After reading my blog post “You are Beautiful, know it, own it“, wherein I have shared how we must take others opinions as just ‘point of views’ and how we could keep our self-esteem always high irrespective of others judgements about us, someone asked a very relevant question; he said:
“if you take everyone’s opinions or judgements just as a ‘point of view’, and internally it has no effect on you, then there’s no way you’d feel the need to improve yourself in any area, personal or professional.”
It makes complete sense, because no matter how good you think or feel about yourself internally, the fact of the matter is, it wouldn’t change your external circumstance which could be crucial to leading a fulfilling life, such as attaining a fit and healthy body, increment in salary, career promotion or improvement in a relationship if the opposite side is dissatisfied with you, whether it’s your employer, your partner or a parent/child.
It’s important to note, this confusion ensues when you think self-esteem is the same as self-confidence. Self-confidence and self-esteem are often used interchangeably thinking the two terms have the same meaning. This isn’t true. Even though self-confidence and self-esteem seem intertwined, they are substantively different.
What is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is inward facing, it’s an emotional and cognitive assessment of your self worth. It is equivalent to unconditional self-love and it has nothing to do with the external factors such as, your career, quality or status of your relationships, money or material possessions, size of your house, your children, others views or opinions about you, or your physical appearance.
Self-esteem refers to your acceptance and the value you place on yourself. How worthy or deserving you feel in this world. The word “esteem” means to respect or admire. So by applying this meaning, when you accept yourself as just how you are, and hold high respect and admiration for yourself, it implies you have high self-esteem, and vice versa. Self-esteem essentially is overall self-evaluation as an individual.
What is self-confidence?
Self-confidence is outward facing. It’s your ability to interact successfully with the world around you. It relies on your abilities to achieve something, and it directly depends on your skill-set, knowledge or experience acquired in any given area. How confident you feel about accomplishing a goal or achieving a target, or handling a situation depends on your skill-set, expertise, and prior achievements in that particular domain.
Example explaining the difference
Example: a person may have acquired knowledge in a particular domain, and put it into practice and may have also developed impressive oratory skills which gives him the confidence to go on stage and deliver a speech or give a presentation or seminar. That’s self-confidence. However, if he falters while delivering speech or presentation, and the feedback by the audience isn’t that great or encouraging, his self-esteem would decide whether he rejects himself’ saying “I am not good at it; it’s not my cup of tea; I don’t have it in me” “I shouldn’t do it” which implies he has low self-esteem, or he accepts himself saying “it’s okay, I gave it all, I’ll learn and practice more, and perform better next time“, which stems from high self-esteem.
Even though external factors, such as others views or opinions are merely point of views, they do give us a perspective about our current abilities, and have an underlying message ‘improvement required here’, it’s called constructive criticism, which is generally viewed as helpful criticism.
As observed in the examples above, if you have high self-esteem, even if others comments may seem harsh upfront, they won’t leave negative impact, because you value yourself much more than just one performance, or others views.
And, even though high self-esteem stems from pure unconditional love for yourself, it wouldn’t let your mind cloud your discerning power which separates fact from opinion, and in turn it will push you to pay heed to the underlying message (based on a fact), urging you to take the right steps to improve that aspect further, for your personal/professional growth. For example: “you are fat”, is an opinion/view, but underlying fact is: extra inches are bulging out, and your high self-esteem would urge you to pay heed to it and take appropriate steps to get rid of it.
Interplay between the Two
Although, self-esteem could help you keep your head up despite all odds, and give you much needed push to take initiatives in your chosen field, or even help you think clearly to be able to make better decisions for yourself in life, however, you need to hone your skills, and acquire relevant knowledge, and put it into practice, to gain self-confidence in order to achieve your goals in life and climb the ladder of success in any given field.
Similarly, don’t assume that gaining high self-confidence by honing your skills and gaining knowledge in any particular field or winning medals or awards or achieving your desired goals or riches is going to automatically lead to feeling better about yourself, had that been the case none of the celebrities (be it sports or cinema or business world), would have ever fallen into depression; and people in general wouldn’t have been looking for their parents’ or partner’s or friend’s, colleagues’ approval of their choices, or appreciation for their work, creating inferior self-image and indulging in self-abuse upon not receiving desired/expected appreciation.
Not that others appreciation and compliments aren’t good to receive; it definitely feels nice to hear compliments, but making it a need to feel good about yourself or your work, can strip you off your self-worth. Because the day you internally feel that you’ve given your best, and despite that you receive below average feedback or no appreciation of your hard work, it’d make you feel low, creating inferior self-image, which could then perpetuate self-abuse.
You have to work on your self-esteem, separately. Improving your self-esteem involves working on self-acceptance by giving unconditional self-love, and the tools for improving self-esteem I have already shared in my previous articles “You are Beautiful, know it, own it“, and “Empower yourself – stop self-abuse“, please refer to these, to learn the empowering tools to boost self-esteem.
Although the best combination for anyone would be to have high self-esteem and high self-confidence, and it’s worth all the effort, because it would not only help you have unwavering high sense of self-worth, but also help you accomplish your goals and desires in life further boosting your self-confidence.
However, please do keep in mind, no matter what you achieve externally by exhibiting self-confidence, be it money, riches, awards, recognition, status, better looks, if your self-esteem is low you wouldn’t be able to enjoy any of that to the fullest as you’d still have low self worth, and because of which you’d keep looking for others approval/acceptance to feel better about yourself, because your self-importance correlates with their approval or disapproval of you, because you chose to identify yourself with them.
It is your self-evaluation of your self-worth that decides your happiness quotient. And its the high self-esteem that results in high sense of self-worth, which makes a person stay in a happy state of mind, irrespective of his external circumstances, because happiness doesn’t lie in congeniality of external factors, but lies within.