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 Are you confident? Is your daughter?

by on Oct. 7, 2012 at 4:10 PM
Replies (11-11):
Today at 8:42 AM
by on Oct. 11, 2012 at 10:44 AM

I define self-esteem this way. I have yet to come across a better definition. It's Nathaniel Branden's definition [bold, my emphasis]:

Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and of being worthy of happiness. It is confidence in the efficacy of our mind, in our ability to think. By extension, it is confidence in our ability to learn, make appropriate choices and decisions, and respond effectively to change. It is also the experience that success, achievement, fulfillment – happiness – are right and natural for us. The survival-value of such confidence is obvious; so is the danger when it is missing.

So confidence is part of it. But the bigger part, I'd argue, is that you accept, axiomatically, that you are worthy of happiness. Period. You can't have self-esteem until you acknowledge that axiomatic principle.

For self-confidence, I think we have to differentiate between that and confidence. Like you sort of do below. They're very different. Confidence varies per set of stimuli, so, like you said, physical endurance, no, I'm not as "confident" about that as I am about, oh, debating. Like I'm more "confident" playing the piano than I am the guitar. That's because it's a skills-based stimulus and I'm honest. I know, I can assess, that I play the piano better than the guitar.That kinda thing. And that doesn't mean I shouldn't try to learn how to play the guitar if I want to.

But self-confidence is the acknowledgement that we can and should try things and not feel like a personal failure if/when we fail. Same thing if we're awesome at something. Self-confidence is veridical to separating our failures and accomplishments from our self-worth. I think it's more of a barrier in that respect. We can go ahead and try something, screw up, and not feel as though we are screwed up. We can try something, be awesome at it, and not feel we are awesome. Make sense?

But that is so closely tied to self-esteem, so I totally get what you're saying. There's a lot of overlap. I have seen both used as synonyms, even by Ayn Rand herself (whose protégé was Branden):

Self-esteem is reliance on one’s power to think. It cannot be replaced by one’s power to deceive. The self-confidence of a scientist and the self-confidence of a con man are not interchangeable states, and do not come from the same psychological universe. The success of a man who deals with reality augments his self-confidence. The success of a con man augments his panic.

Quoting SweetLuci:

 I think many people use the two terms interchangeably, but my understanding of the terms if that self-esteem refers to how you feel about yourself overall; how much esteem, positive regard or self-love you have. Self-esteem develops from experiences and situations that have shaped how you view yourself today. Self-confidence is how you feel about your abilities and can vary from situation to situation. I may have healthy self-esteem, but low confidence about situations involving  physical endurance.

Quoting SlightlyPerfect:

Yes, we both are.

But confidence is skills-based, is honesty-driven, and varies, so (for me; DD is only 3) while my level of confidence changes based on my assessment of any present stimuli, the confidence I have in myself and ability to reason and think is steady and stable. But I think one could make the argument for that actually being self-esteem and not confidence.



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