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Self-Esteem, Self-Love – What’s the Difference?

By Lori Hough, LifeGuide

Self-Esteem, Self-Love – What’s the Difference?

Are Self-Esteem and Self-Love the same thing? The answer is, yes and no.

Self-Esteem is a belief in your own worth and value. It is your overall opinion of yourself, with a balanced, accurate view of your abilities and limitations. Healthy self-esteem is having self-confidence, feeling secure, having an identity, and feeling competent. It’s the foundation that enables you to be assertive, set boundaries, create healthy relationships, pursue your interests and goals - and feel proud of who you are.

Self-Love is appreciating yourself and demonstrating your appreciation. Self-love means growth; affirming who you are, while broadening your experiences and expanding your life. It is placing value on your well-being and happiness, prioritizing actions that nurture and support yourself.  

Commit to loving yourself!

If you’ve ever been in love, you know the beginning of a relationship is exciting, full of attentiveness and connection, sharing great experiences, and keeping promises. It is scant of criticism, judgement or harsh words, while overlooking flaws. During this early stage of love, dopamine and serotonin (the feel-good chemicals) are activated, producing the overall feeling of happiness.

Imagine feeling this same way about yourself! As you continue to practice self-love, you’ll recognize and foster your own value and worth. These feelings, in turn, can propel you to new heights and accomplishments.

External vs. Internal Self-Love --- The Dynamic Duo

Self-love can be expressed by pampering yourself, disconnecting to enjoy some quiet time, giving yourself a gift, or taking time to relax and unwind. It is what I call external self-love. It is an activity, or something tangible, reinforcing the belief that you deserve something special. Since it can be done anytime, anywhere, and often without a great deal of preparation, acts of external self-love can be an easy, quick, and effective self-esteem booster.

Whereas, thoughts about yourself, what you say to yourself, how you support your well-being is what I refer to as internal self-love - it’s evidence of respect and appreciation for yourself. You’ll boost your self-esteem, by intentionally creating what you feel you deserve, which often leads to eliminating what you don’t want in your life.

External and internal self-love reflects that you value yourself with an awareness that you deserve to be treated well.

Self-love is…….

Transformation. Abundance. Fulfillment. Possibility. Connection with yourself. Mindfulness - knowing what you want, think, and feel, and acting on it. Championing your mental, emotional, and physical health. Passion for your life. Everything you want begins with cultivating self-love.

Let’s cultivate our own self-love and increase our self-esteem!

Here are a few powerful, down-to-your-core, thought-provoking methods:

  1. Define yourself – create an “I am…..” list of who you are and who you aspire to become. Examples may be: I am…… compassionate, adventurous, intentional rather than reactive, committed to myself, excited about my future. Saying them aloud affirms yourself, reminding you of what you are capable of and grateful for, inspiring you to evolve.
  2. Know your worth – create an “I deserve…..” (or “I’m worthy of…..”) list. These are what you value and want in life, from daily practices to big achievements. Examples are: I deserve… to flourish, a beautiful home, happiness, good health, respect. Saying them aloud underscores their importance, prompting you to achieve them, while creating awareness of where they’re lacking in your life.
  3. No negative self-talk – you wouldn’t tell a friend or child they’re an idiot, ugly, stupid, or fat. Don’t say this to yourself!
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others – be inspired by others, but only compare yourself to where you were before. Celebrate your growth; look forward to continued evolution.
  5. Set boundaries - set limits; say no to things and people that deplete or harm you. You’ll love having your own back and trusting yourself.
  6. Let go of toxic people – surround yourself with people who love and respect you. This is a tough one; it means eliminating or distancing yourself from people who don’t value you.  
  7. Forgive yourself – take responsibility, but don’t continue to punish yourself. Accept you are human and not perfect. Make amends (when necessary). Learn, grow, and move on.
  8. Live intentionally – practice daily self-care with proper sleep, good nutrition, exercise, fun activities, and healthy social interactions. Create an environment to live in that inspires you and supports your intentions, values, and purpose.

So, are self-esteem and self-love the same? The answer is they’re actually interconnected.

Self-esteem and self-love reinforce each other. As you practice self-love, you build your self-esteem. With increased self-esteem, you’ll practice more meaningful self-love.

Together, they make you emotionally healthier, happier, and more confident to draw on your amazing talents and abilities, as you pursue your most fulfilling life yet.


Lori Hough is a Certified Life Coach, Relationship Coach & LifeGuide

As a LifeGuide, Lori's expertise includes: Self-Esteem, Self-Image; Thriving Relationships; Embracing Change; Healthy Habits Planning; Overcoming Fear; Resilience & Adaptability.