High self-confidence can come from low self-esteem!

High self-confidence can come from low self-esteem!

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Sometimes low self-esteem can result in high self-confidence. Ligia Koijen Ramos and Peter Koijen from In2Motivation, an Amsterdam-based personal and professional development company, explain why this is.

A lot has already been said about self-confidence, not only about how it can help in very practical daily life but also the many things that can help each one of us to develop higher self-confidence.

What is the difference between self-confidence and self-esteem?

The difference between these two concepts is that self-confidence is about what you do and self-esteem is more about who you are. Self-confidence can be about what you are good at doing, at work or at home. Self-esteem is the value you give to yourself, your identity, who you are.

Being self-confident comes from the belief that things can be done, that the capacity and ability to do it is present. It is also always related to performance.

We have no doubt that, most of the time, being self-confident is the belief that creates real possibility to achieve different results (we are being very self-confident now!). It is the possibility of leaving your comfort zone to create new, optimum results for individuals and teams.

Starting a task with “I can do it” brings a totally different energy and mind-set to the task and probably a totally different result as well.

Is self-confidence enough?

The question is though, is self-confidence enough? In other words, can you leave self-esteem out of the equation for success? You can, but it will probably have big consequences in the long term!

Self-esteem is, contrary to self-confidence, belief in yourself. It is the belief that you are enough already and that you are the best of you in every moment. This supports the idea that even if you don't do anything right, you will still love yourself just the way you are.

Maintaining a high self-esteem requires work

In a society that is based on performance, maintaining a high self-esteem requires work. From a very young age, children are incentivised to perform. The simple two-word sentence “well done” makes children addicted to performance, as this provides them with attention and love from adults. This is because, more often than not, they only receive admiration and attention from parents, teachers, family, etc. when they do something well.

And this performance story never ends. After school comes university, work, relationships... everything seems like a game of “Can I do it better?” or “Am I doing enough?” Of course, you can always do it better. Human beings are able to improve their skills very quickly. The question is: Will you ever be satisfied with yourself?

The self-confidence mask 

The behaviour of being self-confident can be a mask for a low self-esteem. Not always of course, but in our experience as coaches, an exaggerated self-confidence is sometimes the perfect mask not to deal with the fear of not being enough, or not having the skills to do something.

A good level of self-esteem can be recognised in someone that can deal with failure, accepts losing things and games, accepts their own limitations and points of development, and has strong self-awareness. Such a person does not put their existence and value in the things that they do or have achieved. High self-esteem is the ability to love and respect yourself as a full human being. It is the possibility of being seen just as you are.

Simple changes

If your child is trying the big slide in the park for the first time and is screaming: “Dad, Mum, look!” you just need to scream back “I SEE YOU!” rather than “well done”. This is a simple change that you can do so that your child works on his / her self-esteem rather their self-confidence. You exist no matter what. You are seen, and valued, just as you are, and not for what you do.

It is the responsibility of each one of us to develop our self-esteem by looking more inside of ourselves. Examining more about who we are, and less about what we are doing. It is also our responsibility to provide our children with a safe environment to allow their self-esteem to grow and to be there for them when they need it most!

Self-esteem makes you resilient 

Self-esteem will make you more resilient than self-confidence. Because when the job ends, the skills are not needed anymore, or what you do does not matter, so all that is left is who you are. And that is already great. But for some people it is the beginning of the end. And you want the end to be the beginning of something new.

Co-authors Peter Koijen and Ligia Koijen Ramos are life coaches and motivational speakers at In2Motivation, offering personal and professional training courses to optimise individual and group motivation and performance.

Peter Koijen


Peter Koijen

owner of in2motivation

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Christopher H. ... 12:02 | 22 May 2018

I love this! It resonates so well and in this day and age, self-confidence can easily come across as arrogance if not backed up with a solid character based in knowing who you are and what you stand for -- "Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world." ~ Lucille Ball