Self-esteem and confidence are often used interchangeably to describe an individual’s level of assurance, poise, self-respect, and security. While these two concepts are often related, they are not the same.
The main difference is that self-esteem is a constant, while confidence is something that fluctuates. It is vital that you are able to foster a strong sense of both. To do this, you must first understand the origins of both and how each can be affected and changed.
Confidence vs. Self Esteem
Confidence is a huge part of your overall well-being. Being confident will help with your career, relationships, self-image, interactions, and other aspects of your life.
It isn’t uncommon for someone to be extremely confident in one area of their life, yet insecure in another. Being fully confident and comfortable with yourself in every situation is truly invaluable.
When you foster a strong sense of self-esteem, it will help you become more confident in all areas of your life. While confidence varies between circumstances, your self-esteem is a continuous part of your self-concept.
The higher your self-esteem, the more likely you will be comfortable facing a variety of situations in your life. Self-esteem is an underlying trait that directly affects how you perceive yourself in all circumstances. Self-esteem can be tricky because a lack of self-esteem will manifest in a variety of ways.
Generalized self-doubt is one way that low self-esteem can manifest. If you have low self-esteem, you may automatically assume that you won’t be good at a task and will either give up or subconsciously sabotage yourself into failing. This is your self- concept trying to prove why it has low self-esteem.
If you repeatedly fail in a variety of circumstances, your subconscious says, “I told you this would happen.” During every situation that you face, negative self-talk will rear its ugly head, telling you that you will fail, you’ll look stupid, you’ll embarrass yourself, and that others will harshly judge you. This negative self- talk is not accurate, but instead it originates from low self-esteem.
Humans are social creatures, which gives us the ability to pick up on indicators of high or low self-esteem.
It is these indicators that often affect how we respond to one another. Those who have high self-esteem are more likely to get a job, create social connections, strike up conversations, etc.
It isn’t that most people are looking to hurt those with low self- esteem intentionally, it is just a natural tendency for us to be attracted to those who exhibit confidence. We are all self-serving beings, innately trying to get ahead and when someone exudes confidence, it indicates they can help us get ahead in life.
The way in which we present ourselves can be a clear indication to those around us of our levels of confidence and self-esteem. Physical cues like slouching, talking sheepishly, or a constant downcast gaze, all indicate low self-esteem.
During conversations, expressing doubt, frequent verbalization for a need for reassurance, or indecisiveness, are also clear signs of low self-esteem. It is relatively easy to see these kinds of signs in young children and teenagers; however, many adults have learned to hide their insecurities.
Many of us have all adopted the fake-it-until-you-make-it attitude. Unfortunately, we are so focused on faking it that we never work toward fixing the underlying issues.
Another way in which low self-esteem manifests itself is a confidence-contingent outlook. It displays itself when a person relies entirely on their accomplishments to feed their self-esteem.
This is far harder to spot in ourselves and other people.
This kind of low self-esteem makes us have the need to succeed at everything so that we can feel good about ourselves.
They may also feel the urge to put others down to feel superior, which feeds their confidence temporarily. The critical factor in these cases is always contingent on outside factors and is always temporary.
It results in the continuing need to feed the self-esteem monster in an attempt to escape your true feelings. It is a vicious and draining cycle that is incompatible with peace, happiness, and real self-esteem.
If you know how to build your confidence in any situation, it will help you to develop your overall self-esteem. Confidence in separate situations is a necessary building block to retrain your mind to think more confidently.
As your confidence becomes more natural, self-esteem grows and becomes a part of your self-concept.
Thus, developing unwavering self-esteem, as well as knowing how to build confidence in specific situations effectively, are both essential components for success and well-being. So, how do you know if you lack confidence and have low self-esteem?
Here are five signs to determine if you need to work on your self-esteem and confidence.
Being indecisive often is a sign that you don’t trust yourself to make the right decision. Doubt and insecurities accompany this. Those who lack self-esteem are frequently riddled with self-doubt. Being indecisive in many situations may indicate low self-esteem, while having it in one or two situations may show a lack of confidence in those particular situations.
For example, if you are a new business owner, you may spend more time making decisions than a seasoned entrepreneur because you are frequently second-guessing yourself. As you learn and develop the appropriate skills, you’ll increase your confidence. Thus, knowledge and experience will improve confidence in individual situations.
Focused on Outside Reassurance
Self-esteem comes from your self-assurance, which means that you are confident in all situations and aren’t swayed by the opinions of others. One symptom of low self-esteem is often the frequent fluctuation in your mood based on the actions of others.
Again, if this only happens in a few situations, it merely indicates that you may have a lack of confidence in those areas. However, if it is a reoccurring theme across the board, it is an indication that you have low self-esteem.
For example, if you always need to be told that you look nice to feel good about your appearance, you likely have low confidence about your self-image. If you also need constant reassurance at work, in relationships, and during social interactions, this likely indicates that you have low self-esteem.
Hesitant to Speak Up
Being reluctant to voice your opinions is another sign you might have low self-esteem and lack confidence. It indicates an underlying doubt in what you have to say. It might mean that you are unsure if your opinion is valid, or you tell yourself that others are uninterested in what you have to say. You might fear that by speaking up, it will cause others to dislike you.
Having low confidence in a particular area may cause you to be hesitant about voicing your opinion because you may fear you are not knowledgeable enough in the field. If you are a new business owner and attend a networking event, you may not feel confident to share your thoughts with a 20-year veteran.
If you continuously fear speaking up, it is an indication that you are suffering from generalized low self-esteem. This might cause negative thoughts of doubt that ultimately prevent you from speaking up.
Inability to Take Criticism
Being focused on outside reassurances and a failure to take criticism often coincide in individuals with low self-esteem. When you need others’ approval to feel good, then hearing criticism can be crushing. For these individuals, criticism is always taken as a personal attack on the ego rather than being looked at as feedback.
When you suffer from low self-esteem, the opinions of others are valued higher than your own self-worth, the criticism is taken as truth, instead of mere opinion. When you have high self-esteem, you use these criticisms as helpful feedback and are able to listen and discard it as an untrue opinion.
Give Up Easily
Self-doubt is a substantial cause and symptom of low self- esteem. Nobody is an expert when they try something for the first time, and it requires perseverance and overcoming obstacles
before you can succeed at anything. Someone with wavering esteem can become easily defeated when they fail the first time.
While your confidence may feel shaky when you are first embarking on a new endeavor, with the appropriate level of self- esteem, you will be able to figure out how you can increase your confidence.
When you have low self-esteem, the shaky confidence can become overwhelming, causing you to give up, protecting yourself from the potential consequences and discomfort that may come with failure.