Why You Shouldn’t Work on Building Self-Esteem

This is something I have been teaching for over five years. It’s one of those small distinctions that makes a BIG difference when you understand it. Here is how I discovered what I’m about to share, and what it means for you.

I always look up words in an etymology dictionary. An etymology dictionary is a dictionary of word origins. It gives the oldest (and purest) meaning of a word. When considering self-esteem we must consider what that really means; we must consider its etymology.

To esteem something is to “appraise the value of something”.   How does one appraise something? It is done by comparison, judgment and standards. For example, when appraising a car we compare it to other similar vehicles, we judge the market and, subsequently determine its worth. We esteem the car to be of a certain value and price it accordingly. We do this with ourselves too. We see ads, movies, magazines, girls at school, women at work, etc. and we judge by comparison our value. We see the standard of perfection in our society, and we fall short. Our self-worth suffers, and, consequently, is constantly shifting.

This is why I hate the term “self-esteem”.

When we seek for self-esteem we are unknowingly seeking our value based on comparisons.

So what should we seek for?

Here is the beauty I discovered.


I LOVE this word because. . .

The word worth comes from a root that means “To Become”. We are talking about potential here. Can you measure a person’s potential? NO. You cannot. You have no idea what a person is capable of! We see the limits of humankind pushed all the time, the barriers of the mind and body broken by those willing to pay the price to break them. This is who we are–PURE POTENTIAL. And THIS is what I encourage everyone to seek after—SELF-WORTH. Seek to develop your potential. Potential is not based in comparison, judgment or standards. Potential just IS. As you actualize potential you automatically gain confidence because it takes courage to act in ways that make you grow.

If you want to increase your feelings of worth, learn something, create something, do something that will make you stretch and grow. And when you’re done don’t judge the outcome. Instead, relish in the fact that YOU DID IT. Enjoy the fact that you did something you’ve never done quite that way before. You’ve added something to yourself. You now have more to offer, by experience.

Focus on self-worth, not self-esteem. See if the shift helps you feel better about your life.