The Distinction of Self

Yesterday I was intrigued by the difference between Confidence and Self-Confidence, Esteem and Self-Esteem and Awareness and Self-Awareness … what is the distinction in the meaning of the words: confidence, esteem and awareness, when you place the word “Self” before it?

Confidence and Self-Confidence

The difference is between our inner and outer worlds. When we have confidence in something, the weather being fine, a sports team winning the final, a new business project coming through, we’re confident in an external event emerging in our world. We’re not always right but we’re prepared to have faith in the outcome, demonstrate confidence that this will indeed be the case. What about self-confidence?

When we have self-confidence, we have faith in our own ability to realize a certain outcome. We have the self-confidence to risk not always being right, not being perfect, not being totally brilliant, but being ourselves and putting everything we have into something to achieve a successful outcome. We’re prepared to put ourselves to the test and grow – despite the fear. Self-confidence is the exercise of courage and commitment notwithstanding the fact that our stomach might be swirling and our pulse racing. We’re going to give it our best shot and with that attitude, we become more successful, grow stronger and more self-confident!

Esteem and Self-Esteem

The same goes for Esteem. Having esteem for others, holding them in high regard, is a mark of respect. Having esteem for our children’s friends, our colleagues, works of art, new ideas, cultural events, spiritual disciplines – this all amounts to an outward projection of respectful regard that others appreciate. The alternative to respect, is to reject. Rejection does not give rise to the other person or people concerned feeling good about themselves. And we know, what goes around, comes around, so having esteem for others is a precursor to Self-Esteem.

Self-Esteem is built as much on our vulnerabilities as it is on our strengths. If it was based on our capabilities alone, we would tend to arrogance. However when we have self-esteem based on all of who we are, including our weaknesses, wounds, blunders and bungles, then we tap into our natural humility as human beings on a spiritual course. To err is human. To aspire is spiritual. Based on the firm foundations of strength and vulnerability, our self-esteem remains strong.

Awareness and Self-Awareness

And what of Awareness? Awareness is being aware of how others are feeling. To be able to sense what is happening in the room, to see the dynamic at play, and therefore to realize the opportunity to intercede gracefully to either regenerate harmony or provide a safe space for truth-telling. This awareness is developed by tuning into the energy, the atmosphere, the ambience around you, noticing the subtlest of body language cues which are always total give-aways, and the words expressed by others, often throw-away lines. These also tell the story.

Self-awareness is about putting two and two together in terms of what our world is trying to teach us. Rather than notice what’s happening amongst others, we pay attention to what is showing up in our world and what this is trying to teach us. Let me give you an example. I have my youngest daughter staying with me and while we get on well, we do not gel so much these days. I feel her rejection of who I am. So this morning I reflected on her rejection – correction, my perception of her rejection – and asked myself: “What qualities that I associate with her am I rejecting within myself to cause me to feel rejected by her?” You see, everything in life is designed to teach us provided we take time to identify the projection. This is Self-Awareness.

It seems to me that Awareness and Self-Awareness, Esteem and Self-Esteem, and Confidence and Self-Confidence are each a couplet, where one amplifies the other in turn. They are mutually edifying. To grow is Awareness, requires growth in Self-Awareness and provides growth in Self-Awareness.

So today, see if you can bring more Awareness, Confidence and Esteem into every situation to build your own Self-Awareness, Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem along the way.

Published by Antoinette Braks

Antoinette Braks leads the design and delivery of SHIFT Leadership Development Individual and Group Coaching Programs for Senior Executives and High Potential Leaders to enable them to join the shift from being high performing achievers to becoming inspiring strategic leaders at divisional, regional and C-suite levels.

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