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Self-Confidence vs Self-Esteem: Understanding the Difference

self confidence vs self esteem

There is a difference between self-confidence and self-esteem. Individuals usually find it simpler to build self-confidence than self-esteem. Typically, one conflicts with the other and they end up with a long list of abilities and achievements.

People generally do not face up to their imperfections and failures, but would rather hide behind certificates and prizes. However, a long list of achievements is not sufficient for healthy self-esteem.
While people keep working on their list of accomplishments to one day feel whole they fill the emptiness with worldly things such as status and income.

Confidence comes from the Latin word fidere, which means to trust. When a person is self-confident, they begin to trust themselves and their ability to engage with the world. A self-confident person is ready to seize new opportunities and deal with difficult situations.

When one successfully completes a difficult challenge, they are able to continue to the next without feeling that they may fail. Although successful experiences contribute to overall confidence, many people may be confident in one area but insecure in another. 

When there is a lack of confidence, courage takes over. In the realm of the known, confidence operates without any hindrance, but in the realm of the unknown courage takes over. Courage is typically a more noble attribute than confidence because it requires greater strength, and typically a courageous person is one without limits.

That being said, self-confidence and self-esteem don’t always go hand in hand. It’s possible to be self-confident and to have an increasingly low self-esteem. For example, many performers and celebrities perform in front of audiences and may feel confident in their abilities on stage but have low self-esteem turning to drugs and alcohol.

The word esteem is derived from the Latin aestimare, which means to appraise, value, rate, weight, and estimate.

The difference between those who have high confidence and high self-esteem is that those who have high self-esteem do not need to prop themselves up with status or large amounts of money.

Self-Confidence Explained

What is self-confidence exactly? Self-confidence is having the ability to be confident in your abilities and how you handle things in life. When you dig a little deeper, for example, if you think you are a good person the self-confidence in yourself is the result of thinking in this manner.

The lesson to learn here is that the state of mind affects you and how you view yourself. Self-confidence also brings about more happiness. Typically, when you are confident in your abilities you are happier due to your successes. Also, when you are feeling better about your capabilities, the more energized and motivated you are to take action and achieve your goals

Self-Esteem Explained

People who are successful typically have high levels of self-esteem. While on the flip side of things those who have too little self-esteem tend to feel defeated at times or depressed due to the feeling of not moving up in the world. Those who have low self-esteem tend to make bad choices and fall into destructive relationships because they have this feeling of not belonging.

What about those who have too much self-esteem? Narcissism is the result of having too much self-esteem. A psychological definition would be an extreme amount of selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration. 

Self-esteem at high and low levels can be damaging so it is important to strike a balance in the middle. A realistic, but a positive view of the self is often ideal. Where does self-esteem come from? What influence does it have on our lives? Self-esteem is often seen as a personality trait, which means it tends to be stable and enduring.

Self-Esteem Components

There are typically three components which make up self-esteem:

  • Self-esteem is an essential human need that is vital for survival and normal, healthy development
  • Self-esteem arises automatically from within based on a person’s beliefs and consciousness
  • Self-esteem occurs in conjunction with a person’s thoughts, behaviors, feelings, and actions.

Self-esteem is one of the basic human motivations in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow would suggest that individuals need both esteem from other people as well as inner self-respect. These needs must be fulfilled in order for an individual to grow and achieve self-actualization.

Different factors can influence self-esteem. Genetic factors do shape overall personality and play a slight role but it is typically from experiences that the individual forms the basis for overall self-esteem.

  • References

    Burton, Neel. (2015). "Self-Confidence Versus Self-Esteem." Psychology Today. Retrieved here. 

    Cherry, K. (2016, August 31). How do psychologists define self-esteem? Retrieved here. 

    Fonvielle, D., & Greater, A. (2011). What is self-confidence about? Retrieved here. 

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Self-Confidence vs Self-Esteem: Understanding the Difference


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