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Ask a Therapist: What's the difference between confidence & self-esteem?

Personal Growth, Ask a Therapist, Body Image
4 min read

Dear Therapist: What’s the difference between confidence and self-esteem? Does being confident make you narcissistic?

Frame Therapist Jessica Jefferson weighs in...

Confidence can be curated, so if you do not feel confident, or if you notice that you struggle with self-esteem, do not worry, you can begin to cultivate it for yourself. The first thing you do is define what it means for YOU to be confident, it can be as small as celebrating your new NSV (non-scale victory) in your weight loss journey or as deep as being confident in securing your spot at any table you decide to sit at. 

Confidence will get you through the door, self-esteem will keep you in the room.

If we go back to the weight loss anecdote, self-esteem will let you try on a new style of clothes in your new body and if we go back to work, it will be the thing that causes you to speak your mind and your value when you don’t feel like taking up space. 

Let’s define both, confidence and self-esteem as Miriam Webster would, and then let’s define it for the purposes of practicality and the ability to implement change, in both thoughts and behaviors.

AAT Confidence Self-esteem chart

Does being confident come off as being too prideful or conceited?

I think often, especially for women, we can be afraid to "toot our own horn," so to speak. Sometimes we fear that people may think we're too narcissistic or self-centered if we talk too much about our accomplishments and how happy we are with ourselves.

Confidence and conceitedness are often interchanged when we as women want to think about the ability we have to take up space, and the right we have to do so, we can attribute shame and guilt to wanting to receive a just recompense for a job well done. One way to combat this “narrative- or story we tell ourselves is to identify the source, is this someone else assigning meaning to what you have said that you did not assign to you.


About the Author: Jessica F.B. Jefferson, LCSW, is a therapist and the Founder & CEO of Soul Wellness, Social Support, & Therapeutic Services. Jessica is a wife, mother, entrepreneur, ministry worker, transformative speaker, and global wellness advocate. She leverages her multifaceted experience to empower others to live and lead well in every facet of life. To learn more, view additional content Jessica has created, or to get in touch, visit her Frame profile here

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