Confidence vs. Self-Confidence

Do you know the difference between confidence and self-confidence?

They seem to be identical, right? There is an imperative difference between them that you need to know if you are trying to do something for the first time. 

Let’s start by looking at the definition of each from Merriam-Webster

Confidence – a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

Self-confidence – a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment.

I would simplify the dictionary definitions to: 

Confidence is believing in yourself based on your past experience. 

Self-confidence is believing in yourself and your ability without any past evidence.

For example, confidence comes from your belief in your ability to walk down a set of stairs, because you’ve done it hundreds or thousands of times before. Self-confidence is believing in yourself — believing that you can run a marathon or launch a product business without any prior evidence that you can do it.

Failing means you’re doing it right

Here’s a truth: we learn by failing. Failing means you’re doing it right. You don’t have to make it mean anything about you. If you can do it all perfectly, that means you’re not growing, you’re not learning, you’re not stretching yourself. 

Self confidence is what you think about yourself when you fail or before you try something

The single difference between confidence and self-confidence is that when you utilize self-confidence, you are willing to trust yourself to do something you haven’t yet done, because you know you are able to experience an emotion (most often a difficult one like failure, shame, humiliation, frustration, etc. — we all know that trying new things is filled with obstacles) without being harmed. 

That’s it! That’s the secret key to unlock the door to all of your dreams. All you need is a willingness to feel whatever emotions come your way as you try, test, fall down, get back up, adjust one thing, try again, fall, get up, try, etc., and then one time it works. All the puzzle pieces fit into place and you accomplish a dream that felt completely impossible to you when you started. Self-confidence fueled you on your journey, and now you also have confidence because you’ve created evidence that you can run a marathon or launch a product business (or whatever else your impossible, remarkable goal is). 

Relying on self-confidence

We all want to feel more confident, I hear it all the time, and I guarantee that you think about it often. 

  • How can I feel more confident? 
  • How do I build confidence? 
  • There’s something wrong with me because I am filled with self-doubt. 
  • I can’t do this because I’ve never done it before. 

Sound familiar?

Here’s what is absolutely fascinating — we all, every single one of us, have done things for the first time before. We might’ve been afraid, or doubtful, and maybe even hated every second of it. 

Our lives are filled with ‘firsts’. There was a time when you walked for the first time. A time when you learned how to read, spell, and write — and you hadn’t done them before. How were you able to learn how to read and spell and write then? Because you believed that you could do it, and you were willing to feel the frustration and shame and inadequacy when you didn’t get it right. You just tried again and again. And now you are a reading, writing, and spelling pro! 

Somewhere along the way we decide that we can only do things we’ve done before. Even though our lives invite us to explore new identities and skills all the time. Doesn’t that sound way more fun — trying new things — rather than doing the same things you’ve always done?

Self confidence is available to you even when you don’t feel confident

Why do we decide that we need to feel confident? Especially because relying on confidence means that we can only do what we’ve already done before in our past. We can’t rely on confidence to take us forward and try new things, confidence only allows us to repeat our past over and over. 

We need to develop our capacity for self-confidence. Practice believing that you can achieve your dreamiest, impossible goals, because you believe in you, and you’re willing to feel all the feels that come up (yes, even the negative ones).  

Think about what you want to create in your future, and all the possibilities of what you can create. Take a moment and really consider it. Do you feel more self-confidence?

Self confidence is available to you even when you don’t feel confident. That’s because self confidence doesn’t require any past experience or pre-existing ability. It just requires belief in you that you are there for you, going for it, taking action, experimenting, feeling any and all feelings that come up, getting up and trying again, no matter what. 

You won’t know how to achieve your goals until you’ve achieved them and can look back at what you did to accomplish them. 

You can’t rely on confidence in someone else when you’re working towards your goals. You might think that you just need to sign a book agent, or get tech assistance, or find the perfect manufacturer to partner with. But you have to have self confidence in you too. You have to be willing to try and fail for yourself and your dreams. 

This is so important to understand, for so many reasons. I think one of the primary reasons is that you get to take that experience, learnings, and wisdom with you into every future pursuit. That unshakeable self belief that you’ve figured it out before and you can figure anything out. That will fuel you to do everything you need to do to achieve your greatest dreams. 

If you want to succeed more and have more self confidence, all you have to do is fail more. I believe that what we genuinely want inside we also have the capacity to do it. We just need to believe in ourselves. And we need to believe in ourselves before we expect anyone else to believe in us. 

Go deeper 

Question: What is one thought I can think now to create self confidence in me about myself/my business/my goal?


1. List out five things that you have complete confidence in yourself + your abilities. 

Remember: these are things that you’ve done before and have past evidence that you are completely capable of succeeding at these tasks. 

For example: 

  1. Sipping water out of a glass
  2. Walking down a set of stairs
  3. Doing a perfect winged eyeliner
  4. Making coffee
  5. Reading a book

Easy peasy, right? You could do these in your sleep.

2. Now make a list of five things that you want to generate self-confidence for. 

Remember: these are things that you haven’t yet done but you decide to believe in your ability to try, feel the feels, and keep trying until you succeed. 

For example: 

  1. Launching a podcast
  2. Writing a book
  3. Raising a child
  4. Learning pottery
  5. Selling something you made

Your list should be your dreamy goals, and ones that you don’t totally believe are possible for you (yet). The first step to believing they are possible is to go from:

I could never create a podcast for X reasons 

— to —

It’s totally possible that I can create a podcast because I can do anything if I’m willing to feel the feels. 

Give it a try and I’d love if you shared your self-confidence list with me over on instagram


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