- Self-worth is seen as a self-evaluation that is focused on internal beliefs and stable factors – someone with high self-worth feels valuable and deserving or worthy of love, respect, and consideration.
- Self-esteem, on the other hand, refers to an individual’s qualities and characteristics that are more fluid and subject to external factors.
- Self-worth is rooted in one’s overall appraisal of their value or capability. Some examples of self-worth include security, resilience, and character.
- Ongoing low self-esteem can negatively affect thinking, self-care, motivation, confidence, relationships, and more – all important elements to self-worth.
- At the end of the day, it’s important to have high self-worth and high self-esteem. If you are lacking in either area, take the time to explore those feelings and consider working with a therapist.
There are many closely related “self-” words including self-worth, self-esteem, self-respect, self-value, and so on.
But two appear to mean virtually the same exact thing: self-worth and self-esteem. If you have self-worth, this means that you value yourself – you believe that you’re a good person who is worthy of respect. Meanwhile, self-esteem is your level of confidence in your worth and abilities.
So, what exactly then is the difference between the two? Let’s break it down and then understand more about feelings of self-worth and self-esteem, including how they can help you live a happy and fulfilling life.
What Is the Difference Between Self-Worth and Self-Esteem?
Looking at the definitions of self-worth and self-esteem, it isn’t immediately clear that they differ. But they do – here’s the primary difference between the two: Self-worth is seen as a self-evaluation that is focused on internal beliefs and stable factors – someone with high self-worth feels valuable and deserving or worthy of love, respect, and consideration. Self-esteem, on the other hand, refers to an individual’s qualities and characteristics that are more fluid and subject to external factors, such as one’s:
- Physical appearance
- Perceived success
Where Do Feelings of Self-Worth and Self-Esteem Come From?
Feelings of self-worth and self-esteem come from one’s self-concept. Plainly put, self-concept is the way one thinks about themselves.
Your self-concept can be impacted by conscious and nonconscious factors that can then affect your judgment, mood, and behavioral patterns. Self-concept can also include one’s description, evaluation, characteristics, qualities, skills, or roles.
What Comes First, Self-Esteem or Self-Worth?
Self-worth precedes self-esteem. Developing self-worth helps with healthy identity formation – in fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) found a positive association between positive feelings of self-worth and a high degree of self-acceptance and self-esteem.
What Is the Root of Self-Worth? What Are Examples of Self-Worth?
Self-worth is rooted in one’s overall appraisal of their value or capability. Some examples of self-worth include:
- Security: You have a sense of control over yourself and your environment
- Resilience: You’re able to bounce back from difficult experiences
- Character: You maintain a moral high ground and always try to do the right thing
- Clear core beliefs: You adhere to character traits you believe to be important
- Assertiveness/boundaries: You set healthy boundaries in your relationships – drawing clear lines for what people can and can’t do or say to you.
- Self-compassion: You practice kindness, understanding, and patience with yourself
- Self-love: You have a strong appreciation and adoration for yourself.
- Acceptance: You respect the process of life and your current chapter – acknowledging that everything will or can change.
- Identity formation: You dedicate the time and work to getting to know your true self.
What Age Does Self-Worth Develop?
There isn’t any conclusive age at which self-worth develops; however, it is fair to assume that it begins developing along with awareness and matures over time. By age 5 it is likely that the child would have strengthened their sense of self-worth.
How Does Self-Esteem Impact Self-Worth?
Ongoing low self-esteem can negatively affect thinking, self-care, motivation, confidence, relationships, and resiliency – all important elements to self-worth. In addition, chronic low self-esteem can impact overall well-being, negatively impacting one’s self-worth, and it may even be a signal of a clinical issue.
People with low self-esteem, especially those who deal with it for an extended period of time, should consider scheduling a session with a therapist. If you’re struggling with low self-esteem, they can help you get to the bottom of what’s causing it as well as help you to build it back up and start feeling good about yourself again.
Can You Have High Self-Esteem But Low Self-Worth?
Yes, you can have high self-esteem and low self-worth. For example, you can feel good about how you are performing at school or work, especially if there is a ranking system or you’re paid well while also not genuinely accepting aspects (especially unchangeable ones) of yourself.
At the end of the day, it’s important to have high self-worth and high self-esteem, though it takes time to get there. If you are lacking in either area, take the time to explore those feelings. If you aren’t sure where to start or you’re suffering as a result of low self-esteem or low self-worth, a mental health professional would be a great partner.