Picture this scene: you have just finished preparing your presentation for the next work meeting - you are on schedule and are sure of having checked off every point you want to touch upon. Yet as soon as you imagine having to present your work in front of your colleagues, doubts start to arise and you begin questioning whether you should have made such bold statements or whether the order of the arguments is just the right one. Or imagine this other scene: you are applying for a new job and you know you are overqualified for the offer that is made. You want to speak up and let them know that in your previous job you had a higher paycheck, or maybe that the salary you’re set on is higher than what they’re offering. Yet what stops you in your tracks is the doubts that emerge: what if I’m not really that good? What if I do ask for a raise and then don’t live up to their expectations? These two scenes share something that stops you from reaching wellbeing and success: your lack of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Have you ever felt as though you are not enough? Have you ever felt the odd one out in the room? Have you ever been afraid of speaking up and letting your true value be known? Well, we’ve all heard of self-confidence and self-esteem, yet we seldom do take the time to work actively on them. But what do they mean? And how are they different? These two concepts are often (wrongly) used interchangeably. However, self-esteem refers to how you feel about yourself overall. Self-confidence on the other hand refers to how ready you feel to face a certain task - it is more focused. Self-esteem, therefore, encompasses your entire person, while self-confidence is specific, it refers to how you feel about yourself in a certain aspect of life. To better understand why they are both key for your well-being - and your success - let’s dive deeper into their meaning.
Self-esteem: the right mix of self-efficacy and self-respect
We can imagine self-esteem to be composed of two ingredients:
- Self-efficacy → this is how much we feel we are able to cope with the basic challenges of life
- Self-respect → this is how much we feel we have a right to be happy, to affirm our needs and wants, to enjoy the fruits of our efforts
Therefore self-efficacy is more linked to the domain of “Doing” while self-respect is more connected to the domain of “Being”. We need both to be in balance in order to build our self-esteem.
While the construct of self-efficacy is more strongly liked to self-confidence (if I feel I am efficient in a specific task, I am probably more confident of being able to deliver), self-respect is something that requires a deeper kind of work to be initiated.
Building your success: open up to self-esteem and work on your self-confidence
Self-confidence stems from consistency and experience - the more resources and positive experiences we collect, the more confident we will be of being able to face similar situations in the future. But self-confidence is not a prerequisite for chasing our dreams - self-esteem is. Often, when we don’t have much self-esteem, we don’t even feel worthy of having a dream, let alone pursue it!
You can be very self-confident in your capabilities, yet walk around feeling like a total impostor, always fearful of “getting caught”. Living with low self-esteem means living in threat mode. Constantly. And that has a myriad of negative repercussions on our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. But there is something we can do about it; there are ways to build our self-esteem - or as I prefer to think, to open up to it. Often, in fact, it is not that we are born without a sense of self-value; rather, experiences in our life lead us to believe that value does not exist or is very small. Increasing our self-esteem will therefore need to pass through self-reassurance while facing our fears and re-programming our inner dialogue.
It is clear that this is not an easy path, it is something you have to build with time and effort. If you feel like you are lacking any of those, you can start working on that right now. If you are a member, you can join our free workshop on self-confidence (live in Milan, online from whenever you want) to start your journey toward being the best version of yourself. You can see all the details here.
Beatrice Baldi is a certified Yoga teacher, with a degree in psychology and a Level I trainer in Compassion Focused Therapy. Certified in Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness, she leads groups and individual sessions aimed at promoting one's mental and physical well-being. Beatrice also teaches other forms of mindful movement and is passionate about integrating body disciplines, Eastern philosophies, Western psychology and neuroscience.