The Confidence Code Q&A – Confidence v. Self-esteem?

Claire Shipman
Young girl thinking with abstract icons on her head

Q: Took your test and I score a high confidence level.  Which I consider that I am, in all things work-wise because I’ve had so many experiences and worked for some high profile, full on CAH RAY ZEE people.  Plus my mom is a paranoid schizophrenic so it makes for a very interesting reflex to stress and work situations.

Where I suffer most is my confidence level in my personal life.  How does self esteem play into confidence?  I have very low self esteem, not because of my intellect, but as a whole package. From a logical standpoint I’m no chopped liver but still feel not worthy.  (Mommy issues.)

How does confidence and self-esteem cohabitate and what are their differences?

Thanks for this … very insightful.

A: What a terrific question. And wonderful news about your confidence score. That fact that you have been able to create confidence when you feel low self-esteem is terrific. Most psychologists find that they are heavily linked.  They are not at all the same thing … which you seem to recognize—but having healthy self-esteem actually does lay good groundwork for confidence creation. And sometimes vice-versa.  All of those attributes … optimism also … are supporters of each other.  But it’s quite possible to be optimistic, for example, but not confident about your abilities. Or—as is the case with many young people today—to have high self-esteem, and consider yourself valuable, and yet not feel confident about your ability to actually achieve things.

Check out our book, and the section on confidence cousins. Most especially self-compassion. That is a newcomer, and we find it quite useful as something to cultivate. It’s got a Buddhist feel to it, but there’s now a lot of research behind it’s effectiveness.

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