Self-Confidence vs Self-Esteem: The Journey to Being Oneself

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Written by Noemie Akridge

Being oneself can sometimes feel overwhelming. At times we wonder if our ego is to blame or if its a lack of confidence that is preventing us from moving forward. But what are self-confidence and self-esteem? Are they the same? Do they serve the same purpose? And how can we develop them in ourselves? These are some fundamental questions that we all ask ourselves from time to time. Both self-confidence and self-esteem play a major part in the construction of our identity. Today, we are going to dissect them both and try to comprehend the spectrum of emotions they generate.

What is self-confidence and what is self-esteem?

The fine line between self-confidence and self-esteem is sometimes blurry. The word “confidence” comes from the Latin “fidere” which means “to trust” whereas “esteem” comes from “aestimare” meaning “appraising, valuing, estimating, rating, weighting”. In other words, being self-confident is having a deep trust in oneself and more precisely, in one’s skills and abilities to have a successful interaction with the world. Confidence relies a lot on what is known, what we can evaluate as certain and prove feasible. On the other hand, self-esteem is more of a clear-cut emotion encompassing the appraisal of our own value and the matrix of our relation to ourselves, the world and others. Ideally, self-confidence and self-esteem would balance each other perfectly and create an energetic harmony within us.

Unfortunately, finding the equilibrium between these two qualities is sometimes trickier than it seems and a person who has a lot of self-confidence may not have healthy self-esteem.

The danger of misunderstanding self-esteem

Having insecurities and doubts is a natural and common process of the heart and mind. Mastering the healthy balance of aligning our senses and reason can be a demanding process. Self-esteem can be a tricky thing to develop in our busy lives because it requires active work on our part. Collectively we seem to perpetuate certain false notions of what self-esteem consists of. The misconceptions include: taking pride in your income level, your status in society, your notoriety, the amount of luxury you can display and your excesses; implying that anyone who doesn’t have these things is inferior. Having healthy self-esteem is in fact, quite opposite.

Taking care of yourself, encouraging your community and participating actively in creating a nourishing environment are all results of balanced self-esteem.

Being accepting and forgiving of yourself and others is a process of letting go of the inevitable mistakes in life and choosing not to let them impact your spirit. Because who doesn’t make mistakes?

The difference between self-confidence and courage

When you happen to be running low on self-confidence, courage comes in and takes over. We can describe courage as the noble part of our spirit, it is an unstoppable force that can help us face the unknown with fearlessness. Courage can be a catalyst of your greatest strengths. This is why it is often considered to be an invaluable, precious virtue that overcomes the power of self-confidence itself. Our self-confidence relies on our own strength and reasoning, while courage draws from the tremendous instincts of the body and soul at its core. Courage will give you the resources to subsume a world of inexhaustible possibilities. This is where courage asks our self-confidence a crucial question: “What would you do if you were not afraid?”

How to improve self-esteem and boost self-confidence?

There is no miracle solution when it comes to improving self-esteem and self-confidence, the answers will be different for each and every one of us. However, there are some keys that I can give you which can help you boost your self-confidence and improve your self-esteem in a deep, healthy and meaningful way :

1) Value your resilience

Your resilience is what sets the fear of failure or rejection apart and makes room for emotional growth. When we accept our mistakes, failures and other setbacks as learning opportunities, we do not allow them to impact us negatively.

2)   List your strengths

Take some time to sit down and think about your strengths and best qualities. Grab a paper and a pen and list them. With this simple act, you connect with your self-confidence and set the record straight.

3)   Would you tell a friend or family member what you tell yourself?

Many statements you make about yourself are magnified by past life experiences, current insecurities or trauma. Because processing these emotions is a journey of its own, maybe the easiest way to see our judgments towards ourselves clearly is to question their validity. Would you say this to a close friend or a family member? This question might help you discern a harsh and unjustified judgement of yourself from constructive criticism of your actions.

4)  Cherish your body and soul

Caring for yourself is important. Treating your body with respect and care, as well as nourishing your soul, are important landmarks of daily life. This can come in many forms: a yoga class, a nice cleanse, meditation, letting go of a friend who treats you badly or simply going to the movies. Self-care is not selfish.

5)  Take the first step

Taking the first step and not waiting to receive praise or criticism from others, for example, can be an extremely rewarding experience. This can be an act of courage or the result of healthy self-confidence and self-esteem. Just as much as making the first step and forgiving a loved one after a dispute, trying something new that used to scare you or applying for a job you thought was out of reach. Taking risks and attempting the impossible are often a consequence of balancing our self-confidence and self-esteem in a harmonious way.

On the road to courage

Identifying the differences between self-confidence and self-esteem and understanding why we are lacking one or the other is a huge step in a new direction. Both are equally important in our personal development and improving their levels in our lives can lead to a beautiful spiritual breakthrough: having the courage of being oneself, inside and out.

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