and family relationships.

There may be some areas of your life where you feel confident and others where you do not. It is important to assess this to understand that learning and skills can be a bridge to confidence. Maybe you are confident with one or two close friends but not with strangers. It may be that you are confident with animals or children but not with adults. You may be able to cook but unable to sing. Confident people build on what they can do and confront honestly what they are lacking in, accepting constructive criticism and support