There are many words in the English language that are often used interchangeably in common use.
However, just because people think these words have the same meaning, doesn’t mean that they do.
Take self-esteem and self-confidence, for example.
These words mean vastly different things.
But a lot of people think that they refer to the same thing.
And so, you can see them using these words randomly as they please.
Obviously, it is important to know the correct meanings of words and use them appropriately.
Otherwise, the message that you want to convey will get distorted and that will give rise to miscommunication.
This especially matters in organizational settings and at home!
So, let’s take a quick look at the differences between self-esteem and self-confidence.
Self-Esteem Vs Self-Confidence
First let’s explore the meaning of each word.
Definitions of Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence
So, what is the definition of each term.
- Self-esteem is basically your sense of self-worth. It comes from the Latin word “aestimare,” which means “to appraise, value, or estimate.” As such, it is a measure of how you see yourself overall.
- Self-confidence, on the other hand, is more specific in nature. It comes from the Latin word “fidere,” which means “to trust.” As such, it refers to the trust you have in your specific abilities or aspects of life.
Let’s take an example to understand this better.
Let’s say you are an amazing artist. And you have trained for years to develop your artistic talents. However, you might not be good with numbers. And so, whenever something comes up that makes you do calculations, you literally shut down.
Now, even though you might have a great sense of self-worth, you might lack confidence in yourself when it comes to numbers.
But, this lack of confidence in one area of your life doesn’t affect your self-image.
So, as you can see, self-esteem is a broader concept and addresses you as a whole.
Self-confidence is a more niche concept and addresses only specific things about you. One might influence the other, but that is not always necessary.
Another major point of difference is how each of these concepts influences your interaction with the outside world.
Self-esteem has a much deeper impact on the type of relationship you have with yourself and with the world. It dictates your thoughts, feelings, actions, and behavior, while you are interacting with other people and while you are talking to your own self.
So, if you have healthy self-esteem, you won’t need to compensate with other things like money, social status, material possessions, and so on.
You will have a healthy sense of respect for yourself and for your peers.
You will also be more inclined to take care of yourself, your community, and even the environment.
You would not feel the need to constantly compare your life with other people’s lives.
Nor would other people’s negative opinions take away your peace of mind.
Plus, failures and setbacks would only motivate you to become a better version of yourself and give your goal another shot.
Self-confidence also influences your interactions with the outside world, but only to a certain degree and limited to specific things.
For example, if you are not confident about diving in a swimming pool from a height of 10 meters, then you will likely not do it.
Of course, you could become courageous at the last minute and do it anyway.
This would increase your self-confidence and doing the same thing again in the future will become much easier.
Similarly, if you are not confident about approaching your love interest, you probably won’t do it. However, if you manage to pull it off, doing so will get easier in the future.
As you can see, self-confidence influences your interactions with the world in a limited capacity and for specific things. This is not to say that its scope is any less.
It’s just that self-esteem has an overarching effect.
One more difference that we should talk about is what influences our self-esteem and self-confidence.
When it comes to self-esteem, there are countless environmental and genetic factors that might have an impact.
It is something that is shaped right from an early age by your countless life experiences and interactions. Even small things or events can have a huge impact on your self-esteem down the line.
For example, if someone called you ugly on a couple of occasions when you were little, that might hurt your self-esteem for a long time.
But if you had more positive experiences where people around you encouraged you and taught you valuable lessons, you might have a great sense of self-worth.
Achievements also play a huge role in this equation. If you achieved many things (big or small) from an early age, you will naturally have a higher sense of value.
When it comes to self-confidence, again, it is limited in nature.
While growing up, you naturally discover all the things you are great at and all the things you’re not good at.
This impacts your self-confidence for those particular things.
For example, if you discovered early on that you’re great at soccer, your confidence in your abilities as a player would be at a higher level. This could be further developed by training and practice.
But if you discovered that you struggle with maths, your self-confidence in this area will tumble.
As you can probably tell, it is much harder to improve your self-esteem than your self-confidence.
After all, self-esteem is an internal state and there are a lot of things you need to do to improve how you see yourself. You might need to reshape your values, heal from past traumas, set new goals, reinvent yourself, and so on. This could take months, if not years.
But self-confidence can be improved by acquiring knowledge or skill. The more you practice something, the better you get at it. And the better you are at something, the more confident you become! So, even though it might take time to improve your self-confidence in something, it will still happen faster than self-esteem.