The Difference Between Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

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Alison Hall
Alison Hall

Try Freedom Founder and Intuitive Eating Counsellor

The Difference Between Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

Self-esteem and self-worth are two terms often used interchangeably, but they represent distinct aspects of an individual’s self-perception and self-acceptance. Understanding the differences between these concepts is crucial for personal growth and well-being. Let’s delve into the unique qualities of self-esteem and self-worth and how they play a role in our lives.


Self-esteem is the evaluation of your self-worth based on your abilities, achievements and external validation. It’s the way you perceive your competence in specific areas of your life, such as work, relationships or hobbies. Self-esteem can be thought of as a measure of how much you value and respect yourself in these particular contexts.

Key Characteristics of Self-Esteem:

  1. Contextual:

    Self-esteem is context-specific. You may have high self-esteem in your professional life but lower self-esteem in your personal relationships or vice versa.

  2. External Validation:

    It often relies on external feedback and validation. Positive feedback, recognition, or success in a particular area can boost your self-esteem, while criticism or failure can lower it.

  3. Vulnerable to Fluctuations:

    Self-esteem can be fragile, as it’s subject to fluctuations based on your recent experiences and the opinions of others. This makes it susceptible to external influences.

  4. Performance-Oriented:

    Self-esteem is closely linked to your performance and achievements in specific domains. Your self-esteem may rise when you succeed and diminish when you encounter setbacks or failures.

  5. Comparative:

    It frequently involves comparing yourself to others. This comparison can lead to feelings of superiority when you outperform others or inferiority when you perceive yourself as falling short.


Self-worth, on the other hand, is a broader and more intrinsic concept. It refers to the fundamental belief that you are inherently valuable and deserving of love, respect, and happiness, irrespective of your achievements or external validation. Self-worth is about recognising your intrinsic worth as a human being.

Key Characteristics of Self-Worth:

  1. Intrinsic:

    Self-worth is not tied to specific achievements or external factors. It is a fundamental belief in your inherent value as a person.

  2. Consistent:

    Unlike self-esteem, self-worth remains relatively stable over time and across different life domains. It provides a sense of inner security and resilience.

  3. Unconditional:

    It is unconditional and does not require you to meet certain standards or benchmarks to be deemed worthy. You are worthy simply because you exist.

  4. Self-Acceptance:

    Self-worth emphasises self-acceptance and self-compassion. It encourages you to embrace your imperfections and flaws as part of your uniqueness.

  5. Non-Comparative:

    Self-worth is not concerned with comparing yourself to others. It focuses on your relationship with yourself rather than your position relative to others.

The Relationship Between Self-Esteem and Self-Worth:

Self-esteem and self-worth are interconnected but not synonymous. While self-esteem may contribute to your overall sense of self-worth, it should not be the sole foundation of your self-worth. In an ideal scenario, a healthy level of self-esteem can complement a strong foundation of self-worth, enhancing your sense of self-acceptance and resilience.

It’s essential to strike a balance between these two aspects of self-perception. Relying solely on self-esteem can lead to a fragile self-concept, where your worth is contingent on external factors and constantly subject to fluctuations. On the other hand, placing too much emphasis on self-worth without acknowledging the importance of competence and achievement in specific areas of your life may hinder personal growth and development.


Understanding the differences between self-esteem and self-worth is vital for fostering a healthier and more balanced self-concept. Both concepts play essential roles in your overall well-being and personal growth. Developing self-esteem in areas that matter to you while cultivating a foundation of self-worth can help you navigate life’s challenges with greater resilience, self-acceptance and a deeper sense of intrinsic value.

Getting the balance between Self-Esteem and Self-worth Right for Your Journey to Intuitive Eating

Contact Alison Hall at Try Freedom

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