Do you know the difference between Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence?

Do you know the difference between Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence?

Self-esteem and self-confidence are often confused. They are not the same. There are some fine but crucial points of difference.

What is self-esteem?

Self- Esteem is valuing oneself unconditionally, if you are alive you can have full self- esteem. Go on, you have permission. Self-esteem is valuing yourself as a human being. When a baby comes into the world, it can’t do anything. It can’t clean up after itself, feed itself or even stay alive without help. Yet we value it absolutely, we say it is special, unique and precious. And it is! You were a baby like this once, your value and worth is intrinsic. It is there all the time, no-one can take it away from you. If you think you have low self esteem, just remember the baby and how precious and special it is, then apply that awe and gratitude to yourself. You are alive, you have the powers of thought, emotion, speech & movement. You can do things! When you think about the amazing freedom of being alive and being able to think, feel, speak and behave as you want, this is awe inspiring. Remember to be in awe of your human powers and remember how special and unique you are. No-one is quite like you. No matter what you do or who you are you can esteem yourself.

What is self-confidence?

Self-Confidence is having the confidence that you can do this or that thing. It is about your skills and performance and is conditional. If you are competent at a certain skill, you can be confident that you can do that. Confidence is conditional upon you being good at the said skill. If you are not good at it, there is no use being confident. If you are confident that you can skydive buy you’ve never done it before and know nothing about it, that is recipe for disaster. Confidence without competence will make you a fool. Your confidence will improve naturally as your competence increases. There is another element that you can be confident in that can help you improve your confidence at any skill…

What is self-efficacy?

Self-Efficacy is the understanding and belief that comes from becoming confident at a number of different skills. As you learn and master each new skill, your confidence in your ability to learn becomes stronger and you start to believe in your own efficacy. The thinking goes like this: “I’ve learnt to walk, talk, think for myself, drive a car, do pilates, bake a cake, look after myself, insert other skills here, so I’m able to learn anything. I may not know how to do it right now, but I know how to find someone to teach me and I know how to spend the time and resources necessary to learn a new skill, so yes, I could do anything!

Self- efficacy is wonderful feeling. It is often confused with self-confidence, the difference being efficacy is the confidence in your own learning skills, it has nothing to do with any one particular performance so it becomes unconditional. You can have a high self-esteem and a high self-efficacy all the time, unconditionally, however your self-confidence would be different depending on how competent you are at each different thing.


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Where people get confused.

It is very important to separate self-esteem from the other two because if your sense of worth and value ( your self-esteem ) is riding on how good you are at something then you can feel great one day and terrible the next. This does not make for a very happy person. You will never be excellent at everything, because human beings are always learning, and that’s ok. You can feel good about yourself even if you lose a sports match or don’t perform as well as you would like at any one thing, because you know that success or or failure at that one thing does not affect your worth and value as a person. You are worth so much more than the total of everything you do.

Now that you understand the difference between the three, how do you think you’re going?

  • Do you esteem yourself unconditionally?
  • How high is your self-confidence to do something you’re really good at? 0-10
  • how high is your self-confidence to do something that you’ve just started to learn? 0-10
  • How much do you believe you can learn anything you put your mind to ( Self-efficacy )?  0 -10

Exercises to improve each…
You can improve your self-esteem by being kind to yourself. Say daily positive affirmations and remember that you have powers and uniqueness that no-one else has. Remember to separate your being-ness and worth from how good you are at any particular thing.  Take a moment each night to celebrate your day’s successes and remember how special and unique you are.

Improve your self-confidence by practicing whichever skill or performance you would like to be more confident at, when you are  competent, or masterful at that performance the confidence will come. Keep practicing!

Improve your self-efficacy by thinking about, and listing, all the things in your life that you’ve learnt, from the smallest to the biggest. Think about the process of learning, find the similarities in the learning journey. You know this journey. You know the steps, so even if you don’t know exactly what you will be doing, you can be confident that you can handle it.

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