Mental health tip: Self-esteem versus self-worth

I just read an interesting article by the Regional Men’s Health Initiative looking at the difference between self-esteem and self-worth and wanted to share it.

Self-worth and self-esteem are often confused as being the same, however they are very different.

Self-esteem is about measuring ourselves based on external actions, while self-worth is about valuing our inherent worth as a person. In other words, self-worth is about who we are, not about what we do.

Society pushes for the need to have a high self-esteem, but the problem with this is that we are always valuing ourselves against others. The competitive nature of men tells us we need to be better, and above average, to feel good about ourselves (keeping up appearances). When we look at this way of building our self- esteem it can be a losing battle because there will always be someone more handsome, slimmer, richer, owns bigger and better equipment and so on.

Self-esteem is transient and can change in an instant depending on what happens. For example we may be feeling good about a new piece of machinery, or the quality of our stud, and then someone makes a negative comment and our self-esteem falters, and we feel completely crushed. That’s how fragile our self-esteem can be, because it can also be fixed by a compliment that bolsters us again. Much anxiety can be created in striving for acceptance or approval and maintaining our ego or pride.

Probably the best way to understand self-worth is to ask ourselves how valuable we are, or how much do we deserve to have something we prize. It is a deep knowing that we are of value, that we are loveable and necessary to this life.

One may feel a high self-esteem because they are good at something, yet still not feel they are loveable and worthy. When we have a healthy self-worth (at the very core of ourselves) we have a deep knowing that we are fundamentally a valuable and worthwhile person regardless of:

  • what others may say or do to us;
  • what our successes or failures are;
  • what we win or lose;
  • what we have, or don’t have.

The concept of self-worth is about knowing that we are always going to be worth more than all of our achievements put together. It is a good thing to think and feel good about ourselves, but what happens when our self-esteem is crushed? Does that mean we are no longer valuable? Absolutely not, however many people do think that they are no longer valuable.

Self-worth and self-esteem are vital beliefs for empowering oneself. A valid sense of self-worth is necessary to attain love and a sound mind. A valid sense of self-worth acts as a buffer against the possibility of depression and a feeling of worthlessness that can lead to despair, or possible suicidal behaviour. Situational distress can come from many areas in our lives, so as issues around these life events develop, we need to value our self-worth more than ever to reduce uncertainty for ourselves.

And always remember… before it all gets too much… Talk to a Mate!!

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