Self-esteem is NOT Self-confidence…

And how to build a sound self-esteem



2 years ago | 5 min read

The bulk of popular psychological concepts (self-esteem, self-confidence, self-worth…) are used interchangeably by most of us. Who cares?

Well, I didn’t really care until I heard a certified international coach with 20+ years’ experience explain to a group of newbie coaches that self-confidence and self-esteem are the same things.

I had goosebumps, I turned on my computer, opened a new browser tab, and wrote…

Self-esteem is not self-confidence!

A few months later, here we are… Enjoy 👍.

OK. So there are many concepts that come with nuances so let’s kick-off this article with a Q&A session 🙂.

Q: What is self-efficacy?
A: It is our aptitude to put into practice our abilities. It is generally linked to our beliefs about our abilities. Let me clarify with an example. When at rest, elephant trainers tie them with a metal chain. Adult elephants can break the chain but won’t. Why? Because they are trained to think they can’t. They are tied with a metal chain from a young age. At the time, they are unable to break it. Later when they become strong enough, they won’t even give it a try. This is what a lack of self-efficacy looks like.

This is me scared to death with a tight smile for posterity… 😱😅

Q: What is self-confidence then?
A: It is the general self-assurance one has/displays in life. Although at times it may be situational.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Q: What is self-worth?
A: it’s the value that we give to ourselves as individuals.

Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexels

Q: What is self-esteem then?
A: It’s a combination of self-worth and “what we think that others think of us”. While self-worth is purely intrinsic, self-esteem is a mix of intrinsic and extrinsic.

Photo by Alexis Chloe on Unsplash

Q: What is self-image?!
A: It’s somehow the combination of all the above stuff… A blend of social image, self-assessment, and beliefs we hold about ourselves that build a sense of self as Freud initially called it. It answers the question: “Who are we?”

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Q: What is…
A: Pleeease no more concepts! No more pictures of felines neither!!! 🙏🤗

OK thanks for the definitions (and the pictures 😄) but I got a few more questions

Q: Most people talk about how important your self-confidence is, what’s wrong with that?
A: Self-confidence is a general sense of confidence that puts us in motion in life. Too much can kill us and not enough drives paralysis.

Too much self-confidence can kill you!

But the real problem is that self-confidence is comparative. We tend to gauge it by comparing ourselves to others… this frequently generates unhealthy competition, jealousy…

On top, self-confidence built on low self-worth is an open door to arrogance.

This is especially true if our social image is important to us then we are in deep $@%#!

This is where compensations kick-in. For example, people with low self-worth fake it through high self-confidence. I can tell you I’ve met a few 😅. This is when ego, politics, and power games come into play inside companies.

Q: What’s the way out then?
A: Grow your self-worth! It’s the basis for a sound: self-esteem, self-confidence… There is no point in working the latter before the former. Let me repeat that because it is fundamental.

There is no point in growing our self-confidence before our self-worth!

If I go vegan would I grow faster as a person? 🤔

Q: How can we grow our self-worth?
A: From the core…

How to grow one’s self-worth from the core?

The best way to develop self-worth is to work on unconditional stuff. Said differently, if our self-worth is based on results, we are doomed! Either they’ll be bad and it will destroy us or we’ll be successful and we’ll quickly turn into arrogant jerks 😉.

Here are a few questions that will help you assess where you stand…

Be as genuine as possible when answering the below questions… After all, you don’t need to share the outcome of the exercise with anybody 😉.

  • Do you welcome feedback as a threat or as a treat… Does it threaten your power, your vision of the world…?
  • Do you take things personally most of the time?
  • Do you respect yourself? Integrate all aspects of life, body, and soul when answering the question. For example, do you overwork, overeat…?
  • If people go after you, are you able to defend yourself? Do you have that mighty part of you at your disposal so that you never need to use it? Let me illustrate this point; astute martial arts practitioners can break most of us in pieces within seconds but won’t. Why? Because you wouldn’t even want to try how it would feel. The mere idea that they CAN do it, makes the act totally unnecessary.
  • Would you describe yourself as an assertive person? Not to be confused with egoistic or rigid.
  • Do you suffer from any phobia? In many cases, those reflect a blow to your pride.

OK now, what?

A few hints on how to rebuild self-worth?

There is no secret recipe and the best intervention would be paying a visit to a therapist. But here a few clues:

  • Clarify your purpose in lifeLife is tough and a clear purpose gives us some strength to face it choice-fully rather than enduring unwanted circumstances.

Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

  • Respect yourself:
    . Improve your 
    . Respect your body: get proper nutrition, rest, groom yourself…
    Respect yourself like you would respect a mighty lion: as C. Jung would advise, don’t underestimate your ability to harm others (and yourself).
    Work on any phobia/fear you may have. It’s a very rewarding experience.
    . Set 
    boundaries. Don’t let people invade unwillingly your private space.

Respect thyself

  • Believe in yourself. With the help of medical imagery, it has been discovered lately that faith is an emotion. So don’t try to over-rationalize it. Emotions are very tough to prove. There are just self-evident for us. If you want to know exactly why you trust yourself it’s just like trying to explain why you love your spouse… Most can’t.
  • Stop comparing your life to others’. Stop trying to impress others. In fact, you should focus on your circle of control/influence and forget about your circle of concern. The more you worry about things you don’t influence the weaker you will feel (and be).
    From others, you shall seek inspiration. With your own self, you shall compete. — K
  • Stop gauging your value by your latest achievements.
  • Enjoy me-time.
  • Practice gratitude; even if you are in deep $@%#, you sure can find at least one thing to be grateful for. Reality is there are probably hundreds of things you are not trained to see.
  • In any situation seek your deep convictions. Don’t go with the crowd, neither should you go against it. If need be, take assertiveness training.
    We start experiencing true freedom when we break free from rebellion — K
  • Choose your acquaintances based on who you wanna be rather than who you think you are today.
    You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with — Jim Rohn
  • Never stop learning.


We can’t solve properly a problem we don’t understand. The objective of this article was to dissect self-assessment elements to know where to prioritize effort.

The key takeaway is the following:

All components of personality are important because they are complementary.

A sound self-esteem, confidence or efficacy should be grounded on self-worth.

Enjoy the rest of your life 🤗!

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Organisational Development Consultant. I help companies reduce INTERNAL FRICTION to achieve REPEATED SUCCESS. Consultant, Writer, Photographer & Music Producer.







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