The Difference Between Self Confidence and Self Esteem | ADDA


by Tali Weissberger, based on the The ADHD Guide: Unshakable Self Confidence & Self Esteem – with Dr. Miriam Reiss

What’s the difference between self-confidence and self-esteem? Self-confidence is how confident you are in your ability or skills. Self-esteem relates to how you feel about yourself. It is possible to have self-confidence and at the same time, have low self-esteem. There is a huge difference between the two.


Self-confidence is how you project yourself to other people. An expert golfer may feel very confident in their ability to play golf. Golf is a skill they have acquired through practice. You can build confidence through a skill set. You can develop confidence further through practice and accomplishments others see. Confidence is something you feel inside. Something other people notice in you.


But even if you have confidence in your skills, you may not feel self-confident. People might tell you how well you are performing, while you still lack confidence in your skills. Confidence shows up as skills, developed and demonstrated to the world. Self-esteem is how you see yourself on the inside, and is invisible to the outside world. When people think they see self-esteem in another, they are actually seeing self-confidence. Self-esteem is on the inside. It doesn’t come from skills. Self-esteem results from who you are.

Where You Get Self-Esteem

Loving and affectionate parents support and praise children. Parents build up their child’s sense that the world is a good place. The child becomes an adult with people around them who support and love them. Their self-esteem comes from their interaction with their families and their environment. Children who do not experience this will lack the sense of inner value and worthiness.

As children grow up, and experience hurt and pain, their self-esteem decreases. They lose self-worth and fundamental feelings of worthiness. Recipients of much criticism, people with ADHD have difficulty sustaining self-confidence and self-esteem. You can build self-confidence with practice, training and by learning a skill set. You maintain self-esteem through a more elusive sense of being.

Build Your Self-Esteem

Furthermore, self-esteem often appears, disappears and reappears – it is not permanent. Self-esteem results from a sense of self-worth. If your self-esteem depends on others saying you are worthy, anytime you hear negative feedback, your self-esteem will disappear. You must engage in introspection. Think about your skills, what you have developed, and what you feel good about.

You must learn to support yourself. You must tell yourself what you need to hear. You must learn to build yourself and your self-esteem up, the same way others knock it down. Some people will say you are ‘no good.’ Often, your own thoughts will tell you the same thing. When others knock down your self-esteem you must learn to combat these feelings. You must always tell yourself how good they are, how precious and deserving you are.


ADDA Webinars are available at no charge for all ADDA members. This library of hundreds of recorded Webinars features leading experts in adult ADHD. This article is based on an excerpt from the Webinar, The ADHD Guide: Unshakable Self Confidence & Self Esteem – with Dr. Miriam Reiss. If you are not an ADDA member, join today.

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