Self-confidence, self-esteem and living in my integrity

Self-confidence and self-esteem and living in my integrity

Self confidence and self esteem are words that are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing. In reality, although they are connected to each other, they have completely different meanings.

So what does each mean then?

Let’s take the concept of self confidence first. Self confidence is a measure of what we are capable of doing – what we are good and clever at doing, or what we find difficult or are not good at doing. Self confidence is about what we can achieve. It is more of an external, acquired quality.

Self esteem, however, is our knowledge about, and experience of, who we are being. It could be envisaged as a kind of inner pillar, centre or core. People who have a healthy, well developed sense of self-esteem feel self-contained and at ease within themselves. Described from within, the healthy self-esteem says “I am all right, and I am of value just because I exist!” In contrast, those with low self esteem feel uncertain, self-critical and guilty – although their behaviour might seem contradictory and self-promoting.

If you have healthy self-esteem then self-confidence is rarely a problem but it is not the same the other way around.

It is important to know that bolstering the self-confidence of someone will not automatically bolster their self-esteem if it is low. How capable we are does not make us feel better about who we are inside necessarily. It’s good to train, develop, praise, encourage and support someone’s ability to achieve – but their wellbeing needs to be looked after as well.

When I explain to people who have known me a long time about what challenges I experienced growing up (you can read more here) and how they impacted my self-esteem as an adult they are often surprised. “But you seemed so confident” they will say, which used to confuse me as I knew how much I had hated myself at the time and how insecure I had felt about myself.

Understanding the difference between self-confidence now and self-esteem I can see how I appeared confident to try to cover up how bad I was really feeling inside. I felt a lot of shame about who I was and didn’t want anyone to see me. And so I would wear different masks to try to fit in, to be liked and to try to be like everybody else. This only led to an even lower sense of self-esteem as I was constantly trying to be someone I wasn’t.

Learning how to have a higher self-esteem has been a discovery of who I am,  and a commitment to living in my integrity and expressing myself authentically. I now feel a genuine sense of confidence having dropped the masks and being true to myself.

How do you feel about yourself?