Self-Esteem vs. Self Worth

*Note: this post is based on my own experiences and opinions – not facts.

Self-esteem and self-worth are often used interchangeably or synonymously when people are asked how they feel about themselves. I’d like to offer up another point of view, which came after realizing my high level of self-esteem – and my shockingly low level of self-worth.

If I’m being completely honest – and I think I already did that by creating this blog – I’ve never thought that I was particularly important as a person. Whenever I would be complimented for doing something I would think, someone else could have done that. I was naturally inclined to not consider the things I do and say as important, which isn’t a great place for anyone to be…especially if you have mental health issues.

It didn’t matter what I accomplished, I would maintain that mentality. Someone else could have done that or someone else did that or better yet someone else is doing that right now. I knew I was my own person; I just didn’t think that person mattered.

But here was the differece: my self-esteem was never tied to my self-worth. I was able to accomplish a number of things that would have been impossible without some level of self-esteem. I was a varsity athlete and honors student in high school. I traveled abroad throughout college. I moved from one end of the country and back (there will be more on that in a future post – for sure). I’ve done many things in life that I wouldn’t have accomplished without having some level of self-esteem.

For me, self-esteem was tied to my actions; I was confident in my abilities, my skills, my gifts. My self-worth was (and is) belief in me as a person. My skills in sports, academics or anything else didn’t have anything to do with whether or not I believed I mattered in this world.

I lived a long time with the mindset that if I just grew my self-esteem, my self-worth would grow along with it. But that wasn’t the case. I would feel good about my talents and abilities but still feel worthless and not worthy of my place in the world. Now that I have realized that there’s a difference between the two, I can begin to attack that lack of self-worth and see it for what it is, rather than something that’s wrapped up in other feelings and emotions.

I realize my story might be unique; maybe for most people, their self-worth is directly tied to their self-esteem. But if you’re a confident person who doesn’t think they matter in the world, please trust me when I say that you are not alone in feeling that. And you absolutely do matter.



6 thoughts on “Self-Esteem vs. Self Worth

  1. Jack September 22, 2017 / 5:04 pm

    Great post, thank you for giving my brain a good think this afternoon!

    Not to take away from your experience or how you define your emotions, but after reading your post and doing some research on PsychInfo and Psychology Today, I found this which breaks down Self-Esteem further, but in doing so links self-esteem and self-worth more closely. Again, I don’t think this article takes away how you differentiate the two, but kinda interesting.


    • Nathan Smith September 22, 2017 / 7:22 pm

      Read the article, it’s a really good read. I’ve always thought how interesting the differences can be between what we perceive to be true and what is actually true, which the article kind of hints at. Thanks for sharing!


  2. jennymarie4 September 23, 2017 / 12:25 am

    Great post! Thank you for visiting my blog and the nice comment on one of my posts. I just read your about page. I’m so glad you’ve decided to speak out about your mental health issues, thank you for sharing! As a mental health advocate, I really think it’s important to talk about mental illness, to eventually lessen the stigma. I look forward to reading more! Take care, Jenny

    Liked by 1 person

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