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Difference between Self-esteem and Self-compassion

Self-compassion Kristin NeffWell, the main question is: is there a difference at all between self-esteem and self-compassion. It depends on how we define the two.

Self-esteem is the way we feel about ourselves. Do you feel generally good about yourself, then your self-esteem is considered to be high. Self-compassion on the other hand is about how kind we treat ourselves.


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Self-esteem is beautifying

Self-esteem tends to beautify us and our life.

We can confirm this statement when we picture those people who have a strong self-esteem.  Don’t they smile often and always seem to be happy?  These are the people we like to be around because they radiate serenity.  In their eyes we recognize a mellow beauty which attracts us to them.

We recognize somebody as beautiful who emanates patience, calmness and empathy.  We perceive beauty when we receive esteem from these people.

Self-esteem and beauty have a strong connection.  Having a strong self-esteem makes people look and behave beautiful.  This radiant kind of beauty has nothing to do with an artificially created beauty which has only an emptiness behind it.

Real beauty is always perceived by seeing and feeling, the same as with a strong self-esteem.

Can we change other people?

We don’t change other people, people change themselves.  But a healthy self-esteem can be a positive example to encourage others to make their own changes.

Having a high self-esteem means that we are self-confident in what we are and what we do in a healthy way.  This means that we don’t overestimate our abilities but that we have a deep self-understanding of failure and success as being part of our life.  This life wisdom emerges from a high self-esteem and can help people around us to undertake the effort for a positive change in their own lives.

We often experience that it’s easier to lead by example than by words.  When people see us handling life situations calmly and self-confidently they are more likely to do the same.  This is the only way we can help others to realize changes in their attitudes and lives.

Self-esteem and school bullying

School bullying is a wide-spread phenomenon.  Nearly every child who goes to school has had either a first or second-hand experience with bullying.

Because it’s believed that people with a high self-esteem don’t depend on outer judgments people might mistakenly think that kids who bully possess a high self-esteem.


When we take a closer look at bullies we realize that these students don’t have a high self-esteem at all.  On the contrary, their self-esteem is so low that they have to prove their power over and over again by bullying others.

Kids with high self-esteem don’t need to prove it to themselves and the world over and over again.  They’re just balanced and calm.

The most convincing sign for a high self-esteem is genuine interest in others in a friendly and supportive way.


Esteem means clearing out our minds

When we integrate esteem in our life we experience an inner calmness which we also call serenity.

To be able to reach serenity we need to clear out our minds.  In fact it’s like clearing out our homes from clutter.  The clutter in our homes shows that we can’t let go of things.  We collect them and we bind ourselves to them.

In our mind we do the same, we can’t let go thoughts, memories, habits and attitudes.

Just by letting go of one binding thought we immediately feel freedom and calmness.  This small step makes us open enough to allow esteem to enter in our life.  And even better: the more we live esteem, the more we are able to clear out our mind and live a life in calmness and serenity.


Esteem for nurses

The nursing profession has much to offer those who pursue it as a career.   Often it’s just the satisfaction of helping and serving in a position vital to a community.

The demands of the job are many and varied.  Patience, understanding, calmness, friendliness and not the least of all, extensive medical knowledge.

Often patients fail to give esteem toward nurses and their precious work because they are distracted by pain, fear and maybe even money concerns.

This lack of acknowledgement can create difficult moments for nurses.  Many nurses who leave the field cite this lack of esteem as a primary reason.

Having uplifting work, and the esteem of those whom they serve is a recipe for building strong self-esteem and ultimately happiness.


Self-esteem and self-handicapping

The word “self-handicapping” was first used in psychological studies 30 years ago.  It describes a certain attitude of how people handle failures.

Self-handicapping is about cheating ourselves.  When facing failure people can make all kinds of excuses without acknowledging that they could have done more to achieve success.

Self-handicapping means that people defend themselves by talking about all the reasons why they couldn’t possibly succeed.

A high self-esteem doesn’t know this self-handicapping attitude.  With a high self-esteem we don’t need to defend our failure because we have enough self-confidence to know that we did our best.

We don’t need to find excuses when something doesn’t work out as we thought.  Our self-esteem, based on self-knowledge, gives us confidence and calmness.

For a person with a healthy self-esteem failure never means loss of esteem because giving ourselves esteem always means having strength to face new goals and new efforts toward success.


Esteem doesn’t delight in the wrong

It’s safe to say that nobody with ethical feelings can really delight in injustice.

Too often people don’t experience esteem in their lives.  As long as we have to fight in order to get esteem we will experience over and over that others get esteem unjustifiably.

Why unjustifiably?  When esteem is given only under certain conditions it misses its real meaning.  Then it’s no longer esteem but material reward bound to a certain cause.  Losing the cause means losing the reward.  On the other hand it means that people without the required condition don’t get esteem.

This situation creates injustice and feelings of anger.  Anger, on the other hand, can make people delight in the suffering of others, which creates another injustice.

Esteem escapes this circle of bad feelings.  When we give esteem freely without any preconditions we get it the same way and we won’t have any reason to delight in injustice.

The experience of genuine esteem liberates us in an all-inclusive way.  It changes our anger reaction into understanding and the urge to be even more focused on esteem.  Knowing that esteem can break through negative circles like this pushes us toward a life full of esteem.


Esteem is freeing

Positive thoughts and positive words create an overall positive atmosphere.

We express esteem through positive words and actions otherwise it wouldn’t be genuine esteem.

When we dedicate ourselves toward thinking positively we also free ourselves from anxiety.

Living esteem has an enormous calming effect on us and on the people receiving esteem.  We experience ourselves as being free because nothing causes us to get worked up.

We look at the world and the people around us with understanding, which makes us patient and calm.

Giving esteem also frees us from being too focused on ourselves.  We want to see other people happy.  Esteem makes us put our awareness on our fellow man and makes us at the same time happy for ourselves too.


Is calmness a sign of self-esteem?

Persons with a high self-esteem create the impression that they are calm.  Even when the world around them seems to be agitated and nervous they stay seemingly serene.

Is calmness a sign of self-esteem?  As with so many other questions about esteem and self-esteem the answers aren’t only yes or no.  Self-esteem is a life attitude and life is never just yes or no.  Let’s take a closer look at what sorts of calmness we can encounter.

Calmness is most often not a sign of self-esteem when it’s based on carelessness and emotional distance.  There are persons who distance themselves from trouble without any interest in other people’s situation.

On the other hand, calmness may be a real sign of self-esteem if it goes together with empathy and interest.  When people lose control or panic, a person with high self-esteem can convey a feeling of calmness in order to go safely through rough times.

Calmness emitted from a high self-esteem is always helping and caring.  There is one sure sign of knowing what kind of calmness we encounter: it’s our own feeling.  We feel immediately if calmness is based on indifference or on compassion.