Is it the same as self-esteem?
Both terms are often used interchangeably when referring to how we feel about ourselves. While they’re very similar, there are many differences too. It’s important to understand both their roles when we’re looking to improve our overall sense of self.
Self-esteem is how we value and see ourselves. It’s based on our opinions and beliefs we have about ourselves. It starts to form in childhood, by our experiences with family or friends, and by situations that have shaped how we view ourselves today.
Even if you’re suffering from low self-esteem, you can still be very confident in your skills and certain areas of your life. For example, you might not have high self-confidence in your writing ability but you still “like yourself.” Or you have great confidence in your sporting ability but you still “don’t like yourself.”
As with self-esteem, lots of factors can affect the development of our self-confidence. Parents’ attitudes are crucial to our feelings about ourselves, particularly in the early years. When parents provide acceptance, we receive a solid foundation for good feelings about ourselves.
So, without further ado, let’s explore self-confidence and why it’s important.
What is self-confidence?
An article from Skills you need suggests, “Confidence is not something that can be learned like a set of rules; it’s a state of mind. It comes from feelings of well-being, self-acceptance, and belief in your own ability, skills, and experience. More than that, self-confidence is an attribute that most people would like to possess.
Your degree of confidence, self-confidence, is the trust or faith that you have in yourself and your abilities.
Self-confidence is how you feel about your abilities to interact with people around you, deal with challenges, or solve problems. As with self-esteem, self-confidence may be threatened from time to time, and can also vary from situation to situation. For example, you may have high self-confidence in your ability at football but very little in your rugby skills.
Self-confidence is about trusting yourself and your ability to succeed at new challenges, tasks, and opportunities. It comes from knowledge and practice. The more experience you have in any area, the more confident you will become, which further builds your self-confidence.
What happens with self-confidence?
- you believe in yourself, feel good about who you are, what you are, and recognise that you have worth
- self-confidence allows you to have positive yet realistic views of yourself and the situations in which you are involved
- it means you accept and trust yourself, and have a sense of control in your life
- you’ll know your strengths and any weaknesses well, and have a positive view of yourself
- if you have self-confidence, typically you don’t fear challenges, and you’re able to stand up for what you believe
- and you have the courage to admit your limitations
- you’re able to set realistic expectations and goals, communicate assertively, and can handle criticism.
- you’ll be able to present yourself to others differently, and people will have confidence in you, believe in you, and see your potential
- with confidence, you’re more likely to succeed, be it in college/university, in sport, at work, or other activities
- moreover, the way you present yourself can have a profound impact on any new opportunities that might come your way
When we lack of self-confidence
The most important thing to know about low self-confidence is that it’s not your fault, says Psychology Today. Your childhood experiences, genes, culture, and other life circumstances all play a role.
If one or both parents were excessively critical or demanding, or they were overprotective, you might have come to believe that you’re inferior, incapable, or inadequate.
And although we can’t change our past experiences, we can rewire our brain, so to speak. With focus and action, we can make changes to maintain and improve our self-confidence.
More possible causes of low self-confidence
- stressful life events – such as a death of someone close, separation or divorce, being bullied at work, or being physically or verbally abused
- mental illness – like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, depression phase of Bipolar can impact on how you think or feel about yourself, your skills, abilities or knowledge
- chronic illness or physical disability – can affect your behaviours and thus impact on how you feel about yourself, your skills and abilities
- lack of interest or reduction of pleasure in activities – sometimes, due to circumstances, i.e. Covid, you may reduce or stop doing the activities you once enjoyed. After that, you don’t return to these activities and you might forget just how much you benefited from them – you just give up.
- repeated failure or rejection – if you have tried hard to complete your driving test and you keep failing, or you feel rejected by family or friends, you may develop low self-esteem, knocking your confidence
- anger – if you struggle to express your feelings, particularly anger, you could find yourself low in self-confidence as a result of not expressing your anger in a safe and responsible way
- negative thinking – sometimes you start to think negatively due to an event or situation, which can then become a habit and part of your general outlook. You might not even realise you’ve been thinking negatively, or how it’s been impacting on you
Impact of low self-confidence
The impact of low self-confidence varies greatly and can range from only impacting in one specific area, to being very restricting and debilitating. Low self-confidence can result in:
- anxiety, stress, loneliness, and increased likelihood of depression
- communication difficulties; inability to speak clearly or listen to and follow instructions
- shyness to the point it can come across as rude to some i.e. no eye contact, mumbling any greeting, inability to engage with others
- inability to assert yourself i.e. agreeing to tasks or favours when you really want to say “NO”
- social anxiety; where you’ll avoid parties, work events or large gatherings, or leave early
Worse still, these negative consequences reinforce your negative self-image and could lead to lower self-confidence. This, in turn, can lessen your ambition to learn, ability to focus, and affect your ability to reach your full potential. You might become increasingly unproductive or even actively turn to self-destructive behavior.
When we lack confidence, sometimes it’s because we worry what others might think of us. Maybe they’ll laugh at us if we make mistakes. This thinking can stop us from doing things we want or need to do because we believe that the consequences are too painful or embarrassing.
While it’s not always easy to be confident in yourself, particularly if you’re quite self-critical, or if others put you down — do not despair! There are steps that you can take to increase and maintain your self-confidence.
Why self-confidence is important
Most people admire self-confident people, and might even envy them a bit! Self-confident people appear to be at ease with themselves, in their role or their work. They invite trust and inspire confidence in others such as bosses, colleagues, customers, friends, or peers. These are attractive characteristics to have, and I think most of us would like to have them too.
Some other benefits of self-confidence:
- you’ll be more willing to try new things, like signing up for new courses, applying for a new job or promotion and taking up new hobbies
- with confidence, you can influence others more easily, as well as control your own emotions and behaviors more responsibly
- you’ll perform better when you feel confident, whether it’s at work, school or say when you have to give a presentation, you’ll stay calm and focused
- it gives you the ability to thrive in the areas you want to, be able to overcome any obstacles, and know that you can achieve your goals. i.e. as an athlete, a new student or an author
- helps in making better decisions i.e. to walk away from an abusive relationship or how to discipline your children effectively and appropriately
- brings freedom from self-doubt and negative thinking about yourself
- generally happier and more satisfied with your life than people who lack self-confidence
- more willing to take smart risks and more able to move outside your comfort zone i.e. pack in your job to travel for a year or return to studying
- helps to adapt and perform well even under pressure i.e at a new job
- assists in building better professional bonds at work
- you’ll experience less anxiety and less stress, and more fearlessness
- reduced social anxiety, allowing you to connect well with others and you’ll generally feel happier
- more comfortable in social situations and people tend to be attracted to you and your conversation
Your self-confidence will bring you more enthusiasm for life and the future. Also, you’ll transfer your excitement to others through your walk, how you hold yourself, and how you engage. Furthermore, the positive energy you project will be contagious and attractive to others. Just think about how that might feel.
Okay, we’ve covered self-confidence, what it is, the lack of and the impact, together with the benefits and the importance. So, in my next post, we’ll explore some ways to maintain and improve our self-confidence.
Over to you
Do you think you’ve gained anything from this post? I feel confident (😜) that I’ve covered the basics of self-confidence but perhaps I’ve forgotten or missed something important and you want to tell me? I’m happy for you to critique my posts, honestly, and I look forward to your feedback, comments, or questions.