The terms ‘self-worth’ and ‘self-esteem’ are sometimes used interchangeably but have an important albeit subtle distinction.
Self-esteem is how we see ourselves. How we measure ourselves in terms of our achievements, knowledge, our role in life, how we look, how capable we feel, and what type of person we believe are. This often includes how we compare ourselves to others and what we feel we offer that is of value to the world.
You could say that things like; winning an award, feeling competent, receiving a compliment, having a good job, feeling attractive, liked, loved, needed or knowledgeable etc., are examples of things that might boost one’s self-esteem.
However, if it is not accompanied by robust and healthy self-worth, then a person may find that their sense of well-being is quite fragile and subject to the whims of life’s inevitable ups and downs.
It can be exhausting to only feel of value or loveable under certain conditions. For example, when we hold a certain role, look a certain way, achieve certain things or perform at a certain level. If our self-esteem is tied to our job or achievements for example, we are only one re-structure, redundancy, rejection, mistake, or failure away from feeling completely crushed.
Self-worth on the other hand, is the deep knowing that we are valuable and worthy of love, care, and respect, independent of external measures, comparisons, actions or achievements.
In the same way that a new-born baby is infinitely worthy of love, care, respect, and awe – independent of having done anything to ‘achieve’ it. We are all worthy of the same by merit of our mere existence. And above all things, we are worthy of our OWN love, care, and respect.
What impacts self-worth:
There are many things that can impact the development of healthy self-worth, our upbringing, trauma, bullying, toxic relationships, life experiences etc. Even just the way we are ‘wired’ can have an impact. If we grow up with a sense of being ‘different’ somehow, this can develop a sub-conscious belief of not being good enough in some way or being intrinsically ‘less than’ others. This can lead to people-pleasing, poor boundaries, self-doubt, self-criticism, anxiety, over attachment to external validation, stress, depression, and poor mental health. This can be especially true for highly sensitive, empathic, intuitive people or that are neurodiverse – diagnosed or not.
Before we understand the gifts of our innate uniqueness, we often experience early socialisation with a focus on ‘fitting in’ and complying with norms. If we struggle to do that, even only on the inside, we may self-correct or overcompensate to keep ourselves ‘safe’. Thus, beginning patterns of behaviour and thinking that may not serve us long term.
The good news is that we can all improve our sense of self-worth and there are many tools, practices and therapies that can support us in this. This is one of the reasons that I focus on this important aspect of wellbeing with my clients, products, and work. In fact, an increase in self-worth it is one of the inevitable results of deep self-work and a major contributing factor to any healing or personal development journey.
Mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and creative wellbeing, all have their foundations in healthy self-worth.
Now we know the difference between the two, in future posts I will discuss how we can develop healthy self-worth and how it can be the key to healing and manifesting the life, health and abundance of well-being that we all deserve.
In the meantime – what can you do for yourself that is an act of love, care and respect right now. Feel into what your mind, body, and heart each need from you in this moment. Where are you always putting others before yourself or feeling that you need to over deliver or perform just to be considered equal to others?
Explore these two questions:
- If you knew you were infinitely worthy, just as you are, what would you stop doing?
- If you knew you were infinitely worthy, just as you are, what would you start doing?
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