Self-esteem vs self-belief
Believe it or not, cultivating a "positive mental attitude" could be bad for your confidence
Do you know the difference between self-belief and self-esteem? The answer, as I discovered on a Be You Empowerment Day (find out more about that here), is authenticity.
Think about it this way. Self-belief says, “You can do anything!” It’s a blanket approach, all about positive mental attitude and mind over matter. Which sounds great in principle, but it’s likely to knock your confidence if you’re not careful.
Just look at those poor folk on X-factor who can’t sing. They really seem shocked when Simon Cowell presses his buzzer and gives them a dose of reality. And their families are always outraged too, determined that the amount of passion or effort their son / cousin / aunt has put into their number is somehow enough to guarantee a chart topping hit.
The sad reality is that not everyone has the voice to make it as a singer, no matter how much they believe in themselves. And unless they understand that, the expectation gap is going to make them very unhappy.
Wouldn’t it be so much better if they understood what their genuine strengths were and pursued goals that had a decent chance of being attained? Adding authenticity to self-belief makes it less pie-in-the-sky and more achievable, and therefore more likely to improve our confidence. Our self-esteem can’t be based on someone we’re trying to be - it has to be based on who we are.
That’s why self-awareness is so important; there’s no hope of us loving and accepting ourselves if we don’t know who we are in the first place. And that, in turn, is why I’m so pleased to be a Psychologies Empowerment Champion, working on the Be You campaign with Packtypes. Using Packtypes is a fun, simple and effective way of gaining insight into how you operate in various roles, such as at work or in relationships, and it opens up all sorts of interesting conversations once you start using them with other people.
Incidentally, if it sounds like I’m against people having big dreams, I’m not. Self-awareness isn’t limiting; it’s not about ditching your quest for greatness and sticking within your comfort zone. Quite the opposite, in fact - self-esteem is empowering. Because when you know what you’re working with, you can play to your strengths and succeed in the areas you were meant to succeed, probably far beyond your wildest ambitions.
And, as your confidence grows, you can begin to challenge yourself to take small steps to improve in those areas where you’re less strong - not in order to be the best, but to be the best version of yourself.
Where self-belief says, “I can be anything and anyone I want to be”, self-esteem says, “This is who I am, and I’m ok with that.” I know which one feels more attractive to me.