Self confidence vs self esteem
Saturday, December 08, 2018
Meriam Webster says that self confidence is: “confidence in oneself and in one’s powers and abilities.” Whereas M-W defines self esteem as: “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self respect.” They are similar it is obvious, and yet they are just dissimilar enough to not be synonymous. I can I have confidence in my abilities, yet lack confidence in my inherent worth, basing my self confidence solely on the proof provided by the success of the projects or relationships which “prove” the strength or righteousness of my “powers and abilities”...But what happens when a project or relationship fails or crumbles? Does my self confidence then crumble as well? Does basing my self worth on such ephemeral and unstable ground make me ripe for low self esteem?
If I don’t also have a sense of my own worth and respect for my abilities separate from the possible outcomes. A sense of being complete within myself apart from other relationships and projects. I am not saying self esteem such as this is always easy to cultivate, or even that I necessarily know how to build a sense of self esteem. (And of course, there is always the danger of tipping past the point of healthy self esteem into hubris...). I just find it intriguing that we (and I include myself in that “we”) use the terms self confidence and self esteem fairly interchangeably, when really they mean different things. I harp on this occasionally... the importance of language, or rather the accurate use of language. Words are powerful. With a well placed word or two we can boost up or undercut someone else’s self confidence or even their sense of self esteem. For example, last year I posted a picture of myself on the community feed... it got a big response, which was gratifying and made me feel like I was being heard and acknowledged, but there was one negative comment out of over 100 positive comments... guess which one I remember? Yep, the one negative one. Possibly, because it was the only one of its kind, possibly because it was a comment about a physical attribute that I am self conscious about anyways, and maybe because my self confidence was not so strong that I could shrug off an unkind word. Did it mean that I had no self esteem? No, it may have shaken my self confidence for a little while, but I believe my self esteem is as it has been... sometimes healthier, sometimes shakier. It’s hard not to judge oneself and devalue oneself when you spend a large portion of your adult life morbidly obese and being judged and devalued by others, and society as well.
I have changed that reality, but sometimes I forget that I changed things. I occasionally think I am still back there in that space. I have to remind myself that I changed. Physically, mentally, emotionally I am a different, healthier person than I used to be. Most of the time it is simpler to find my self esteem now, simply because I can see proof of my self worth... in my determination and dedication... and I have built myself some self respect from the ground up.