Confidence vs. Self-Esteem

“Confidence is a preference for the habitual voyeur of what is known as (parklife)” Blur

Or, as defined by my colleague’s dictionary:

Confidence n: firm trust, faith; belief in one’s own abilities; boldness; something revealed confidentially.


Self-esteem n: confidence and respect for oneself; an exaggerated opinion of oneself.

(I’m not aware of any song lyrics involving self-esteem. If you know of any do let me know.)

I ponder confidence and self-esteem quite a lot as I believe I have bags of the first & none of the second. I always believe, in simplistic terms, that self-confidence is belief in what you can do, whereas self-esteem is belief in who you are.

Now I can do quite a lot of things, including plenty that I know terrify many people, and I will barely lose sleep over them. For example: walk into a room full of strangers & start a conversation? No problem. Go on stage in front of hundreds of people? Ok then. Sashay down a catwalk? Happy days. Incidentally none of these examples relate to my current employment, which also takes balls of steel but more on that another time.

For all that I can do things, I lack any belief in my actual myself. A long time ago, in tentatively broaching this subject with two friends, I described myself as “hideous”. The reply from one was “That’s well harsh, babe.” They then started discussing Eastenders. Unsurprisingly, I retreated from discussing the subject with anyone for several years.

Feeling that you are worthless is a tricky thing for anyone else to comprehend, especially someone who likes you. However, I don’t use words like “worthless” or “hideous” lightly. I use them because if I am truly honest on my view of myself, these are words that come to forefront before any others.

Now I’m well aware this is an unhealthy state of affairs and something that I need to address, which leads me on to why I wrote this in the first place…

What do you do? How do you take a belief in an ability and turn into a belief in the owner of that ability? How do you nurture self-esteem? Answers on a comment box-shaped postcard, please.


11 thoughts on “Confidence vs. Self-Esteem

  1. How do you nurture self-esteem? By removing yourself from people or situations that negatively impact on it.

    People don’t suddenly develop low self-esteem, it is caused by third parties – maybe you are being bullied, are out of your depth in or simply dislike your job; maybe your partner is cheating on you or manipulates you or simply offers you little in the way of emotional support.

    You need to take a step back, critically assess your life, and simply cut out the rot that is keeping you trapped in an endless cycle of low self-esteem and low mood. It really is that simple – trust me.

  2. Great post highlighting a tricky issue. You sound very much like someone I know. I am not convinced there is much you can do about it except to work hard on recognising that you have great qualities which you utilise and which have got you where you are today. I would love to have the confidence to walk into a room of strangers and just start talking.

  3. Fab first blog – many more I hope.

    Cognitive Behavourial therapy helps people reassess negative self belief. Talking Therapies have a software program that allows one to work through things at your own pace & is customised to address issues relating to you personally. Would highly recommend it x

  4. I agree with Hurhurher, but more often than not we are our own harshest critics. It is most likely your inner voice that you need to stop listening to. If a real life person told you you were hideous or worthless, I’m sure you would think it was out of order and would choose not to accept that behaviour. Your harsh inner voice needs to be treated in the same way – don’t accept it.

    Be kind to yourself x

  5. Having never seen you in person, I only know the you that we see online, which is someone who’s witty, creative and caring, which I believe is the real you. Of course, as you say, it is a little harder to convince ourselves of that.

    As well as the excellent suggestions that come before me, I’d say indulge in a little vanity once in a while, as in moderation, it can be good for you. Put on your favourite clothes, look in the mirror making note of your best features and walk down the street with your head up, feeling a little bit special. Like all things, a little boost once in a while can go a long way.

    Take good care of yourself, you deserve it 🙂

  6. Therapy will only work if you are willing to remove from your life whoever or whatever is triggering your self doubt.

    My own experience:

    I used to go out with a guy who was subtly manipulating me the entire time we were together – little things like taking hours and hours to reply to texts, maybe completely ignoring me for a day or two, getting me to pay for dates most of the time, looking down on my friends and my career choices etc. He continuously chipped away at my self-confidence and because it was relatively subtle, I didn’t notice. But my friends did, and none of them liked him. I even lost a friend because of him, when she told me she was convinced he was cheating on me.

    It wasn’t until I had to go abroad for a couple weeks for work that I had the mental space to reflect on our relationship. He wasn’t ‘a bit damaged’, he was a parasite who got a kick out of controlling people. When I got home, I looked at his text messages when he was in the shower – the only time in my life I have ever invaded someone’s privacy in this manner but I think it was justified – and found out he had been cheating on me with at least two other women. After he left my apartment that day, I put the belongings he’d kept there in a box, had a courier deliver it to his workplace, changed the lock on my front door and changed my cell phone number the next day. I gave him no explanation even though he called and emailed me for weeks asking “What have I done wrong?”.

    My friends told me I was like a completely different person when I was with him and after I cut him out of my life it was like i’d snapped out of a hypnosis. Ever since then, i’ve never been afraid to distance myself from people like him, and my self-confidence levels are just fine now.

    My story is about an ex but i’ve seen bosses and colleagues use similar techniques to chip away at people’s self-confidence.

    You just need to work out what is triggering your lack of self-esteem. It’s not easy, but if you don’t do it, you’ll remain in an endless cycle of self-doubt and self-loathing. And don’t blame yourself – it’s not your fault.

  7. Pingback: Are you confident you have no self esteem? | Jackie Walker

  8. As I read both your and Jackie’s posts, I remembered my brother’s post from a few months back:

    I had never really considered the difference between the two until I read that post. But I like Jackie’s idea of taking things you feel confident about and using “I am” statements with the qualities that help you do the things your confident about. It really does help to find statements that you can repeat to yourself that help to build your self esteem, and as you feel better about yourself, you can also improve your ability to do many things.

    thanks for sharing!

  9. The first thing I want to do is reach out and give you a big “virtual cuddle”. Good, now I’ve done that let me thank you for writing a great post. Most people talk about confidence and self-esteem or “SELF” as one of the same thing. Clearly they’re not.

    I think it goes back to how people see you and how you see yourself. I’ve discussed this concept many time in a business context, however I think it’s a good way to look at confidence Vs. self-esteem.

    Most people that know me would probably describe me as very confident, which I am but I haven’t always liked myself very much. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about 2 years ago and part of my illness was falling into a deep depression (didn’t take my meds kids!!) and it took me a long time to regain my confidence and self-esteem. I’m now in a really good place because I’m helping other people with mental health issues, which is making me feel good about myself.

    I think there has been some good advice from the other contributors here, so it’s worth trying one or two things. Don’t be too hard on yourself though. You may want to think about what you have to give to others (I’m sure you have plenty), which I’m confident you will find rewarding and help with your sense of “SELF”

    Good luck in your journey Princess – keep blogging, you have a real talent here!

    By the way, I’m reading your blog because I’m curating for my website “Bipolar and Proud” and would like to post this article to it.

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