The Difference Between Self-Esteem and Confidence


The two terms are often used interchangeably, but there are actually very different. For one, self-esteem is internal, and confidence is external. Self-esteem is all about how you “esteem” yourself, while confidence is about something specific.

Using myself as an example, my self-esteem is quite high, but my confidence varies depending on the task at hand. Ask me to give an impromptu speech in front of a group of strangers and I’ll shine; I’m confident about my public speaking skills and I can come up with good things to say on the fly.

However, ask me to paint a picture and my confidence slumps. I make a poor artist. My four year-old would put me to shame! You get my point, right?

How to improve your confidence in an area:

You already know the answer; practice. If I felt strongly about being a good painter (which I do not), I would practice regularly until I was good at it. But I’m a good speaker because I’ve had years and years of practice speaking in front of different groups of varying ages – thanks to being a martial arts instructor for many years.

And when practicing, use deliberate practice. Be present in the moment and focus, the more deliberate your practice the better your learning. Also, you should do mental practice as well. Close your eyes and imagine you’re in a cinema. See yourself on the screen doing the thing over and over again perfectly. The combination of deliberate physical practice and mental practice will make you unstoppable!

Six steps to improve your self-esteem:

This is much harder to build than confidence, but it can be done. Here are the steps I suggest you take:

1) Make a firm decision that you will change the way you look at yourself.

2) Use daily affirmations, like “I’m a happy and confident person,” and “I completely love, forgive and accept myself.” Do this every morning first thing when you see yourself in the mirror.

3) Forgive yourself for what ever wrongs you may have done. Just like all human beings, you deserve to be forgiven, even forgiven by yourself.

4) Forgive those that have harmed you. The truth is you can’t feel better about yourself until you’ve let go of the anger and resentment you have of those who’ve hurt you. You’re hate only affects you.

5) Get help. Things like forgiveness are not easy at all, but the good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. The world is full of those who will help if you’r open to them. You might consider Western psycho-therapy or more spiritual methods like cranial-sacral therapy or Pranic Healing.

6) Just like confidence building, this requires emotional deliberate practice. Catch yourself saying something negative about yourself and quickly change the statement into praise, and forgive yourself for the temporary relapse.

Hope this was useful. Thanks for taking the time to read this and talk to you soon.


  1. The Difference Between Self-Esteem and Confidence | Overdrive – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization - 25 December 2013

    […] Learn how to improve your confidence. […]

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