These two terms are often misunderstood or confused with one another. Many assume they are simply just two different words for the same thing, but this is not true. You can have plenty self-esteem and minimal self-confidence. The opposite is also true.

Having both is important. You will be more successful, happier in general, and happier with yourself if you can cultivate both qualities.

Self-Esteem or Self-Confidence – What is the Difference?

Here is how self-confidence and self-esteem are two different things:


1. Self-confidence is situation specific.

You can have a lot of self-confidence regarding your ability to do math, host a great party, or to play basketball. You can simultaneously have zero self-confidence in your ability to cook or sing.

  • Self-confidence is the amount of trust you have in yourself to do a particular task well.

2. Self-esteem is the general impression you have of yourself.

Self-esteem is a form of self-love. It is how pleased you are with yourself overall. You can have a lot of self-confidence and truly little self-esteem. The opposite can also be true.

3. Self-confidence is easier to build.

Self-confidence is the result of preparation and success. For example, if you prepare well for an exam, you will have confidence in your ability to do well on that exam. When you have a history of doing well at something, you will develop self-confidence in that area.

4. Self-esteem cannot be built with achievements, but self-confidence can.

A wall full of trophies and awards can really boost your self-confidence. However, it may do little for your self-esteem. You can be great at something without valuing yourself.

Building self-confidence is work, but the work that needs to be done is clear. If you want to be confident at shooting free-throws, shoot 100 of them each day until you are consistently successful. Practice giving speeches until you are good at giving them and you will develop self-confidence in that area of your life.

Learning to love and accept yourself more will help you build self-esteem.

Here are some techniques to practice building your self-esteem:


1. Identify your values and use them to guide your decisions.

List your values and refer to your list often. Think about changes you can make to your life to live according to your values. Failing to adhere to your values is a leading cause of low self-esteem.

2. Reject perfection.

If you are trying to be perfect, you are going to fail. If you consistently fail at living up to a standard, your self-esteem will suffer. Lower the bar to something achievable and give yourself the chance to be pleased with yourself.

3. Volunteer.

Spend some of your time each week helping others that are less fortunate. This is a great way to show yourself that you are a kind and giving person. Find an organization that serves a cause that you feel empathy for.

4. Manage your self-talk.

If you spend all day insulting yourself, it is tough to feel good about yourself. There is no way to permanently shut down your inner chatter, but you can manage it. Stop yourself when you notice negative self-talk and turn it to something positive.

You can have one without the other. But it is so much more powerful to have both than to only have one. You can be wildly successful with just self-confidence, but your successes will never make you happy or satisfied. Both work together synergistically to create a life experience that can not be duplicated any other way.

Build self-confidence in the areas that serve you. Build your self-esteem so you can love yourself.


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