Self-Esteem is transient. It’s the sum of “what do I think about myself” combined with “what do other people think about me?” It’s the over-arching assessment of these two factors, each affecting the other, and therefore constantly in flux. Self-esteem is exhausting.
What other people think about you is subjective to your interpretation. Folks don’t walk around with flashing signs describing how they size you up, right? You make your best guess about what they think of you. Your guess is influenced by what you think about you. If you think you’re amazing, you’ll give others the benefit of the doubt that they think you’re pretty great. If you think you’re lowly, then you’ll suss up that their opinion of you is that you are beneath them. Then one begets the other – but are either of those trains of thought actually true?
And what if one of them gets derailed? What if you think your colleague likes and respects you, you have good self-esteem at work. Then in your humanity you “open mouth, insert foot” and offend or hurt them. Now, this colleague is avoiding you while they process their thoughts and emotions, but you size it up that they don’t like you, they hate you, you’re no good, you’re a jerk, and the train goes on. Your positive self-esteem was so feeble that it couldn’t withstand the subjective “what do others think about me.”
Negative self-esteem is also flimsy since it’s relying on anecdotal evidence coming from an internal voice which may or may not be well equipped to accurately assess how someone else feels about you. So the way you feel about yourself in relation to this assessment is unnecessarily horrible.
Other people have their own inner world, and that effects the world at large. Their difficult morning might have put on a put-out, annoyed face – and you’re taking it personally, but it’s really about their difficult morning.
On the other hand, Self-Worth is resilient.
What am I worthy of? Am I worthy of respect? Yes. Am I worthy of kindness? Yes. Am I worthy of love? Yes. Am I worthy of safety? Yes.
Do you see how these statements of worth don’t rely on how a person is assessing themselves and assessing how others assess them? Whew, convoluted statement there.
Statements of worth aren’t determined by how good you are at something or what kind of people you have around you. Statements of worth are about an inner value.
Are they always accurate? No.
Sometimes we have low self-worth. Sometimes we realize we’ve been hurting our spouse for a period of time and we feel that we are worthy of punishment. But, we can atone. Sometimes we grew up in households that made us prove we were worthy of love or respect by our accomplishments or high levels of compliance. Those scripts keep running in our adult minds and we have to learn to identify them when they pop up and then argue their falsehood with truth about your worth (worth isn’t based on what you can provide).
Sometimes we have an inflated self-worth. Sometimes an inordinately high self-worth will end up hurting people around us as they can’t live up to the expectations or standards that we set for ourselves and others. In that case, we rarely feel like we can maintain relationships with others who don’t stay at our level. Because we’re inflated, the people around us begin to eventually deflate.
Because self-worth isn’t reliant upon other people’s opinions of us, and it’s an internal concept we have the power to work on it. To come to a place of honesty about ourselves and our worth. We are born innocent. We love. We try hard. We wish we could do better. We strive to do well. We are all worthy, even when we’ve made mistakes.
If self-esteem vs self-worth is one of your struggles I’d love to help you work to align it up with truth. Please feel free to reach out at (530) 994-5114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.