SELF
ESTEEM

 

 

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What Is Self-Esteem?

 

The Difference Between Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

  

Self-esteem and self-worth are often incorrectly used interchangeably. Learn how self-esteem and self-worth differ, and why both contribute to our wellbeing.

 

The terms self-esteem and self-worth are often used interchangeably.

However, their meanings are quite different.

Some people focus on building their self-esteem, while others prefer to strengthen their sense of self-worth.

In actual fact, though, the development of both is essential in remaining grounded and healthy.

Let’s take a look at some of the key differences between self-esteem and self-worth to see why this is the case.

 

Self-Worth and Self-Esteem Complement One Another

What is Self-Esteem?

 

Self-esteem is the manner in which we evaluate ourselves.

It is our internal assessment of our qualities and attributes.

We have healthy self-esteem when what we think, feel, and believe about ourselves is honest and realistic.

Building and maintaining healthy self-esteem depends on gathering evidence about what we are like as a person.

 

Unhealthy self-esteem, on the other hand, can present itself in the form of two extremes.

Firstly, you can think too highly of yourself, which can lead you to fall into the trap of narcissism.

 

When your self-esteem is too high, you exaggerate your positive traits or deceive yourself about your faults and weaknesses.

A narcissist may believe that his or her opinion matters more than anyone else’s, based on the self-perception that he or she is smarter than everyone.

 

In contrast, when you have low self-esteem, you underestimate – or flat out ignore – your positive characteristics.

If you struggle with low self-esteem, then you may tell yourself that you are stupid, lazy, boring, selfish, inconsiderate, or generally a bad person because of the things you think, say, and do.

You view yourself through a harsh and negative filter.

It becomes difficult to understand why people enjoy your company or sincerely believe any compliments that people give you.

 

What is Self-Worth?

Self-worth is the belief that you are loveable and valuable regardless of how you evaluate your traits. In this way, your self-esteem could hit rock bottom, yet you still hold onto the notion that you have innate worth. This is important.

When you don’t feel good about yourself, this doesn’t mean, of course, that you are no longer valuable.

So you need a form of positive self-perception that acts as a crutch to keep you stable when your self-esteem fluctuates (as it inevitably does for everyone).

 

You may be wondering where self-worth actually comes from.

Well, there are different ways of looking at this.

You could say that you – simply by virtue of being human – have intrinsic value, goodness, and capabilities.

Regardless of whether you are upbeat, talented, or successful, you are good enough.

Self-worth comes from the realization that you always have the capacity to do good and make a positive impact in the world, however small it may be.

 

Another perspective says that your self-worth is based on your wants, which are, again, common to everyone.

Deep down, you desire peace of mind, contentment, relief from suffering, the realization of your potential, and a sense of belonging.

These wants give you inherent value. Just as you respect others because of their wants, it’s crucial to respect yourself in the same way.

 

Depression Threatens Self-Worth

 

When you suffer from depression, you may forget that you need or deserve love and so it becomes difficult to climb out of that pit of worthlessness.

Your perception becomes distorted.

You believe you are unlovable even though people show unconditional positive regard towards you. Self-worth is about showing this same attitude towards yourself.

 

Self-Esteem and Self-Worth Are Both Necessary

Now, while self-worth should act as a foundation, as your mental armor during difficult times, this doesn’t mean that self-esteem is unnecessary or irrelevant.

You can believe that you are lovable and good enough, but this is just one aspect of seeing things for how they really are.

In all kinds of situations, be they work environments or relationships, having a down-to-earth view of yourself (healthy self-esteem) will allow you to be more honest about your qualities and, in turn, able to more effectively grow as a person.

Indeed, self-esteem and self-worth are complementary when it comes to our wellbeing.

 

 

 

Self-Esteem

Self-Worth, Sociometer

 

Confidence in one's value as a human being is a precious psychological resource and generally a highly positive factor in life; it is correlated with achievement, good relationships, and satisfaction. Possessing little self-regard can lead people to become depressed, to fall short of their potential, or to tolerate abusive relationships and situations.

 

Too much self-love, on the other hand, results in an off-putting sense of entitlement and an inability to learn from failures.

It can also be a sign of clinical narcissism, in which individuals may behave in a self-centered, arrogant, and manipulative manner. Perhaps no other self-help topic has spawned so much advice and so many (often conflicting) theories.

 

 

Improving How You Feel About Yourself

Jirsak/Shutterstock

People who experience a steady diet of disapproval from important others—family, supervisors, friends, teachers—might have feelings of low self-esteem.

Yet the healthy individual is able to weather off-putting evaluations.

 

Each person's experience is different, but over the course of the lifespan, self-esteem seems to rise and fall in predictable, systematic ways.

Research suggests that self-esteem grows, by varying degrees, until age 60, when it remains steady before beginning to decline in old age.

 

Self-esteem can influence life in myriad ways, from academic and professional success to relationships and mental health.

Self-esteem, however, is not an immutable characteristic; successes or setbacks, both personal and professional, can fuel fluctuations in feelings of self-worth.

 

What causes low self-esteem?

 

Feelings of high or low self-worth often start in childhood. Family life that is riddled with disapproval can follow a person into adult life.

Low self-esteem can also become a problem because of a poor school environment or a dysfunctional workplace.

Likewise, an unhappy relationship can also alter a person’s self-worth.

 

How can you boost feelings of self-worth?

 

No one person is less worthy than the next person, and no one is deemed more important. Knowing this detail is crucial. To feel more confident and have healthy self-esteem, it helps to put aside fears of being worth less than others.

 

I feel like I can't do anything right. What should I do?

 

How to Reach Your Full Potential

NongMars/Shutterstock

Self-actualization represents the pursuit of reaching one’s full potential.

The concept is rooted in a theory established in 1943 by Abraham Maslow.

The psychologist set forth a hierarchy of psychological needs, illustrating an order of human motivation.

At the base of Maslow’s motivational pyramid lies physiological needs, such as the air we breathe and the food we consume.

Once those needs are met, it is possible to pursue needs for safety, love and belonging, and self-worth.

 

Self-actualization occurs when the more basic needs are met or in the process of being met and it becomes possible to strive to add meaning and personal and social fulfillment to existence—through creativity, intellectual growth, and social progress.

As Maslow himself stated, “What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization.”

 

Will following your "inner compass” help?

 

The world may have expectations for you: an important high-paying job, an ideal set of 2.5 children, a luxury car. Yet you do not have to buy into thinking that you are worthless without these things. Imperfection is perfectly fine.

Also, setting your own goals, and not following someone else’s, will help.

 

How can someone feel more secure about themselves?

 

It’s easy to feel insecure and distressed about it.

An insecure person needs reassurance from the people around them; this person wants others to make decisions and set goals for them.

But taking personal agency is the first step toward feeling more secure and feeling healthy self-esteem.

 

Signs of Strong Self-Esteem

Tracy Siermachesky/Shutterstock

The confident person is easily spotted and commands attention. But there's a healthy balance between too little and too much self-worth.

 

Here are some signs that an individual has the right dose.

  • Knows the difference between confidence and arrogance
  • Is not afraid of feedback
  • Does not people-please or seek approval
  • Is not afraid of conflict
  • Is able to set boundaries
  • Is able to voice needs and opinions
  • Is assertive, but not pushy
  • Is not a slave to perfection
  • Is not afraid of setbacks
  • Does not fear failure
  • Does not feel inferior
  • Accepts who they are

Self-Esteem

Self-Worth, Sociometer

 

Confidence in one's value as a human being is a precious psychological resource and generally a highly positive factor in life; it is correlated with achievement, good relationships, and satisfaction. Possessing little self-regard can lead people to become depressed, to fall short of their potential, or to tolerate abusive relationships and situations.

Too much self-love, on the other hand, results in an off-putting sense of entitlement and an inability to learn from failures. It can also be a sign of clinical narcissism, in which individuals may behave in a self-centered, arrogant, and manipulative manner. Perhaps no other self-help topic has spawned so much advice and so many (often conflicting) theories.