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Self-Confidence vs. Self-Esteem

What's worth more to you, something that you've earned or something that some random person gave to you?

Exactly. And that's the difference between self-confidence and self-esteem.

Self-esteem is a misnomer. Self-esteem is what you develop if you have people telling you you're wonderful, smart, good-looking, etc. And that's not a bad thing, but it's a poor substitute for real self-confidence. The big difference is that it takes a lot less to destroy self-esteem than it does self-confidence.

Self-confidence is what you develop through improving yourself and overcoming obstacles. If you're confident in yourself, you know that you're smart, talented, or whatever because you have proven it to yourself.

Example: I've always known I was smart and good at science. People told me this was the case and it was obvious, but it was never a real challenge. Graduating from a good university with a decent GPA? No big deal. Then I got into web design. Some aspects of it were really easy (the idea of "image resolution" for instance), but the design part...not so much. But I worked at it and figured out ways to work around my weaknesses. I've become a damn good web designer through hard work and therefore I'm confident in my abilities and it carries over into other aspects of my life.

Another example is becoming a good dancer. I have very little natural ability and do get frustrated when I meet the people who are "naturals," but I've become good in spite of my lack of ability and receive some amazing compliemtns on a regular basis. This helps my self-esteem (as they're external compliments), but they also reinforce my self-confidence. If someone tells me I'm a bad dancer, I'm secure enough to either:

  1. Look at how good they are and possibly agree that while I'm not in their league, I am a good dancer overall or
  2. Realize they don't know what they're talking about.

One example of why confidence is more important than self-esteem is abusive relationships. Someone who's self-confident is much less likely to put up with emotional abuse.

Example: A woman, Carol, has decent self-esteem, but isn't very confident. She meets a guy, Steve, who tells her she's beautiful, wonderful, etc. and seems really great and sincere. Her "self"-esteem goes way up. They start dating. After a while, he starts to find little things to pick at and stops giving her the compliments. She used to get her self-esteem boost from Steve, but she's not getting it anymore.

He continues to make his little "digs" and snarky comments. And continues to tear her down. After a few months of this, Carol's friends are wondering why she's staying with this loser and the answer is that she thinks she deserves the abuse. This is the same guy who used to say all these nice things about her and if he's being mean now, it must be her fault. In fact he told her it was her fault.

If Carol had confidence in herself, she'd know better.

Just a thought.

Good Luck!!!

- "Mr. Nice Guy"