We often talk of self-confidence, self-worth and self-esteem as if the terms are identical, but they are not the same at all. There are distinct differences - Someone can be very self-confident in their ability to do things, and have low self-esteem.
Self-confidence is mainly ability based, it affects our success in life in a very practical way. Throughout life we are told or we realise we are good at certain activities and we have grades, qualifications and accolades as evidence. Our level of self-confidence affects how well we manage to accomplish the goals we set. Self-confidence is visible, we often display our confidence in the way we act. We can have high confidence in some areas while having low confidence in other areas. Tenacity, practice and an encouraging mentor can help increase self-confidence.
Self-worth is how we value ourselves. What we believe we deserve, what we can accomplish, and what we should expect. We believe we are worthy and can validate ourselves regardless of external approval. Self-worth impacts our self-respect, how we set personal boundaries and maintain them. We can start to build self-worth by making decisions about what needs done in our lives and then taking action.
Self-esteem is how much we like ourselves, regardless of achievements, materialistic success or other people's opinions. It's the sum of all our perceptions of ourselves. When we have a strong sense of self-esteem, we are comfortable and happy with who we are as human beings. Self-esteem affects our approach to relationships; we are at ease with ourselves we have continuity of personality and have respect for others. Self-esteem affects our attitude to life, and our approach to day-to day living. With a healthy sense of self-esteem, we can bounce back from setbacks. Self-esteem develops when we're being true to ourselves, we do the right thing even when the choices seem difficult.
In childhood we are absorbing messages about ourselves and our abilities. Parents, caregivers, teachers and peers can encourage us or bombard us with criticism, ridicule or comparison. Resulting in a sense of being unlovable, unworthy or invisible. In dysfunctional situations we may have learnt to survive by people pleasing, never saying "no", self-sabotage, seeking approval, perfectionism or self-criticism. These coping styles may have been helpful at the time, but they may not be so useful now. Each time we deny our thoughts, opinions and feelings, we erode another part of ourselves.
Perhaps there is a particular incident or a relationship which continues to impact your sense of self.
You may not be realising your full potential, knowing you could be achieving more, yet feeling that you don't deserve it in some way.
You may feel there are two versions of yourself, a confident capable one at work, while in your personal life you lack confidence and wish it could be different.
You may feel like you don't fit in, to some aspects of your life.
You may feel self-doubt, confused and / or misunderstood, knowing your intent is different from what others say.
You may be a high achiever and feel empty and dissatisfied with yourself.
Do you compare yourself to others on social media and feel inadequate and deflated about life?
As adults we don't often reflect on what is underpinning the beliefs we hold about ourselves. Talking encourages reflection and the reprocessing of situations with the gift of adult wisdom and perspective. With new insight and the ability to accept your feelings, you can let go of the demons from the past, base your opinion on your own experience and start to enjoy being yourself, your relationships and your life.