It’s very common to confuse these two terms or to think that they’re interchangeable. But they’re actually quite different, and not the same, at all.
The best way to understand self worth is to ask yourself how valuable you are, or how much you deserve to have something you prize (For example, a great relationship, expensive clothes, success at school or a fabulous job). In fact, many highly talented and gifted people sabotage opportunities that come their way as they feel they’re not worth it, or aren’t good enough. In terms of origins, our experiences in childhood play a critical part in determining what we believe we deserve, and what we can accomplish, and what we should expect. (That is, our basic sense of self worth.) Of course, the healthy thing is to always challenge this, and to keep on working on our basic beliefs, and to go for bigger goals, so we keep growing our successes. And success, here, can be a wide range of things – a fabulous partner who always treats us well, applying for a course or a job we really want, or getting a promotion and moving up the ladder. The goal is to reach your full potential in the end.
In contrast, self esteem is a bit more transient and can change in an instant - depending on what happens. So we can dress really well and feel quite good about ourselves, and then a friend makes a nasty comment, and our self-esteem falters, and we feel completely crushed. That’s how fragile our self esteem can be. But the good news is … it is easier to fix, as a compliment from others can bolster us again!
From this we can see that a healthy self worth is harder to cultivate – but more important, too. Hence, we should work on both – as each affects our thoughts and feelings – but mainly focus on improving our self worth … as this set the course, and the direction, of our lives!