Understanding Self-Concept and Self-Esteem: A Guide for Everyone

In the realm of psychology, few topics are as essential and relatable as self-concept and self-esteem. These terms are tossed around, often misunderstood or oversimplified. Let’s dissect them properly.

  • Self-concept: understanding of who you are
  • Self-esteem: how much you value yourself

Self-Concept: What Is It?

Self-concept is the perception that individuals have of themselves — it’s who you think you are. This view includes everything from your beliefs about your appearance and abilities to your values and relationships.

Components of Self-Concept

  1. Physical: How you perceive your appearance, strength, and body functionality.
  2. Social: Your perception of how others view you and how you fit into social groups.
  3. Competence: What you believe about your abilities and talents.
  4. Moral: Your understanding of right and wrong and where you fit on that scale.
  5. Personal: Your individual and unique characteristics, separate from others.

Self-Esteem: More Than Just Feeling Good About Yourself

Self-esteem is often misunderstood as merely feeling good about oneself. It’s more nuanced. Self-esteem is the evaluative component of self-concept; it’s the judgment you make about your worth and the emotions tied to those judgments.

Self-Concept and Self-Esteem: How Are They Connected?

While self-concept is an understanding of who you are, self-esteem is about how much you value yourself. A positive self-concept doesn’t necessarily lead to high self-esteem. You might recognize your talents but still feel unworthy.

  1. Positive Self-Concept but Low Self-Esteem: A talented artist who recognizes their skill but feels unimportant or undervalued.
  2. Negative Self-Concept and Low Self-Esteem: A person who sees themselves as unskilled and feels unworthy because of it.

Improving Self-Concept and Self-Esteem

Understanding these terms is the first step to improvement. Self-awareness, setting realistic goals, meditation, seeking professional help if necessary, and practicing self-compassion are paths to cultivating a healthier self-concept and self-esteem.

Self-concept and self-esteem are more than buzzwords; they’re the backbone of our psychological existence. Understanding them and recognizing their intricate connection can lead to a more fulfilled and balanced life.

Further reading: What Is Self-Concept? by Kendra Cherry, MSEd


  1. Rosenberg, M. (1979). Conceiving the Self. Basic Books.
  2. Maslow, A. (1970). Motivation and Personality. Harper & Row.
  3. Branden, N. (1994). The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. Bantam.
  4. Fennell, M. J. V. (1998). Overcoming Low Self-Esteem. Robinson.

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