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 a person’s attitude about their capabilities and skills. A person with good self-confidence feels like they have control over their lives. Self-esteem is how a person perceives their own value and self-worth. A person with high self-esteem is open to different ideas and comfortable socially.
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 your 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.
Self-esteem results when you believe in your inherent goodness. This may seem to be a radical concept for people with ADHD.
The concept is that we are brought into this world, and we are made of love. Love is often described as the highest feeling there is. If you want to feel self-esteem, you must feel love and have love for yourself.
You need to take the feeling of love you have for others – such as for your spouse, a baby, for playing an instrument, or for reading – and pull that feeling inside to feel that love for yourself.
Where You Get Self-Esteem
Where does self-esteem come from?
Loving and affectionate parents support and praise children. Parents build up their child’s belief 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 a sense of inner value and worthiness.
As children grow up – and experience hurt and pain – their self-esteem decreases. They lose self-worth and their fundamental feelings of worthiness.
Self-esteem is the absolute core of a person’s identity, and the core of the level of success they will experience in the world.
Some people will say you are “no good.” And often, your own thoughts will tell you the same thing.
You must learn to combat these feelings when others knock down your self-esteem. You must always tell yourself how good you are, how precious and deserving you are.
If it seems impossible to overcome the criticism from people around you (and from your own thoughts), we invite you to listen to ADDA Webinar recordings from Dr. Miriam Reiss.
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 2015 Webinar, The ADHD Guide: Unshakable Self Confidence & Self Esteem – with Dr. Miriam Reiss. Dr. Reiss has also recently presented Self-Esteem for Anyone and Everyone with ADHD™ (July 2020). If you are not an ADDA member, join today.