Karen Thomas Mind Coach


11th April 2022

The terms self-esteem and self-confidence are often used interchangeably when referring to how one feels about themselves. Although they are very similar, they are two different concepts. It is important to understand their roles when looking to improve your overall sense of self.

What is Self-Esteem?

Refers to how you feel about yourself overall; how much esteem, positive regard or self-love you have. Self-esteem develops from experiences and situations that have shaped how you view yourself today.

Self-confidence is how you feel about your abilities and can vary from situation to situation. Possessing little self-regard can lead people to become depressed, to fall short of their potential, or to tolerate abusive situations and relationships. Too much self-love, on the other hand, results in an off-putting sense of entitlement and an inability to learn from failures. (It can also be a sign of clinically narcissism.)

Self-esteem is affected by physical ill-health, negative life events such as losing your job or getting divorced, deficient or frustrating relationships, and a general sense of lack of control.

People with long-term low self-esteem generally see the world as a hostile place and themselves as its victim. As a result, they feel reluctant to express and assert themselves, miss out on experiences and opportunities, and feel helpless about changing things. All this merely lowers their self-esteem even further, and they end up getting caught in a downward spiral.

Our self-esteem is instilled in us during our formative years through childhood. Being constantly criticized by family, friends, and society tends to slowly strip us of our feelings of self-worth. Our low self-esteem strips us of the self-confidence to make even the smallest of decisions. Basically, self-esteem is the value you see yourself having in the world. “Am I worthwhile human being?” Answer that question with a yes and the chances are you have pretty high self-esteem. It’s not a quality that changes very much since it is related to a broad sense of personal value or self-worth. If you have high self-esteem at work, you probably have it in other areas of your life too, because this is a reflection of how you see yourself. People with high self-esteem tend to see the universe as a pretty friendly place.


Confidence, on the other hand, is related to action, it’s a belief that you can succeed at something. Psychologists call it domain specific. So, you can be confident about one area of your life, but totally unconfident about another. “I am confident that I am a good manager but I’m not at all confident about speaking in public.

In many ways it is easier to grow your confidence than your self-esteem. Confidence builds by taking action and trying things you find hard, by going outside your comfort zone. If you work at that public speaking, bit by bit, you will become more confident of your abilities. You may never be perfect but that’s not the point, confidence is about facing obstacles and realizing you’re still alive even when you fail.

Obviously, there’s a correlation between these two qualities. If you have high self-esteem, you are likely to be a more confident person too. But not always. Andre Agassi is a classic example of someone who was perfectly confident of their ability to play great tennis, but was riddled with anxiety most of his life.

Improving self-esteem increases your confidence and is a first step towards finding happiness and a better life.

When you love yourself, your self-esteem improves, which makes you more confident. . When one does not dwell on negative consequences one can be more “self-confident” because one is worrying far less about failure or the disapproval of others following potential failure. One is then more likely to focus on the actual situation which means that enjoyment and success in that situation is also more probable. Belief in one’s abilities to perform an activity comes through successful experience and may add to, or consolidate, a general sense of self-confidence

When you are confident in areas of your life, you begin to increase your overall sense of esteem. You can work on both at the same time.

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