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  • Writer's pictureEmmily Weldon

Self-Compassion vs. Self-Esteem: Understanding the Difference

The concepts of self-compassion and self-esteem are often discussed in the context of self-worth and self-care. Let's explore the distinctions between self-compassion and self-esteem, and shed light on the advantages of self-compassion as a more sustainable source of self-worth.

Defining Self-Esteem:

Self-esteem refers to the value and respect we place on ourselves. It involves the belief that we are worthy of love, happiness, and success. Self-esteem often relies on external validation, achievements, and comparisons to others to establish a sense of self-worth.

Defining Self-Compassion:

Self-compassion, on the other hand, involves being kind, understanding, and nurturing towards oneself, particularly in times of difficulty. It doesn't rely on external factors or comparisons. Instead, it's about recognizing that everyone is deserving of kindness and care, including ourselves.

Key Differences:


Self-esteem often stems from external validation, such as praise or achievements, while self-compassion arises from an internal sense of kindness and understanding, independent of external factors.

Stability: Self-esteem can be volatile, as it can fluctuate based on external successes or failures. Self-compassion remains stable and is consistently available, regardless of external circumstances.

Resilience: Self-compassion promotes resilience. It allows us to acknowledge our shortcomings without harsh self-criticism and to learn from mistakes. Self-esteem may falter when facing failures.

Comparison: Self-esteem often relies on comparisons to others for validation, which can lead to feelings of superiority or inferiority. Self-compassion emphasizes a shared human experience and a sense of common humanity.

The Benefits of Self-Compassion:

Emotional Resilience: Self-compassion helps individuals bounce back from setbacks with a more positive mindset and less self-blame.

Less Anxiety and Depression: Self-compassion is linked to reduced levels of anxiety and depression, as it fosters a gentler attitude toward oneself.

Greater Life Satisfaction: Individuals who practice self-compassion often report higher levels of life satisfaction and overall well-being.

While self-esteem has its merits, self-compassion is emerging as a more sustainable and balanced source of self-worth. It provides emotional stability, resilience, and improved mental health. By understanding the distinctions between self-compassion and self-esteem and embracing self-compassion in our lives, we can foster a kinder, more understanding relationship with ourselves, leading to greater emotional well-being and self-acceptance.

If you are searching for a therapist or counselor you can use a directory service where you can narrow your search based on types of therapy, insurance, location, etc.. Counselor directories to get started can include or mental health match. If you are interested in connecting directly with Mindful Solutions you can reach out via email (, phone (619-353-5139), or book your free 30 minute consultation on our website!

*Although I am a therapist by profession, I am not YOUR therapist. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not replace therapy and does not establish any kind of therapist-client relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information. To see more information about our disclamer(s):

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