Self-Esteem versus Self-Confidence: How to Distinguish Between the Two
Have you ever wondered how celebrities can be surrounded by so much praise and so many accolades and still feel their life is missing something? Have you yourself ever felt like you were chasing a form of validity, and no matter what tangible reward your external world offered, something still felt like it was missing? It can be quite an endless, daunting chase to make yourself believe you truly deserve the rewards, accolades, and praise you receive.
For some, it’s not about the rewards. Maybe they’re constantly changing their look to finally feel good about themselves. Whether it be revamping their wardrobe, changing their hair, or starting a new workout regimen, these activities still trigger a never-ending chase for complete and utter self-love. What do these scenarios have in common, and can you think of any other forms of this “chase” and its existence in people’s lives? Also, why is it so important to understand the root cause of this “chase”? When we start to dissect the cause, self-esteem and self-confidence come into play. It is important to know the difference between the two and also to understand how they interact.
Oftentimes the terms “self-esteem” and “self-confidence” get used interchangeably, and we begin to misconstrue their meanings and blur the importance of each on their own. Why is it important to distinguish between the two?
Well… self-esteem is a measurement of your internal world. According to Psychology Today, the word “esteem” means “to regard highly or favourably.” So when applying the word “self” to “esteem,” the definition is how you regard and measure yourself intuitively. It’s the value of yourself that you have without external measurements such as awards, certificates, praise, etc. Experts from Psychology Today also say that self-esteem is something you are conditioned to have from an early age. If you were praised and approved of unconditionally growing up, you are more likely to carry that intuitive approval as you get older. Don’t worry, though— self-esteem is something that tends to fluctuate as we get older, so you can always increase this high regard for yourself once you understand the true definition of what it is.
Self-confidence, on the other hand, is our measurement of ourselves in other aspects of our lives. An artist with a shelf full of Grammy awards will be confident in their singing abilities. Maybe you have skydived numerous times before and are confident in your ability to make it safely to the ground. It can even be as simple as knowing you can do an amazing winged eyeliner look because you have done it many times before. Self-confidence lies within our abilities to achieve or accomplish something and comes from external evidence that we have done it before and are surely capable of doing it again.
Now that you understand the difference between self-esteem and self-confidence, it is time to understand how they go hand-in-hand. It can be quite frustrating to see continuous, tragic endings to celebrities’ careers and even sometimes their lives when it looks like they have it all. You may wonder how someone can have wealth, awards, fame, and more and still not feel completely satisfied with their lives. While it may be quite obvious to a celebrity that they are extremely talented based on the awards and praise they receive, tangible evidence of accomplishments can quickly lose its weight when a person does not believe in their inherent worth.
But what about you? Maybe it’s the reassurance of excelling at your job based off of praise from your boss and peers. Maybe it’s the self-confidence that you have from your diplomas because you persevered through a treacherous era in school. While admiring your achievements is not bad, it is important to remember that the sense of pride from external validity can only last for so long. There will come a point in time when you have to chase a new endeavor to feel a sense of accomplishment again, which is how that never-ending chase mentioned earlier comes into existence in our lives. What will last forever, though, is the approval you have of yourself. When you hold yourself internally to a high regard, it makes accomplishments that much sweeter. You can fully enjoy and be present with your wins because, even when that high is gone, the value of yourself remains. Having high self-esteem helps you slow down and be present with the achievements that enhance your confidence in our abilities. Instead of rushing for the next mission or project to accomplish to maintain value, you will be able to bask in your wins and accept wholeheartedly that you are deserving because you know from prior experience that you can do it AND already believe that you are capable and amazing.
The next thing to take into consideration is how to increase one when you have only the other. Or even how you can increase both if you are starting without either. Self-esteem comes from within, therefore, in order to grow it, you must first change the conversation you are having with yourself about yourself. A simple starting point is affirmations. We hear everywhere that affirmations are important, and that is because they truly are the starting point to changing the narrative about how we feel about ourselves. Simply saying aloud to yourself everyday “I am deserving” or “I am capable” can begin to shift the value you measure within yourself to conquer your outer world.
Some of the other affirmations I say to myself everyday are “I am talented,” “I am smart,” or even “I am inspired by and inspiring the world.” I like to keep my affirmations short and simple so my subconscious has no choice but to soak in the words exactly as they are. I also smile as I say these words to myself. According to SCL Health, there is evidence that smiling can trick your brain to elevate your mood. I have noticed that a combination of these two simple tactics has helped me begin to believe these words I am affirming to myself.
When looking to build your self-confidence, start with something you’re good at and create tangible, elevated challenges to increase your confidence in your ability to succeed. If your talent is makeup, challenge yourself to try new looks that are out of your comfort zone. If it’s music, challenge yourself to learn a new song and impress your loved ones with this new accomplishment. If you like to run or workout, challenge yourself to go a little further or even work a little harder. The trick here is you’ll already feel so assured within yourself due to your self-esteem, that you won’t hesitate to execute and WIN at these new challenges, thus leading to more self-confidence. The two really do go hand-in-hand.
It is so important, now perhaps more than ever, to recognize the multitude of ways to be proud of yourself. Basking in your accomplishments may feel selfish or empty at times, but at the end of the day, no one can praise or deem value to you better than yourself. When you can assess where you fall short when it comes to self-esteem and self-confidence, you can strengthen the relationships with yourself and your external accomplishments. Once these relationships have been strengthened, you can fully embrace your value and talent long after the praise.