Mental Fitness

Self Worth vs Self Esteem: 6 Differences Between the Two

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Written By Sikandar Riaz

This is a guide covering self-worth and self-esteem.

Many people struggle to differentiate between concepts related to the self.

I am, of course, referring to self-respect, self-confidence, self-worth, self-love, and self-esteem, et cetera.

The most commonly confused pairing is that of self-esteem versus self-worth.

Many would say they mean the same thing – brushing aside your attempts at defining and establishing once and for all that they mean different things.

Then there are some who believe that having one naturally (or automatically) means that you have the other; if you have self-esteem then you have self-worth like a buy-1, get-1 free sale offer at the Wal-Mart.

If you are one of these people that have a hard time differentiating and comparing self-worth versus self-esteem, or even if you believe that there is a difference but cannot quite put your finger on it, then you are not alone.

This guide will provide you with the knowledge for discerning between self-worth versus self-esteem.

self worth example

You will also be able to recognize and understand them in yourself and others.

I will also be including examples of what a person with these qualities looks like, how they act, and what can be expected of a person with high self-worth and self-esteem.

So why don’t we start with the self-worth definition?

We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):

6 Differences Between Self Worth and Self Esteem?

Before diving into the definitions of self-worth and self-esteem, I wanted to share this overview table so you can see the difference.

It is apparent that both are distinct concepts that affect our thinking, feeling, and behavior in their unique ways.

Let’s look at self-worth versus self-esteem side by side.

Self-worth is based on your intrinsic value as a human beingSelf-esteem is based on your external accomplishments
Self-worth makes you self-acceptingSelf-esteem motivates you to accomplish more
Self-worth is based on self-love and compassionSelf-esteem is based on recognition
Self-worth is unharmed by external circumstancesSelf-esteem can often be shattered by external circumstances
Self-worth fills us with gratitudeSelf-esteem fills us with confidence
Self-worth means we are worthy of unconditional loveSelf-esteem means we are worthy of love and respect because of such and such accomplishments

Is it Better to Have Self-Worth or Self-Esteem?

Neither self-worth nor self-esteem is inherently “better” than the other. Both play important roles in shaping your overall well-being and mental health.

However, some argue that self-worth is a more stable and resilient foundation because it doesn’t rely solely on external factors, making it less vulnerable to fluctuations in circumstances or the opinions of others.

Striving for a healthy balance between self-worth and self-esteem is important. Here’s why:

  • Healthy self-esteem: Having a positive view of your abilities and accomplishments can boost your confidence, motivation, and overall mental well-being. It can drive you to set and achieve goals and contribute to a sense of accomplishment.
  • Strong self-worth: Developing a solid sense of self-worth provides a stable foundation that helps you navigate challenges and setbacks. It allows you to maintain your sense of value and worthiness even when external validation is lacking.

In an ideal scenario, a healthy individual possesses both self-worth and self-esteem. They understand their intrinsic value while also acknowledging their skills and accomplishments.

Striking a balance between these two aspects can lead to a more resilient and positive self-concept.

Ultimately, the emphasis on self-worth or self-esteem may vary depending on individual needs and circumstances.

It’s essential to cultivate a holistic sense of self that encompasses both your inherent worth and your achievements.

If you find that your self-esteem is overly reliant on external validation, working on developing a strong sense of self-worth can provide a more stable foundation for your overall well-being.

What is Self-Worth?

Self-worth is the knowledge that we are inherently worthy of love.

We are valuable not because we look a certain way, work in a certain profession, or talk in a specific manner; our value as a person is not measured in material possessions or the status we hold in society because basing our worth on outside factors puts you in a vulnerable position.

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” – Buddha

You cannot control the circumstances in your life. There will always be someone better than you out there.

This attitude is not self-defeating; it is liberating.

Self-worth is the result of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-love. People who dwell on their mistakes lack self-worth.

Self-worth helps us accept who we are, as we are, and not because we have that job, that person for a partner, or that brand’s clothes et cetera.

Those things do not define you as a person.

Your worth is more than any single one of them and all of them combined.

Self-worth is a deep sense that no matter how awful you feel about your situation, you, as a person, are valuable, worth loving, and worth caring.

know your worth self worth
know your worth

Why is Self-Worth Important?

So what good is having this deep knowledge that you are worthy of love and compassion as a human and not because you have a specific job?

What will knowing your worth as a human do for you?

Self-worth is a powerful thing to have. Self-worth gives you emotional resilience; you will always be in control of your response to tragic situations.

People lacking in self-worth will blow things out of proportion and lose the bigger picture at play.

Since lacking self-worth means that we believe that our worthiness as a human lies somewhere else other than in our identity as a being, it leads to thinking that is extremely dependent on outside factors.

You have people who think their business is all they have, their spouse or partner is someone without whom they would rather not live, or their identity as a person lies in the fact that they look or talk a certain way.

People who lack self-worth are dependent on crutches.

We become so dependent on these crutches that we build the whole of our identity around a specific thing in the outside environment.

Self-worth gives us that confidence that even if they were deprived of a certain thing that it would be all right.

They don’t create doomsday scenarios based on every misfortune that befalls them.

It shows us our worth lies beyond what we do, what we say, and what we look like. We are intrinsically valuable.

Self-worth will teach you to love yourself unconditionally.

Later on, in our comparison of self-worth versus self-esteem, we will find that self-worth is our rock that never shakes when self-esteem deflates.

Examples of Self-Worth

Here are some exemplary behaviors of a person with self-worth:

  • A person with self-worth faces life’s ups and downs with emotional resilience
  • A person with self-worth will rarely lapse into a depressive state
  • Self-worth enables people to love themselves first
  • A person with self-worth does not measure himself in achievements or external possessions
  • Self-worth will bring a marked change in a person’s view of himself/herself.

Self-esteem without self-worth is running on empty calories.

You need to have a solid base of self-worth to have a healthy psychological response to life’s never-ending troubles.

self love example

What is Self-Esteem?

The definition of self-esteem is to base your opinion of yourself on your performance and ability at a certain task or field of your life.

Self-esteem is built around our self-evaluation in areas that matter to us. Am I good at my job? Does my boss respect my work?

Am I attractive enough to go on a date? Do I consider myself intelligent?

And on and on we keep on evaluating ourselves through our thoughts, our feelings, and making value judgments about ourselves.

At times, we feel that we tend to over-evaluate our potential; we are overconfident in our abilities to perform a certain task. This can lead to narcissism.

On the other hand, there are times, when we hit a roadblock and negative thinking creeps in, making us feel that we are somehow incompetent or even worthless. This is a mark of low esteem.

Both of these extremes need to be avoided.

What is Healthy Self-Esteem?

Overly high self-esteem can make us look overconfident or even braggy, an egotistical jerk, and on the opposite side of the equation, extremely low self-esteem can make us susceptible to feelings of incompetence or lack of confidence.

Healthy self-esteem makes us take things in strides.

When faced with a slump, we don’t just start imagining doomsday scenarios, forgetting that we are more than the trouble we are facing.

And equally, healthy self-esteem also makes us less self-centered.

It should be noted that whenever we refer to self-esteem from here on in, it will be healthy self-esteem and that making this distinction is important.

A healthy level of self-esteem is a byproduct of solid self-worth.

Benefits of Increasing Self-Confidence
healthy self-esteem

Why is Self-Esteem Important?

Self-esteem is important because it gives us confidence in our abilities. We need to have a certain sense of confidence to perform well in life.

Self-esteem is knowing that you are capable of doing certain things.

It is a motivating factor that influences our decision to pursue certain goals.

So when we have self-esteem, it is based on our accomplishments as a person. The more accomplished we think we are in a certain field, the greater our self-esteem.

This naturally reflects well on our overall perception of ourselves.

When we think and feel good about ourselves, we are likely to be happier which, in turn, will lead us to have better relationships.

better relationships self esteem
better relationships

Also, self-esteem enables us to be more confident in ourselves, and a healthy level of self-esteem even leads to low self-doubt.

Unnecessary or excessive self-doubt is self-sabotage, and people with self-esteem avoid doubting every move they make.

Examples of Self Esteem

What are some exemplary behaviors of a person with self-esteem? Let’s explore:

  • Not afraid to have the hard talk (confronting someone for a certain behavior or habit)
  • A motivational drive to achieve more
  • Having boundaries, and the ability to say, ‘no’.
  • Saying what is on your mind; calling a spade, spade
  • Taking good care of yourself
  • Not tolerant of abusive and manipulative behavior
  • Think highly of yourself, but not verging on self-centeredness or entitlement.

Can You Have High Self-Worth but Low Self-Esteem?

So if self-worth and self-esteem are two distinct parts of ourselves then it is entirely possible to have one and not the other.

People recognize that they are worthy of love, respect, and compassion, but that will not make them feel better about themselves if they lack achievement in certain important areas of life.

Self-esteem is an issue that relates to our evaluation based upon self-efficacy or how well we do a certain job, or how well we rate ourselves on a certain quality, but having a high sense of self-worth is not related to external factors.

If you base your self-worth on outside factors then you put your mental health at risk.

Because if your value as a human were to be tied to success at your job, for example, then you cannot guarantee that you will succeed at every turn.

Having a high sense of self-worth but low self-esteem motivates us to recognize the areas where we might have little growth to do, which can embolden us to face challenges.

Final Remarks

Self-worth and self-esteem are both important for holistic personality development.

Both the concepts of the self are distinctly separate as we have seen through their definitions and comparison.

Self-esteem can be ephemeral, and it is important to have a solid sense of self-worth to support your self-esteem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you have high self-worth but low self-esteem?

Yes, it is possible to have high self-worth but low self-esteem. Self-worth is a measure of how much you value yourself and your abilities, while self-esteem refers to how you feel about yourself and your abilities. Someone may value themselves highly but still struggle with feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem in specific areas or situations.

Is self-worth emotional or mental?

Self-worth is a psychological concept that encompasses both emotional and mental aspects. It involves how you perceive and value yourself as a whole, including your beliefs about your own abilities, values, and worthiness as a person.

What comes first self-esteem or self-worth?

Self-worth is generally considered to come first, as it represents a fundamental belief in one’s own inherent value and worthiness as a person. Self-esteem, on the other hand, is often seen as a reflection of how one’s experiences and interactions with the world shape their perception of themselves.