Self-esteem and self-confidence overlap, but they are different.
Self-esteem refers to whether you appreciate and value yourself. Your self-esteem develops and changes as a result of your life experiences and interactions with other people.
Self-confidence is your belief in yourself and your abilities. This can change depending on the situation. It’s normal to feel quite confident in some circumstances and less confident in others.
A healthy amount of self-esteem is necessary to have the self-confidence to meet life’s challenges and participate in things you find enjoyable and rewarding.
How low self-esteem or self-confidence can affect you
Many people experience low self-esteem or low self-confidence. Some are only affected in particular situations, but for others it can be restricting or debilitating.
If you have low self-esteem or low self-confidence, you may find that individual negative or disappointing experiences affect how you feel about yourself. This can cause a self-perpetuating cycle of negative thinking where negative expectations for the future discourage you from trying. This leads to disappointing outcomes.
For example, if you’re lacking self-confidence and receive a low mark for an assignment, you may think, “What else could I expect? I’m stupid. This proves it, and I might as well leave.”
If you have healthy self-esteem and receive a low mark, you may think, “I wonder where I went wrong? I’ll find out so that I can do better next time.” Although you may feel disappointed by the low mark, you don’t feel diminished as a person.