Self Esteem and Confidence

"The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one."


Again, a bit like the word energy, we use self-esteem perhaps without thinking carefully about exactly what it is. This page provides some background information and a process to help anyone wishing to explore their own self-esteem and confidence with greater depth. So, to begin, a few simple definitions.

Self-esteem will be determined by your self-perception which means:

  • how you perceive and understand yourself with your own thoughts and feelings;

  • how you perceive your ability to develop, grow and achieve in ways that are meaningful and important to you.

BUT also....

Self-esteem is shaped, not only by your own perceptions and expectations, but also by the perceptions and expectations of those people who matter to you. The closer your perceived self (how you see yourself) comes to your ideal self (how you would like to be which may be complicated by what others want you to be), the higher your self-esteem is likely to be.

Self-confidence is not necessarily the same as self- esteem. It may be a component of self-esteem or a consequence of improving self-esteem. Self-confidence may be defined as having confidence that you can successfully accomplish what you set out to do or the confidence to accept a challenge without fear of the consequences of failing. Furthermore, you can have high confidence in some abilities while having low confidence in others e.g. you may feel confident as a parent but lack confidence at work; or you feel confident in your work role but lack confidence when it comes to being a partner or parent.

Your level of self-confidence often affects how successfully you accomplish your work targets and wider work/life balance. A person who is confident in standing in front of groups and delivering presentations is more likely to present well than a person who lacks such confidence. They may not be as technically proficient but their confidence wins through i.e self-confidence will certainly play a large part in affecting your success in life


People can have high self-esteem but not necessarily confident. Someone who isn't as socially confident or extravert as their friends may still have positive self-esteem but may feel low in confidence in groups. In contrast, bullies usually have low self-esteem but are very confident in social situations and seek to exploit (exert power over) those who are not. They too will determine their own outcomes - successful or otherwise.

Self-esteem has wider consequences than self-confidence. It impacts upon:

  • your relationships with other people in and out of work - your sense of social connectedness or isolation

  • what kind of people and opportunities/problems you attract into your life

  • your mental, emotional and physical health,

So....self-esteem impacts on all aspects of our lives. Negative self-esteem could lead to attracting external sources of stress, that when combined with negative thought patterns (internal sources of stress) can create a deterioration in physical health. Making changes to your life may, therefore, require changes or improvements to your self-esteem


1 A sense of belonging.
We need to feel accepted and loved by:

  • our family and then

  • friends (schoolmates)

  • work colleagues

  • other communities such as religious groups, sports teams, the local pub etc. Without such acceptance or group identity, we can feel isolated, rejected, lonely, and lost without a "home," "family" or "group." This is unfortunately very common with older people who have lost their partner (particularly elderly men) and can be common place during teenage years.

2 A sense of family or group self-esteem.
A child's self-esteem grows initially from within the family and consequently is considerably influenced by the perceptions that a family has of itself. Families cope more successfully and are happier groups when members focus on each other's strengths, avoid negative criticism and support one another in the face of adversity. Self-esteem grows when family members believe in and trust each other, respect their uniqueness and demonstrate sincere affection to one another. This is helped by making time for the family: taking holidays together, celebrating birthdays and having fun. The same holds good for any type of family situation and in particular the workplace. How else would self-esteem grow?

3 A supportive culture of accepting mistakes and failure.
We all need to feel ok, not crushed, when making mistakes. We need to understand (and really understand) that mistakes and failure are a normal part of living and learning and that in fact often offer the most powerful source of learning and positive change. Parents and managers allow your supportive, constructive feedback and your recognition of effort overpower any sense of failure, guilt, or shame. It is critical to renew motivation and hope. Create a new vision for that person who looks crushed and offer specific and positive words of encouragement that coach rather than commentate.

Just because you make mistakes doesn't mean you are one.

4 A sense of security.
To enjoy high self-esteem it is helpful to have a positive perception about yourself and your future. The easiest way of achieving this is to have a plan to improve yourself every day, week or month.

This means:

  • being more resourceful

  • not worrying about making mistakes

  • stepping out of your comfort zone

"We can create the ultimate job security by becoming less dependent on the organisation for which we work and more dependent on our own resources."

5 A sense of purpose and connection.
It is difficult to enjoy self-esteem without a perception of your ability to achieve in the way that matters to you. This often arises from having a sense of purpose or connection to a purpose that helps direct and channel your energy toward achievement and self-expression. Without such purpose you may feel bored, restless, unfocussed and possibly resentful at being pushed in certain directions by your own procrastination or other people's purposes.

6 A confidence to make choices and decisions.

Parents and managers can help by empowering members of the family or team to make (or influence) decisions that are considered important. If this empowerment is done carefully and appropriately and combined with a culture of accepting mistakes as a learning process then it is a wonderful combination for developing self-esteem.

Failure is simply an opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.

7 Developing and maintaining a sense of contribution.
Self-esteem is nurtured by opportunities to contribute in a meaningful way to a team-based activity or a family activity.
When we contribute in this way we feel a sense of mattering to others - we know that we count.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

8 Develop a sense of responsibility: of getting things done (self-efficacy).
If we are not able to show what we can do, what we are capable of then it is very difficult to develop self-esteem. Allow team and family members to have responsibilities that stretch them and to allow them to get on with jobs without being checked on all the time. Through faith in them they can develop their confidence in that particular ability as well as improving their self-esteem.

"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field." ~Niels Bohr

9 A culture of recognition, encouragement and reward.
We all enjoy and need positive feedback and recognition providing it is sincere and well-timed when real achievement is fresh. Praise the achievement, effort, hitting goals, remaining determined, any type of change. Encourage and praise, not only for achieving a set goal but also for efforts, and for even small increments of change and improvement.If this is thin on the ground from others then keep a log yourself - because you will forget and your self-esteem will be eroded by your own tendency to reflect and remember on what goes wrong.

Making a different mistake every day is not only acceptable, it is the definition of progress.

10 A sense of personal competence and pride.
We need to feel confident in our abilities to meet life's challenges: both expected and unexpected. Following the path outlined above will help instil a sense of personal power which evolves from successful life experiences in contributing, influencing, making decisions and solving problems both independently and within a team. Being recognised for this as outlined in 9 above further creates that foundation of self-esteem. If this has not happened then finding a mentor may be of considerable help. It is equally important not to:

  • set unrealistic expectations and goals

  • be too controlling (never delegating)

  • being too overprotecting

11 Self-awareness, self-discipline and self-control.
Along the way with all the positive development outlined above is a need for a self-discipline and self- control that tends to be found in people that are highly self-aware. Developing your self-discipline and self-control, saying no at the right time for the right reason, not trying to please everyone or the wrong people will all help your self-esteem

12 A sense of trust.
You need to feel trust in yourself and those closest to you. You should:

  • be supportive

  • keep promises

  • demonstrate your faith in those closest to you

  • forgive yourself and others

"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much." Oscar Wilde


What will make me more confident?

  • more training

  • more degrees

  • more experience

How much more? Or is it our inner voice saying that "I'm not good enough"?
Training and experience will give you more proficiency but you could still lack confidence.

"If you think you can or think you cannot, in either case you are correct". Henry Ford

Confidence arises from a function of our beliefs. To be confident we have to believe that we are good enough, intelligent enough and able enough. Lacking confidence, probably means something is blocking or damaging your self-belief. You may have some limiting beliefs. "I lack qualifications" is a limiting belief. "I'll never be good at managing" is a limiting belief. Only believing in them will guarantee them them to be true.

Where does confidence come from? It is a choice. It is a belief from within you.



"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love." Lao Tzu

Self-esteem and confidence - a sense of perspective can help too:

"A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank...but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of.........”

© 2012 7Futures Ltd. Registered Office: Laurel Drive, 7 George Fox Lane, Fenny Drayton, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, CV13 6BE. Registered in England and Wales No. 7945762

© 2012 7Futures Ltd. Please note that, at 7Futures, our role is to help educate and encourage our clients to take positive responsibility for their wellbeing. We are not medical doctors and are not able to offer individual medical advice. We always recommend you should discuss with your GP or other medical professional before making any changes you hope will impact your wellbeing, or that of your current/future family.  7Futures Ltd offers generic information which is for educational purposes only. The information we provided is not a prescription system and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. As such our materials, videos products and communications are for general information purposes only and should not be read as a personal recommendation for specific changes in lifestyle behaviour, nutrition, or exercise. Please click here for a clear description of our services and the relationship with you as a client. You should not participate in any of our services until you have studied this is for your benefit.

Mark Davies