I am often asked the question about what is the difference between self-esteem and self-love. Let’s first define self-esteem, which is simply the way you value oneself. Self-esteem centers on the positive attributes, achievements, and strengths of someone. Having taught self-esteem classes to children in the past, the way you build their sense of sense is through positive attribute building exercises. Unfortunately, unless that individual believes the praise they are receiving, no amount of telling someone “how great they are” is going to add to their self-worth. So how can we increase their sense of self? Easy.. first help them learn how to love themselves.
When a person can learn to love him or herself, they have what I term empathetic acceptance. Empathetic acceptance is a term that I use to describe how someone can perceive their feelings, talents, strengths, and weaknesses with understanding and compassion. You have to learn to not only love all those wonderful attributes about yourself, but also those perceived weaknesses. Yes, that means loving that crooked nose or those big feet or whatever you have deemed “not worthy”. We are like a puzzle, and there are many pieces of the puzzle that make a whole.
So which comes first: self-esteem or self-love? The answer is self-love since self-esteem is actually a by-product of when you love yourself. A bully can have a high sense of self (they think they are powerful and beyond reproach) but they do not love themselves. Someone that loves could not possibly perpetrate hateful and humiliating behavior or acts onto another. When you love yourself, you have the confidence and ability to try and experience new things in life even if it appears challenging. In fact, the biggest self-esteem boost is when you are able to accomplish something you originally thought not possible.
Let’s first learn to take the steps to help ourselves and our children learn self-love. The self-esteem will follow!
Please share with me your thoughts about this topic!