As humans, we use the world around us as a compass to direct ourselves. There are many different levels at which we look to those around us and the environment to make our decisions while also balancing the internal thoughts, emotions, and urges we have. Two key players in our journey are self-esteem & self-confidence. There is a difference between these, and their difference helps us understand how we see ourselves and how the world sees us.
Self-confidence is how we look to the outside world and what we present to others. This can include our tone of voice, the way we carry ourselves, and what we say. Self-esteem is the internal aspect; how do we appear inside? Do you love yourself? My self-esteem includes how I talk to myself and think about myself, which can translate into how I act outwardly, but it starts as internal.
Something that helps us understand our self-esteem is to look at our self-worth and our values. What is important to me? In an earlier post, I wrote about prioritizing yourself, this can be something we decide to do if we realize we want to work on our self-esteem but can also increase our self-confidence if we are giving ourselves time to improve on something. It can also be something we use as maintenance to make sure we keep our self-esteem where we want it and where it feels comfortable.
When looking at self-confidence, we sometimes hear people say the phrase, “fake it til you make it.” This can mean different things to different people, depending on how they are feeling and what they want out of the phrase. For some, it means to pretend and put out self-confidence for the sake of others seeing it and appearing a certain way, so we can hide our lack of self-esteem. For others, it means to try to act like we have self-confidence so we can then build self-esteem. Whatever it means for you, in whatever context you are in, providing yourself space to assess where you are at is really important. We must reflect in order to see where our internal and external selves are so that we can make a change!
So, what do we do with this information? We look for balance in our internal and external selves. We want to be authentic and find homeostasis in our inner and outer selves. This gives us the opportunity to be who we are and to not feel “fake” or like we can’t be our true selves. Now, sometimes the environment dictates how we act, even though our self-esteem may stay constant. I’m not saying you are fake if you adjust depending on the situation or environment, I just want you to be aware of where you are at and how it impacts you. Reflection is key!
So working daily to build our self-esteem can lead us to feeling and thinking more positively of ourselves. I can work every day to appear perfect at something but if I do not have the self-esteem alongside it, the fulfillment will not follow. Positive self-talk and mantras are reminders of the things we want to feel about ourselves as well as the things we already know about ourselves. “I am a competent therapist who helps those I see as clients.” I am not trying to convince myself of this, I am reminding myself of it because I have self-esteem surrounding this phrase. I believe it and feel it within myself, whether someone else sees it or not, though hopefully, my clients would agree, of course.