You could be forgiven for thinking that there is no difference between confidence and self-esteem. In many places the terms are used interchangeably, almost as if they are synonyms. The reality is that they are very different indeed and that difference is important.
Confidence is generally related to a specific activity or domain. We are all more confident at some things than others. For example you might be a confident car driver but completely lack confidence as a cyclist.
Self-esteem is a more generalised condition. It tends to apply to your overall sense of self-worth. It is the value you imagine yourself to have in the world.
You can improve your confidence by becoming more competent. Competence comes through learning and practice. That learning is reinforced when you receive regular feedback from someone you trust and respect.
However, if you already suffer from low self-esteem, you may find that it has a significant impact on your ability to feel confident. It is possible that you avoid trying new things because you already believe that you will fail. When you do learn a new skill it is likely that you will find it easier to see your failures more clearly than your successes. Even when people give you positive feedback, you have the potential to drown it out with your own, negative inner voice.
In short, a woman with low self-esteem is likely to lack confidence in many different areas of her life.
The difference between confidence and self-esteem is of utmost importance when you decide to do something about it.
To become more confident at a particular skill you may need some training or skills based coaching, you will need an opportunity to practice and some feedback that you can trust. Depending on the skill you want to learn, this may come from a work colleague/manager, from joining a sports team or from attending an appropriate course.
If you want to tackle your low self-esteem you may need to dig deeper. You would do better to engage in therapy or personal development coaching. It would be useful to work with someone who can help you to understand why you don’t value yourself highly enough and who can teach you how to silence your inner critic.
Still don’t fully understand the difference between confidence and self-esteem? Try something new and challenging. If and when you fail, listen to the voice inside you. Does it encourage you to get up and try again? Yes? Then you do not lack confidence in your ability to learn (and you probably have high self-esteem) – just keep practising. If it expresses doubt (“I don’t know if I can do this”) you may lack confidence in your ability – ask someone to help you learn. However, if the voice is scornful and disparaging (“What on earth made you think you could do this? You’re useless”) then you have a problem with low self-esteem.
Please seek help because it is never too late grow into a Yellow Dot Woman.