Understanding Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

Self-esteem is how we value ourselves; it is how we recognise our value to the world and how valuable we think we are to others. Self-esteem affects nearly every aspect of our lives. Positive self-esteem gives us the strength and flexibility to own our lives and grow from our errors without the fear of rejection.


Here are some signs of low self-esteem:


  • Negative view of life
  • Comparing yourself to others
  • Focusing on the negatives and ignoring your achievements
  • Not accepting any compliments that you get
  • Negative self-talk
  • Being really critical of yourself
  • Perfectionist attitude
  • Feelings of being unloved and unlovable
  • Dependence – letting others make decisions
  • Fear of being ridiculed


What high self-esteem looks like:


  • Celebrating every success, no matter how small
  • Actively searching for ways to be successful
  • Encouraging others
  • Being tolerant and respecting others’ differences and your own
  • Knowing that you are a good person
  • Having high self-esteem by believing in yourself
  • Future focused
  • Enjoying the world around you
  • Feeling full of energy and hope
  • Feeling confident that you have the power to change things in your life
  • Having social connections and joining in with others
  • Accepting that you will make mistakes and you can learn from them.
  • Being happy


What is Self-Confidence?


Two main things contribute to self-confidence: self-efficacy and self-esteem.

“We gain a sense of self-efficacy when we see ourselves (and others similar to ourselves) mastering skills and achieving goals that matter in those skill areas. This is the confidence that, if we learn and work hard in a particular area, we’ll succeed; and it’s this type of confidence that leads people to accept difficult challenges, and persist in the face of setbacks.

This overlaps with the idea of self-esteem, which is a more general sense that we can cope with what’s going on in our lives, and that we have a right to be happy. Partly, this comes from a feeling that the people around us approve of us, which we may or may not be able to control. However, it also comes from the sense that we are behaving virtuously, that we’re competent at what we do, and that we can compete successfully when we put our minds to it.”


Source: mindtools.com


It is also important to remember that you can have high self-esteem in one area but lower self-esteem in another area.

If you have high self-esteem in areas that matter to you and low self-esteem in areas that are not so important- that’s manageable. However, if you have low self-esteem in areas that matter to you, this will reduce your sense of worth and chances of success.


Causes of low self-esteem /self- confidence


Here are some of the examples that could be the cause of low self-esteem:


  • Neglect
  • Abuse
  • Loneliness
  • Being unemployed
  • Poor academic performance
  • Bullying
  • Feeling like you don’t fit in

Identifying what the cause of low self-esteem is can be difficult. It may be so deep in your subconscious and hard to pinpoint when and how it came about.


Where does self-esteem and self-confidence come from?


Self- esteem develops and comes from within, but it is influenced by messages that you receive about yourself from:

  • Family -Your self-esteem is higher if you and the other members of your family talk, support and spend time with one another.
  • Friends -Your self-esteem is influenced by whether your friends support and respect you. You should not, however, base your self-esteem on what your friends think.
  • Social Life -Hobbies, clubs, dating, parties, and other social activities affect your self-esteem and help you to identify what kind of friends you like, your interests, and your goals.
  • Society -How the TV and media portray genders and other aspects of society.