What is the difference between Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence?

Do you feel confused if you are looking to improve your self-confidence?

If I improve self-confidence, am I also improving my self-esteem?

Are they the same thing?

Where does self- love come into it?

People often ask these questions on the path of personal improvement.

Writers in the personal development area bandy these two concepts around, so much so, that the average reader does not know the difference.

Nor do they understand how and why they are related.

The two terms are easy to confuse, as the definitions seem to relate to how  you feel about yourself. However, there is a subtle distinction that needs to be made about that notion as well.

Words have meaning and power. And. When you are looking to improve yourself, being deliberate in your use of words is a must – close enough, just won’t do it!

Understanding the intricacies and energy variance of each word will help you create a healthy balance of these fundamental characteristics of Self.

For example, if you follow a recipe that calls for onions but you use scallions instead, your dish will taste similar, but not 100% the same, as if you used onions.

Similarly, self-esteem and self-confidence overlap in generally-accepted meaning, but they are not the same.The power of each word lies in their differences.

This article will explore these differences.

Let’s look at the formal definitions of each term.


Then discuss how these definitions relate to each other.

How Are Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence Related?

Before we can determine how self-confidence and self-esteem are related, let’s examine the definitions of each term.

Definition of Self-Confidence

Self -confidence corresponds to how much credence you place in your skills, talents and abilities. The beliefs you have in your competence Some of these are skills innate. The others you learn. So, these skills, or competencies, can vary widely,as you move from task to task, situation to situation. You may be good at some areas and not at others.

At the root of confidence is the Latin word ‘fidere’ which means to trust.

So, self-confidence is about the “trust” you have in yourself, to be, do, or have certain competencies.

For example, say you are skilled in dealing with people in one-on-one environments, you may feel confident in those situations. However, when you are in a networking event with thousands of people, you may feel uncomfortable, and your self-confidence drops.

So, the notion of self-confidence appears to have boundaries or limits, based on your skill-setor level of competencies, or the “trust” level you have in your own abilities.

Because of this dynamic, it may be easier to build self-confidence, rather than self-esteem.It is the difference between repairing a broken finger versus rebuilding an entire body.

In this example. Self-confidence is the broken finger. The entire body is self-esteem.

Definition of Self-Esteem

Similar to confidence, esteem derives itself from the Latin “aestimare”, which means “to appraise.” Self-esteem is the lens from which you view yourself, your relationships, and your overall world. It is your estimation of yourself. In essence, how you value your yourself. It is a measurement system of self, the essence of who you are.

You can think of it as a measurement of your Self-Love, where your beliefs, thoughts, experiences, and early childhood environment, together with the feedback (both positive and negative) you get from the external world, and those who inhabit that surrounding environment, which determine how you see yourself. The sum of these parts: your inner and outer world, influences your self-image.

And. This self-image, when evaluated, forms the basis of your self-esteem.

So, this measurement system, your evaluation of who you are and how you see yourself, is a measurement of your self-esteem.

This is why it can range from high to low.

From an opposite view. if you do not have self-confidence in many areas, or have a high concept of self, then your value of yourself, your self-esteem, will mean that your ability to love yourself, a little or a lot, will be very hard for you to do.

Extrapolating on those concepts means that this lack of self-love will mean that you most probably, do not take good care of yourself. And. The hidden, underlying reasons as to why this is so, is that you, may well have an underlying belief that you are not good enough. You don’t deserve good. Or. Deserve love. Or, that you place no value on your worth. (We will not discuss these aspects here in depth. You can read about these issues in the how to let go and move on guide.)

It is interesting to see how self-confidence and self-esteem intersect each other.

Which Comes First: Self-Confidence or Self-Esteem?

For starters, your self-confidence is situational and is based on, and is related to your estimate of how much credence you place on your competency in that particular skill,talent or ability.

Whilst your self-esteem, is a system of measurement on how you value yourself.

In essence, you can more easily see or understand it, as a reflection of your overall self-image.

Imagine you have a string of situations where you feel out of your element. Or.Maybe over a few years, you tried to accomplish a goal but failed. This perpetual failure could negatively affect your level of self-confidence. And. By extension, reduce your self-esteem.

When you are not accomplishing your goals or learning new skills to your satisfaction,your self-confidence may well take a hit, because you have not been able to increase your competence level.

So, your level of self-confidence, hinges on you feeling competent enough, in a particular area.The unfortunate thing for many people is that, this self-confidence does not necessarily extend across all areas.

It is very situational.

There is another interesting fact about the relationship between self-confidence and self-esteem.

Working on one will usually have a direct effect on the other.

The opposite is also true.

A drop in self-confidence can decrease your level of self-esteem.

Poor self-esteem may also cloud the areas of your life where you shine.

You can have high esteem, but low confidence in some areas, though this permutation is often not as detrimental as having low self-esteem.

Why? Because self-confidence is generally isolated to a particular area and can improve with less effort.

This easiness of confidence, can lead to a person having a long list of accomplishments but,have a mix-match level of self-esteem. These skills, talents and abilities, can just become a cover for their lack of self-esteem.

It’s like bluffing.People can project to the world that they are confident, strong and unbreakable. However, this could all be ego talking. Bravado.

Hiding behind a mask of really feeling inferior, and just hoping not to be found out.

You’ve heard the term before: “Fake it til’ you make it!

And, Sometimes, that works. By adopting an air of confidence eventually the body/mind will catch up, and you will then find that you do have confidence. (NLP instructors adopt these states often.)

It is an interesting paradox.

You’ve probably seen examples of each of these cases many times in a family member, friend, or maybe even in yourself.

The person has hundreds of innate skills, talents and abilities, or just one exceptional talent, but still feels uncertain about their capabilities.

This uncertainty renders them with low-self-esteem.

They may be the best in their fields, but they still question their skill level.

Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence


Because self-esteem is the measurement of how a person values themselves.

In Summary:

Self-love comprises all of the many components of your beliefs, experiences,and skills, talents and abilities you have gathered along the way.The combination of your inner world and your outer world. This forms your self-image.

As you gain skills and become competent in areas, this will increase your self-confidence with respect to those areas of learning.

Do you trust those abilities?

So, the basis, the foundation for self-confidence is empirical.

You might say to yourself: “If I have put in this amount of work and feel that I have mastered those skills, then “legitimately”, I can feel successful in that area. I can trust that how I feel about myself is warranted. I can feel justified in feeling those positive feelings about myself.”

Whereas, self-esteem, the mechanism by which you “appraise” or value your worth, is very subjective. The essence of this value stems from how you feel about yourself, based on the combination of your beliefs, experiences, attitudes and training in your early childhood.

If you have been surrounded by care-givers, relations, friends, teachers and so on, who have themselves, a low sense of self-worth, then, necessarily, this will have influenced your opinion of yourself.

Unfortunately, this early training carries forward and at your core, your essence, even though you might appear confident and successful, you may feel this lack of worth and deserving.

In essence, the combination of all of these elements, represents your assessment of your worth, your esteem.

So, your self-esteem is how you value, “appraise” yourself as a person.

And.Unfortunately, your own senses of worth and value will over-rule anyone else’s opinion of you as a person. True, strong self-esteem, is self-generated.

Growing Self-Confidence in These Three Steps

There are many ways to grow self-confidence healthily and holistically. Some examples include, a change of environment, learning something new or getting an opportunity to do something you are great at, can quickly shift
feelings of low self-confidence.

Here are three fail-safe ways to boost self-confidence:

1. Use Positive Affirmations

Note this does not say ‘use positive statements.’ Positive statements are helpful, but they lack the emotional push of a powerful affirmation.

Affirmations are positive words or phrases that affirms a thought form, pattern of behaviour, or desired state of being. The key is, there must be positive emotion attached to the affirmations, for them to be effective.

Most people unconsciously affirm thoughts and behaviours throughout the day., often are not positive.
When used correctly, positive affirmations help you build the mindset to “trust” yourself more.

2. Identify Deficiencies in Skills or Knowledge and Bridge the Gap

Many times, low self-confidence comes from a gap in experience, resources, and knowledge. The difference between where you are and where you think you should be is what causes friction. Filling this gap via education and skill-building reduces resistance and can boost your self-esteem.

3. Reduce Negative Self-Chatter.

This is the voice that tells you, that you are stuck, you can’t do anything right, and tries to convince you not to try that new thing. It is detrimental to both your self-esteem and self-confidence.

In addition to the above, you can use the following activities to increase your self-confidence.

  • Learn something new
  • Chronicle your wins
  • Practice Self-Love and Self-care strategies to increase confidence.
    Think about how good you feel when you do something good for yourself.

If you are a reader, here are three books you can read to increase your confidence.

The Best Self-Confidence Books

If you want to dive deeper into developing your self-confidence, here are three books that will help you boost it!

Book #1:  Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Brown’s is a forerunner in research on vulnerability and self-worth.
A must read for anyone building self-confidence.

Book #2: The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

Published in 1952 this title is a self-improvement classic.

Book #3: The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know (Katty Kay and Claire Shipman)

An informative guide that outlines the importance of self-confidence.

The End of the Self-Confidence v Self-Esteem Conflict

Now that you have a clear understanding of the intrinsic relationship, and then can articulate the difference between self-esteem and self-confidence,how are you going to use this knowledge to fuel your personal growth and expansion?

What are you going to do first? Build your self-confidence?


Tackle the entire self-esteem system?

I know what I’d do.

Let me know of your progress.


The Difference Between Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence: Master Both for Greater Self-Love 1

How to Become
More Confident!

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How to Become More Confident!

Learn the techniques guaranteed
to increase confidence.

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