Self-Compassion vs. Self-Esteem

Self-Compassion vs. Self-Esteem

Has anyone ever told you to be nice to yourself? Self-compassion involves relating to yourself in a positive way and is different than self-esteem, though the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably when people talk about feeling better about themselves. In this post, I’m going to explore some of the key differences between self-compassion and self-esteem, and why self-compassion is a better pursuit if you want to improve your well-being.

Learn to cultivate self-compassion through Online Counseling in New Jersey

Do you feel like you would benefit from cultivating self-compassion? Contact me to learn more about working together through online counseling in New Jersey.

I now also offer Online Counseling in Pennsylvania, contact me to learn more.

Issues with self-esteem

Self-esteem, or how positively we evaluate ourselves, has frequently been viewed as essential to improving life satisfaction. Having high self-esteem can mean experiencing higher levels of happiness, however there can also be significant costs. High levels of self-esteem have been correlated with narcissism. 1 It can also cause people to inaccurately assess themselves in relationship to others by thinking they possess more positive traits than other people.2 Self-esteem does not cause someone to behave in a more positive way, either. People with high self-esteem are no less aggressive than people with low self-esteem, and are just as likely to be bullies.2

Self-esteem is a well-intentioned concept with the goal of helping people feel more positively about themselves, and even though self-esteem has proven to be problematic, the goal of feeling more positively about yourself is still essential for well-being. As self-esteem has fallen out of favor due to some of the issues mentioned above, self-compassion has gained momentum as a way to improve your relationship with yourself.

Why cultivate self-compassion?

Self-esteem asks you to feel better about yourself, often in comparison to those around you, self-compassion is not contingent upon how anyone else is doing in relationship to you. There’s no pressure to be better than anyone. Self-compassion asks you to be kind to yourself in a nonjudgmental way, accepting imperfections as part of the human condition rather than something that impacts your worth as a person. Self-compassion means viewing yourself as worthy regardless of external measures like how well you performed at something, how attractive you are, your status, etc. While your self-esteem may take a blow when you don’t perform well, or you don’t have something someone else does, these situations become an opportunity to deepen your self-compassion. When the pain of not feeling as good as someone else creeps in, self-compassion can be our consistent and reliable guide to being kind to ourselves.

According to Dr. Kristen Neff, self-compassion is made up of three components, self-kindness, mindfulness, and common humanity. Here are some of the benefits associated with practicing self-compassion:

  1. Being able to positively reframe your problems.3
  2. Having an increase in emotional clarity which helps with handling difficult situations.3
  3. Experiencing a decrease in experiences of anxiety, shame, self-criticism, and depression.4

Sarah Tronco, LCSW, provides online counseling in New Jersey and works to develop a strong therapeutic relationship with her clients, which helps to create a secure place where individuals can achieve meaningful change.

Sarah Tronco, LCSW, now also provides Online Counseling in Pennsylvania, contact her to learn more.



  5. Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash

You may also like