It's easy to confuse self-confidence with self-esteem, and self-esteem with self-worth.
Although they each have an impact on one-another, they are different things.
Self-confidence is the attitude you have about your skills and abilities. When you have self-confidence, you are more willing to trust yourself and make choices that make you feel more in control in your life. You are fully aware of both your strengths and your weaknesses, but you don’t spend time ‘beating yourself up’ about things you don’t do well. Instead, you are comfortable either acknowledging that you don’t know how to do something, or be willing to learn how to do it better! There is little or no negative self-talk when you have self-confidence. Instead, your inner-voice is helpful and serves you. You believe in yourself.
Self-esteem refers to a person's beliefs about their own worth and value. People often make decisions and choices for their lives based on their self-esteem and, if it’s negative, it can stop you from taking action or accomplishing things that you would otherwise be perfectly capable of doing. A low self-esteem can cause consistent stress because you are always questioning yourself. If your self-esteem is very low, it can be paralyzing. Negative self-talk is always present when there is low self-esteem.
Self-worth is about valuing yourself. Merriam-Webster defines self-worth as “a feeling that you are a good person who deserves to be treated with respect." Regardless of what others say or do, people with a healthy sense of self-worth accept themselves and treat themselves with respect.
These three 'selfs' are similar, but different.
There are many ways to begin building up your self-confidence, improving your self-esteem, and growing your sense of self-worth.
To build your confidence, pick something from this list and begin practicing it daily (then keep moving through the list!):
Dump the idea of perfection (“Perfect” is not a real thing - remind yourself of that and aim for always doing your best!)
Smile more (Smiling causes your brain to send more feel-good chemicals out into your body - when you feel good, you naturally relax. When you are relaxed, you will automatically be perceived as being more confident.)
Compliment other people (Giving genuine compliments to others allows your ego to take a back-seat! Confident people can always find good things in other people and are comfortable making it about them, whereas people who lack confidence are always making everything about themselves.)
Actually look at people when you are talking to them (There is nothing that says ‘I am trustworthy and believable’ than making eye contact. It also, contrary to popular belief, will make you feel more at ease, since human brains are hard-wired to talk to another human face.)
Practice gratitude (Appreciate what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t have. People who lack confidence complain a lot; people who have self-confidence don’t. Get in the habit of coming from a place of abundance, not a place of scarcity. You already have everything you need….)
Play to your strengths (Step up and do more of the things at which you are good! The more you demonstrate your competence, the more you demonstrate your confidence - and it feels good to accomplish things.)
Be OK with your imperfections (You are not going to be good at everything...please don’t think you are or even try to be! You don’t need to be. There are things we all do well, and there are things we don’t do well. That’s OK! After all, your weaknesses are someone else’s strengths - get comfortable with letting someone else shine in those moments.)
Set goals to achieve, and then work towards achieving them (The more you say you are going to do something, and then you actually do it, the more confidence you will feel.)
To improve your self-esteem, pick something from this list and begin practicing it daily (then keep moving through the list!):
Cut yourself some slack! (Chances are, you would never treat a friend the same way as you treat yourself. We have a bad habit of ‘bullying’ ourselves. Get in the habit of calling your own bluff when you tell yourself anything negative, such as “I can’t do that” or “You’re so bad at that.” Challenge that negative self-talk constantly!)
Say “no” more often (Low self-esteem can come from giving away too much of your energy and time too often. You have got to leave some of your time and energy for YOU! Begin practicing saying ‘no’ and watch how much more empowered you instantly feel.)
Hang around people who make you feel good (When we are comfortable with the people we are with, it is easier to feel good about ourselves. When others appreciate and enjoy your company, you will be hard-pressed to tell them they’re wrong about you! Realize that they are with you as a choice.)
Get rid of toxic people from your life (We all have people in our lives who are not kind. The thing to understand is that those people are insecure and angry about something in their own lives...and it’s NOT about you. Don’t internalize something someone says about you just because they said it. Consider the source.)
Try new things (Give yourself permission to learn and do. That's how we all grow! Tell yourself the truth - nobody is good at anything the first time they try it. That’s normal. Being ‘bad’ at something is NEVER a good reason NOT to try it.
Get a little healthier (Taking better care of yourself will automatically make you feel better, and bring more personal responsibility along with it.)
Argue with your negative self-talk (Let yourself learn and experience things without your own negative voice telling you not to. Stand up to it. Tell it you don’t agree. Ask it why it thinks you can’t do something. When a friend says something self-defeating, it’s easy to disagree and remind them why they CAN do it! Start talking to yourself like you would a friend and quiet that negative-nellie in your head forever!)
To grow your self-worth, pick something from this list and begin practicing it daily (then keep moving through the list!):
Know what self-worth is NOT (Self-worth has nothing to do with your bank account, the clothes you wear, the school you attended, the car you drive or the job you have. NOTHING! The things that determine your self-worth are things you ARE: how you treat other people, are you respectful, are you respected, do you have compassion, are you empathetic, are you kind, are you proud, etc.)
Practice self-acceptance (You are YOU - that is your superpower! Seek to understand yourself better, and then own it. You will become who you believe you are, and the easiest thing to be is yourself.)
Keep your feedback outward, not inward (In other words, when you make observations about your actions, instead of yourself, the words you use change. For example, if you say, “I am an anxious person,” you are putting a label on YOU. But if you say, “Sometimes, I feel or act in an anxious way,” you are talking about your actions - and you can choose to make changes with those. If you internalize (and blame yourself) too often, those labels will make you think (incorrectly) that you are ALWAYS that person.)
Give yourself permission to not have to please everyone (This is a biggie for a lot of people. You do not have to be all things to all people. As a matter of fact, if you do not start practicing some self-love and focus on being the best YOU that you can be, you will not be able to serve others as well as you might like to. You can make your own choices and decisions intentionally...and those choices and decisions can be for YOU, not for other people.)
Have a mantra or affirmation that you say to yourself daily (Simply having a few words or a quote or saying that you can repeat to yourself at any time can put you in a space to stand up for yourself. It is personal to you and it resonates with you. It can be something as simple as, “You are worth it,” or something a little more involved, such as, “Nobody can make me feel bad without my permission. I am the one who makes that decision.”)
Choosing a few of these tactics and putting them into play in your daily life will help you to strengthen your sense of self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth...beginning right now!