Confidence vs. Ego: Building True Self-Esteem

is confidence ego, relationship between confidence and ego

Since I have been making an attempt to describe confidence for my clients in a way that empowers them in accomplishing their goals, I realized that I wasn’t quite sure where the dividing line between Ego and Confidence is.

So today, I decided to research the topic. This is what I discovered.

So, Is Confidence the same as Ego? Confidence and ego are quite different. Confidence demonstrates a high level of self-belief (having faith in yourself), vulnerability, and openness; whereas, the ego primarily promotes self-interest and is self-glorifying. This is what makes ego so different from confidence.

So how do you know if you are dealing with someone who is driven by too much ego or confidence, and how do you know if you are acting out of confidence or ego? Finally, what do you do if you are stuck in a relationship (work or personal) with someone with an inflated ego?

This is where it gets a bit complex. There can be a fine line between the two, and it is hard to differentiate them without a deeper understanding of both.

When it comes to building true self-esteem and confidence, it is important to understand that this is not something that can happen overnight. It takes a long time and hard work for someone to develop confidence in themselves and their abilities.

Building true self-esteem is about understanding who you are, your values and limitations, and having a realistic view of the world around you. It requires patience and perseverance in order to achieve lasting results.

What Is Ego Exactly?

Ego is a part of our personality that exists in all human beings. It’s the voice in your head that causes you to question your decisions, compare yourself to others and generally be critical.

It can help fuel ambition and give you the drive needed to succeed, but it can also become overbearing and lead to feelings of insecurity or low self-esteem.

…most terms that include “ego” involve processes or reactions in which Ime, or mine figure prominently. Consider egoism, the motive to act in one’s self-interest. Someone who is behaving egoistically is simply pursuing his or her own goals, as we all do. A motive is egoistic when it’s focused on what “I” want.

Mark Leary, Ph.D. in

Some psychologists have argued that a healthy sense of ego is important for mental health and well-being, while others have suggested that excessive ego can lead to problems like narcissism and arrogance.

Overall, the concept of ego is complex and multifaceted, and its meaning can vary depending on the context in which it is used.

What Is Ego Good For?

While in most cases ego is something that is perceived as negative, I can think of at least one scenario where ego could be useful.

When you need to Posture.

There are times in life when you are met with obstacles so great and a scenario so significant that you may need to draw on your “fake it big” muscle. The cost of not doing so is simply too high.

Think competition. I think fighters and athletes do this.

The big ego permits you to believe in what you are doing, to make split-second decisions without self-doubt, to push the boundaries, to look over the horizon, to absolutely believe you are right.

In reality, they may not know if they can win the task or the game, but if they come off too humble, no one wants to tune in. You get my point.

Our worst fears of failure or ridicule can be kept at bay when we are able to tap into a healthy sense of ego. It gives us the confidence, strength, and courage needed to face whatever comes our way.

When we act from this place, it is not motivated by pride or arrogance but rather by an inner belief that allows us to trust our abilities and take risks to achieve our goals.

The Differences Between Being Confident And Being Egotistical

What are the telltale signs that someone is an egomaniac and not simply confident?

Egotistical people are self-seeking. They are opportunistic. They are looking for an advantage for themselves and are willing to grab the advantage even at the cost of others. Think about Gaston in the Disney princess movie with Belle.

You’ll also notice that great leaders are confident and are able to keep their egos in check. They motivate and inspire the people around them, while also crediting the team’s successes.

A strong leader understands that it takes a village to accomplish great things and never takes all the credit for him or herself.

An egotistic leader often makes decisions and takes actions that are not in the best interests of the people or organization they represent. Their primary focus is their own gain or status, not the overall well-being of their team.

If you took any psychology classes in high school or college, you may remember Ego, Super Ego, and Id from your academic studies. These are psychoanalytic terms and have nothing to do with what we are talking about here. I remember the class where I discovered the three topics above.

My takeaway was:

  • Ego – Jock
  • Super Ego – Total Jerk
  • ID – What I needed to get my school lunch.

Alright for the nerds out there (like me), just to make this complete. Here are the actual definitions of the above.

  • Ego – organized conscious mediator between the person and reality
  • Super Ego – only partly conscious, represents the internalization of parental conscience and the rules of society, and functions to reward and punish through a system of moral attitudes, conscience, and a sense of guilt
  • Id – completely unconscious and is the source of psychic energy derived from instinctual needs and drives

All right, back to the point.

The best definition I found of Ego for our discussion is (and I am paraphrasing here.): someone who is driven by recognition at the cost of others. Someone who wants to have a permanent “me” parade, unwilling to consider others in the equation who wants to dominate others to further inflate their lofty sense of self, even when it hurts others.

Their pseudo-self-confidence keeps them hidden neatly behind a curtain (think Wizard of Oz). If anyone gets too close they will go out of their way to make them look bad. It’s all about perpetuating an image of dominance.

Confidence on the other hand is a deep belief in yourself that is rooted in a willingness to accept the consequences of your actions.

So what’s the difference between confidence and ego? If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be “humility.”

What is humble confidence? Someone who is capable and willing. They have faith in their own abilities and are not interested in making a mockery of others.

Are Ego And Confidence The Same Thing?

No, ego and confidence are not the same things. While both involve how we feel about ourselves, they differ in terms of their origin and purpose.

Ego can be seen as an inflated view of oneself or bragging rights while confidence is grounded in self-assurance and understanding one’s capabilities and limitations.

Ego is often rooted in insecurity, while confidence is based on owning one’s accomplishments and abilities. Having confidence means you’re able to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses without feeling the need to prove yourself or appear “better than” another person.

Feeling confident can help motivate you when tackling difficult tasks and challenges; it gives us a sense of assurance, stability, and strength to face any situation.

Ego, on the other hand, is driven by a desire to be “better than” others and make ourselves appear more attractive or impressive than we actually are. It can lead us into trying to portray an unrealistic version of ourselves that is not grounded in reality.

Eventually, this need to appear better or superior can come back to bite us, causing us to become overly self-critical and make mistakes that can damage our relationships with those around us.

The difference between ego and confidence is that one is based on an honest assessment of ourselves and the other relies on what others think about us.

Confidence allows us to accept our strengths and weaknesses without comparing ourselves to others, while ego insists on proving our worth through “keeping up with the Joneses”.

To build true self-esteem, we need to accept and embrace who we are as individuals instead of seeking external validation.

Again, here we see the idea that ego is self-seeking to the point that can be detrimental to others. You can be confident without being an egotistical person. Here’s how.

A good way to keep the ego/confidence balance in check is to ask yourself whether you can still learn something about a particular area.

This can also be asked of someone else. If their answer is that they know it all, they have something to prove. If they have something to prove, then you know that ego is at play.

A confident person sees that they can always progress on some level.

Is Confidence Better Than Ego?

Absolutely. We may attract ego-driven people into our lives. That’s a whole different topic (wink), but at the end of the day, most of us desire to be around people that are pro-us.

Confident people are a joy to be around they’re comfortable in their own skin and can be vulnerable.

They’re also a great source of encouragement and strength, as they have an empowering attitude that lifts others up.

Confident people are more likely to be open-minded and welcoming, which makes them great listeners to bounce ideas off of or just discuss life with.

In some of the reports I read, confident people make relaxed eye contact whereas egomaniacs are always looking for the next opportunity and seldom really look at you.

Is The Ego Linked To Self-Esteem?

Yes, the ego is closely linked to self-esteem. Having a healthy sense of self is an important part of having high self-esteem.

Although the ego is actually the opposite of self-esteem, there is certainly a connection between the two. Let me explain…

The ego is a fundamental part of our identity and sense of self. It can be thought of as the voice that controls our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Self Esteem is an important part of our mental health and well-being and can be defined as the degree to which we value ourselves.

Good self-esteem helps us a lot, it is a source of good self-confidence, it helps us to be positive, it gives us courage and helps us to cope with difficult times.

A large ego can lead to an overinflated sense of self-importance and an inability to accept criticism or failure.

Conversely, a healthy ego is associated with healthy self-esteem. When we have a secure sense of identity-based on realistic appraisals of ourselves, our actions are more likely to be guided by confidence rather than fear.

Does Ego Cause Low Self-Esteem?

It’s not a slam dunk that a huge ego causes low self-esteem or even vice versa. But they certainly are tied to each other in some way.

Having a big ego is also often associated with narcissistic tendencies, a superiority complex, and being self-absorbed. In other words, if a person has a big ego, it means that they are very caught up in “me,” “mine,” and “I.

Some experts believe that an overinflated ego can lead to low self-esteem because it sets up unrealistic expectations for the individual. When these expectations are not met, feelings of inadequacy and failure may arise.

On the other hand, having low self-esteem can cause someone to try to overcompensate for their feelings of inadequacy.

They may attempt to cover up their insecurities with a huge ego, attempting to appear more successful and confident than they truly are.

What Causes Low Self-Esteem?

Low self-esteem can be caused by a variety of factors, including life experiences, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. It is important to note that some people are more vulnerable to low self-esteem than others due to their genetics or the environment they grew up in.

Life events such as illness, disability, unemployment, bullying, or traumatic experiences can play a role in developing low self-esteem. Such events may cause individuals to question their worth and feel inadequate when compared to others.

Thoughts are also a major factor in the development of low self-esteem. It is easy for people to focus on their weaknesses, compare themselves to others, or think negative thoughts about themselves. This type of thinking leads to feelings of insecurity and low self-worth.

Low self-esteem can also be caused by attitudes that are instilled from an early age. Whether it’s from parents, teachers, or peers, negative comments about one’s worth can have a long-term impact on how people think about and feel about themselves.

Finally, society’s standards for physical attractiveness and success can also contribute to low self-esteem. People may compare themselves to these ideals and feel inadequate when they don’t meet them.

What Is The Difference Between Self-Esteem And Confidence?

Self-esteem and confidence are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they actually have distinct meanings. Self-esteem is an individual’s internal evaluation of themselves and their overall worthiness as a person.

On the other hand, confidence is something more related to external factors such as performance or abilities.

Self-esteem is based on a person’s internal sense of self-worth or their opinion of themselves. It comes from years of inner dialogue and how a person views their abilities and shortcomings.

Self-esteem doesn’t necessarily have to do with external accomplishments, although it may be affected by them.

Confidence, on the other hand, relates more to a person’s faith in their abilities and performance. It is based on their external experiences and accomplishments, such as doing well in school or at work.

Confidence is more related to short-term goals than it is to long-term self-worth.

In order to have good self-esteem, you need to accept yourself and the person you are. Self-acceptance can lead to true confidence and feeling good about yourself.

While self-esteem is how you feel about yourself, confidence comes from having faith in your abilities and being able to do things well.

15 Healthy Ways To Build Self-Esteem

Our habits control our lives and our success. If you truly want to gain inner confidence, it is important to recognize the bad habits that are holding you back, raise them to the top of your priority list, and begin to intentionally and purposefully practice methods for changing. It is achievable, but it will not happen by itself.

So now that we know the ties that bind confidence, ego, and self-esteem, let’s talk about practical steps we can take to build our self-worth.

1) The first step is to practice self-acceptance

That means accepting all of your flaws and shortcomings, while also recognizing and embracing your strengths. This can be done through self-reflection or journaling.

Taking the time to sit with yourself and really get in tune with what you like and don’t like about yourself is essential for building confidence.

And one personal tip that I can give you is to avoid hiding your flaws and shortcomings in social interactions. In other words, be yourself, entirely yourself at all times.

2) Acknowledge your strengths

Take an objective look at yourself, focusing on all the positive qualities you possess – both big and small. Maybe you take the time to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you, or maybe you’re great at calming people down when they are feeling overwhelmed.

Identifying and acknowledging your strengths can help boost your self-confidence and increase your self-esteem.

3) Try new things

When you try new activities, you expand your range of experiences. This can give you a sense of accomplishment, as well as open up new areas of personal growth. Trying something that you’ve always wanted to do can help build self-esteem and confidence, giving you a newfound appreciation for yourself and your abilities.

4) Celebrate success

When we focus too heavily on our failures, it can be easy to forget the successes and achievements that we have made. Set aside time to recognize your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem.

Celebrate success with a reward – maybe it’s treating yourself to a manicure or buying a new pair of shoes – whatever it is, make sure you enjoy the moment!

5) Surround yourself with positive people

Negative influences can have a serious impact on your self-esteem, so it’s important to surround yourself with positive, supportive friends and family. Look for people who appreciate you for who you are and accept you in spite of your flaws.

6) Practice self-care

Show yourself some love! Self-care is essential to building self-esteem. This can be anything from taking a bubble bath, going for a walk in nature, or just spending time alone reading a good book. Whatever it is that relaxes you and makes you feel happy, do it!

7) Make time for hobbies

If there’s something you’ve been wanting to try, now is the perfect time! Hobbies can be anything from playing guitar to painting or even knitting. Focusing on a task and being productive will give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment, resulting in improved self-esteem.

8) Learn to accept compliments

In order to achieve true self-confidence, we need to learn how to accept praise and compliments. Instead of brushing them off or deflecting them away, take a deep breath and say “Thank you” with a smile. This simple act can help us build the confidence needed for success.

9) Set realistic goals

Unrealistic expectations set us up for failure, which can have a damaging effect on our self-esteem. Make sure to set achievable goals that are specific and measurable so that you can track your progress and be proud of your accomplishments.

From my experience, setting a small goal one at a time can be incredibly helpful for building self-esteem. Start by breaking down a large goal into smaller milestones and celebrating each step along the way. This will help to foster motivation, confidence, and pride in your own accomplishments.

Plus, it’s much easier to stay focused on achieving something when you break it down into smaller goals. Remember, every small goal you achieve is a big win for your self-esteem. So set yourself up for success by setting achievable, measurable small goals and tracking your progress.

10) Speak positively

We often can be our own worst critics and it’s important to recognize how damaging negative self-talk can be. Instead, practice speaking kindly to yourself, recognizing your successes, and reframing failures in a positive light.

11) Embrace vulnerability

It is important to recognize that vulnerability does not equate to weakness, but rather a strength. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable can help build self-esteem as it requires trust in one’s own ability to handle any challenges that may arise.

12) Visualize success

Spend some time each day visualizing your goals and ambitions coming true. This can be a great way to create positive feelings of self-worth and motivate yourself to take action.

13) Get involved

Participating in activities you enjoy is a great way to build self-esteem. Whether it’s getting involved with clubs, volunteering for causes you believe in, or simply joining new hobbies, getting out and meeting people can help boost your confidence.

14) Meditate

Meditation and mindfulness practices can be incredibly powerful tools for cultivating self-compassion and self-love. Take time out to focus on your breath and be present with yourself, without judgment or expectation.

15) Learn to say no

One of the most important things you can do to build self-esteem is to learn to say no. Whether it’s saying no to unhealthy relationships, toxic situations, or things that are simply not aligned with your values, learning when and how to set boundaries will help you feel empowered and in control.

Besides, as Mack Story has said, “Saying NO to the wrong things creates space to say YES to the right things.

Recommended Books

Here are just a few books that may be useful for you. But for a larger list of books, click here.

Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry

The Motivation Code: by Todd Henry

Related Questions

What is confidence vs. Arrogance?

It is safe to use the word arrogance instead of ego. Arrogance is an outward display of self-worth. It’s a better-than-you attitude. This is basically the same as the word ego described above.

Although arrogance is not so much as someone who is looking to celebrate themselves directly but rather more indirectly by trying to convince you that you don’t qualify or are not on the same level as they are.

Either way, the win is the same for these individuals. It generates a feeling of self-importance for them.

Can you have high ego low self-esteem?

Although not always the case, often high ego is a veil that conceals low self-esteem. It’s hard to spot on the surface because the individuals always seem so confident, but beneath it all, if they have a need for approval and recognition, it comes from a deficit that they haven’t been able to fill.

The approval of others can be a bit like a drug. Often people with high ego and low self-esteem will need it constantly and will throw a tantrum when they can’t get their fix.

I hope that this post has helped you recognize and understand how to deal with people with ego issues.

Kat Clukey

I am so glad you are here, and have chosen to spend your time reading my blog. I'm a Life Coach through the Procter Gallagher Institute . Since 2013, I have been on an intense mission to read books, go to seminars, and generally turn myself inside out to find out why some people seem to feel good in their own skin while I've struggled with self-worth and low self-esteem most of my adult life. I hope you find insights that help you on your journey!

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