You can check my article published on Welldoing Directory: https://welldoing.org/article/how-does-self-esteem-differ-from-self-worth
Self-esteem is one of the hottest topics in the mental health field – it is estimated that approximately 25,000 papers have been written on this subject. So what is self-esteem exactly? And what is the difference between self-esteem and self-worth?
People often confuse self-esteem and self-worth because they are closely linked, yet they are quite different. Self-esteem comes from the praise and encouragement we receive from external sources, meaning external validation; self-worth refers to our intrinsic value as human beings and relates to how much worth we feel about ourselves – the inner support we can learn to give to ourselves. Self-worth is an inside job, while self-esteem can be boosted through external validation.
What leads to low self-esteem?
One of the factors that leads to low self-esteem is not being nurtured or celebrated by others in ways that support our development or confidence – put another way, low self-esteem can be the result of the criticism we absorbed from those around us while growing up. For example, if we were told by our parents that we are not good at drawing, and we believed them, then we may have developed a lack of confidence in making art. Similarly, if we were mocked because of our weight – and we internalised that ridicule – then it is likely we would grow up feeling our bodies are flawed.
So, we can say that someone with low self-esteem is someone who has not had their needs met and who has not felt sufficiently celebrated or encouraged by the world around them.
Is having high self-esteem always a good thing?
We live in a society which promotes the idea that more/bigger/higher is always better. But is this the case with self-esteem?
Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson notes that bullies have higher self-esteem than the average person – they don’t feel bad about themselves when they hit you; rather, they are thinking badly of you. Swedish-Norwegian psychologist Dan Olweus, an expert on bullying prevention, also concludes that bullies have inappropriately high self-esteem, which is why they think they are entitled to bully others. It seems that bullies don’t suffer from a neurotic weakness in self-image.
This tells us that it isn’t necessarily healthy for people to always have a good opinion about themselves. Rather, we need to take an objective and accurate look at ourselves – including our strengths and weaknesses, acknowledging that we have areas for self-improvement, while accepting our shortcomings.
Five ways we compromise our self-esteem:
Six ways to build self-esteem
The good news is that we can build up our self-esteem, although it takes time and practice to develop the new thoughts and habits we need in order to have greater confidence.
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