The difference between self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image - Psychological work

Good self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image are important for your mental health, but it is not always as easy to know what the different terms refer to and what is the difference between the three. Therefore, we will give an explanation of the difference between self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image. 

The concepts are related to each other, but in order to be able to say something about differences, we will first define the three separately. 

Infographics on the difference between self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image

What is self-confidence? 

Self-confidence is about, the belief you have in your abilities, how you assess your ability to master various tasks in life. Self-confidence is not necessarily affected by objective goals of mastery and other people's perceptions, it is your assessment of it all that decides. Self-esteem can be high in some areas and low in others. 

Those with high self-esteem trust themselves to a great extent. They believe that they have good conditions to be able to perform well. However, it is quite possible to have low self-esteem and poor self-esteem, even if in isolation you can have high self-esteem in some areas. 

Those with low self-esteemt, on the other hand, is easier to feel unsure and doubt their own ability to perform well. For example, you may think you are not good enough to perform a task, whether it is at work, school or other parts of life. 

Having low self-esteem can actually be healthy! It is rational to have low self-esteem in areas where you actually have little chance of performing. Otherwise you can end up in difficult situations! It is not a goal to have high self-esteem in itself. The goal must be to have a realistic self-confidence. 

Our general self-esteem can often also color our self-confidence and our ability to actually look realistically at ourselves. It brings us to look more closely at this with self-esteem. 

What is self-esteem? 

Unlike self-esteem, however, self-esteem is not about how you perform, it is about acceptance of who you are, despite performance and mistakes. Although this is also to some extent situational, it is relatively more stable in size. Self-esteem is affected by relationships with others, and is especially shaped through the human encounters in the first part of life. 

Below you can see a video that defines self-esteem: 

Our self-esteem is largely based on how caregivers and peers throughout our upbringing reflect us. The child understands himself through the other person's eyes. It believes that the other person's reaction says something about oneself. This is not always true. 

How does self-esteem develop? 

Most often, other people's reactions to ourselves say more about the other than ourselves. Especially if the other person carries luggage and radiates unclean energies. Then others can act almost like a funfair mirror. They create the impression that there is something wrong with you, but in reality the discrepancy lies in the curvature of the mirror itself. 

A natural consequence of not being seen, but misunderstood and mirrored as something else and often worse than you are, is that you end up not being the best version of yourself. This is something you in turn can hold against yourself, which further fires up under low self-esteem. 

Our experience is that poor self-esteem always develops on a false basis. In that one understands oneself, one's own history and that of the ancestors more precisely, the illusion is broken that there was ever something wrong with you. 

Self-esteem is largely laid down as a child, although later important life events and relationships can lead to a correction - especially for the better. Once you have acquired a basic sense of worth and unconditional love from childhood, it takes a lot to change this. 

One feels oneself to the greatest extent in relation to others. As a child, you need your own feelings to be met with acceptance by the closest people around you. How the culture we are born into receives our nature, is of crucial importance for the development of self-esteem. 

Good self-esteem 

Good self-esteem is about a basic sense of value. It is about trusting that there is nothing wrong with your feelings and needs and that you are as valuable and important as others. Those with good self-esteem stand up for themselves, despite the opinions of others and manage to say no and stand their ground. It's about enduring mistakes and enduring uncertainty. People with good self-esteem feel more at home in the world, that they have a natural place and that they do not have to defend themselves or explain why they are here. 

Symptoms of low self-esteem 

Those with low self esteem often feels less valuable in meeting others and often holds back or avoids expressing their own opinions, among other things due to fear of being criticized or rejected. Why is a human being afraid of it? Of course because it has happened before, because it was terribly painful and because you want to protect yourself from being "retraumatized". This is obvious to some of those with poor self-esteem, but completely unconscious in others. 

Some more symptoms of low self-esteem are: 

  • You value yourself low 
  • You are very critical of yourself 
  • You are afraid of being rejected 
  • You have difficulty coping with criticism and adversity 

Poor self-esteem is a real poison in life. Fortunately, you can have a lot of good content in spite of life, but there is a shadow that is always there. One of our foremost privileges is to help people return to the good self-esteem that is our birthright. 

What is self-image? 

Self-image consists of three things: 

  1. How you perceive yourself 
  2. How you think others perceive you 
  3. How you yourself want to be 

Good self-image is about harmony between these three and is the general perception and opinions you have about yourself. If the distance between how you want to be yourself is not in line with how you or others perceive you to be, it will go negatively beyond self-image. 

Relationship between self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image 

Although self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image are terms that are often used interchangeably, and are related, as explained above, there are still differences between the three. It can be especially difficult to distinguish between self-esteem and self-image, these overlap to a great extent, while self-confidence is easier to distinguish as it is more about what one does and can do, rather than who one is and should be. 

It all starts with how other people meet the child who has come into the world with his innocent and perfect nature. Most people will agree that there is nothing wrong with a single infant. 

A basic trust or distrust of oneself, others and the world is developed based on the experiences in the very first years of life. The foundation for our self-esteem is laid. 

So one could ask the question, exactly at what age is it that we should start pointing at the child, judging it and saying that there is something wrong there? 

Unfortunately, humans tend to develop cultures that oppress parts of our nature. This is so deep inside us that we have forgotten how absurd it is that so many of us in our culture today walk around and actually think that something is wrong with us. 

Of course, the child does things that can hurt others. These are things that we like to use various forms of punishment to stop. Shame on the child, guilt induction and withdrawal of love are especially used. 

As long as these continue to be culturally accepted practices, we will nurture people with fragile and conditioned self-esteem. 

Self-image, self-esteem, self-confidence and culture  

Even in the USA, people have now begun to ease the level of punishment for young people as they gradually begin to accept that their brains are far from fully developed and that characteristics such as impulse control and the overcoming of consequences are particularly damaging. 

It is easy to sit in Norway and laugh at the American conditions, where children are sentenced as adults - to life in prison. The truth is that we constantly judge children as adults. And if the actual penal care here at home is much kinder, we still send our children to internal prisons, where they both have to suppress certain aspects of themselves and feel bad about having them at all. 

Such processes are perhaps the most important for why we basically develop difficulties with self-esteem. And if we first have difficulties here, we are vulnerable to problems with both an unrealistic self-esteem and a poor self-image. 

The bad self-image is often reinforced by how the culture, creates unrealistic expectations of who we should be and who others are and how others' lives are. 

When we have to suppress natural parts of ourselves, we will instead develop symptoms. 

How to get better self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image 

As mentioned, self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image are something that can be changed. The change happens when the illusion that there was a problem with you in the first place breaks. This is difficult to achieve on your own, and in this way therapy with a psychologist can be helpful. 

Self-esteem can also be seen as a practice. Everything you can do to step out of the comfort zone, out of the perception of the mind, and actually go out into the world and do things, say things and experience things, can help to develop both self-esteem, self-confidence and self-image. Taking chances in relationships with others is especially important. Try something new. Do something that is not typical of you. You really have nothing to lose. . By 

As psychologists, we want to help ensure that limitations in self-esteem no longer prevent you from seizing opportunities, enjoying everyday life and entering life with everything you are.

Wanting to work with your own self-esteem, or your own self-image, is a good project. It is a good thing for yourself, those around you who appreciate you and potentially for future generations.

Help with a psychologist 

When you seek psychological help for poor self-image from us, we begin by mapping which specific mechanisms have initially created, and then maintain, your ailments. Then we know more about what is needed for the best treatment of low self-esteem in your particular case, and how we can set up a therapy.

Most often you know a little about why this has happened, but as a rule you also find several mechanisms that have been completely or partially unconscious. The awareness itself is often helpful in itself. Aspects of the self-image can be changed already within a few hours. Other aspects may require longer and deeper work.

Treatment of low self-esteem 

There are a number of recommended methods for treatment of low self-esteem. For example, ISTDP, cognitive schema therapy or psychodynamic therapy. None of the methods help equally well for everyone, always. The crucial thing for a successful treatment of low self-esteem is that we work in a way that makes sense to you.

Our professional assessments will form a starting point, and then together we will evaluate the ongoing progress as well as any need for potential adjustments.

Does treatment help? 

Treatment of poor self-esteem is often not a quick-fix. But always possible. It is also not the number of hours, but how precisely and constructively we manage to work together that is crucial. Improvement can be achieved in a few hours. Most of all, we want to assist you in overcoming all oppressive and life-limiting inner forces.

This may take longer but can be worth working towards. Life can be challenging enough without having to struggle with low self-esteem in addition.

Everyone deserves freedom, joy, love and good health. We are a dedicated team who bring the best of psychological expertise in our work with our clients. 

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