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We hear the words ‘self-confidence’ and ‘self-esteem’ used quite regularly in articles about improving ourselves, and often the distinction between the two is vague. Then there are other terms like ’self-worth’ and self-image’ and even ‘self-concept.’ So what is the difference between these terms? Is there a difference at all, or are they just buzzwords for exactly the same thing?
I wanted to know the answer to these questions myself so I did a little research and found some interesting definitions. Here is what I believe from what I’ve learned:
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Self-concept is just what is says - the concept of what ‘self’ is. Aside from humans, the only other creatures that possess the ability to understand the concept of self are apes, dolphins and elephants. They can look in a mirror and understand what they are looking at.
Self-image is a term for how we see ourselves. Do we see ourselves as intelligent, attractive, successful or lovable? However we depict ourselves, the word self-image is the overall term for it. It can be positive or negative.
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Self-worth is how we value ourselves as part of a bigger picture. Do we matter? Are we valuable to the world and those around us?
Self-esteem is a feeling of positive self-worth and self-image. You hold yourself in high regard. You see your good qualities and your talents.
Finally, self-confidence is the feeling you get when you have a high self-esteem because of your positive self-image and feeling of self-worth. Have I lost you yet?
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To put it in a nutshell – I look at myself in the mirror and understand that it’s me (self-concept.) I see a smart, pleasant-looking, likeable woman (positive self-image.) My job makes a difference in the lives of others, I volunteer, I have loving friends and family and I know that I matter (positive self-worth.) I like myself; I know that I’m good at my job and my writing (high self-esteem.) Knowing all these things gives me self-confidence around others and encourages me to pursue my dreams.