What is The Difference Between Self Esteem And Self Actualization?

woman showing her self esteem and self actualization

So, What is the Difference Between Self Esteem and Self Actualization? You must have seen Maslow’s hierarchy of needs before searching for it. The moment this question strikes your conscience, is the one that will lead you towards enlightenment. These are two related terms that relate deeply to human psychology but different in meaning. Knowing your potential and valuing it is a step you take before putting your efforts given you have realized what your worth is. That’s what it’s all about. Let’s put these terms into order to know what separates Self Esteem from Self Actualization.

Definitions of Self esteem and Self actualization are altering with time


Man is a social animal; According to Maslow’s Hierarchy, Self-Esteem and Self Actualization are the last two stages of human needs. Self Esteem is the preliminary phase to self-actualization. It’s only after fulfilling the early four needs can you achieve the level of self-esteem. These needs are physiological, safety, belonging and love, and social needs.


Self Esteem Maslow Definition: According to Abraham Maslow, Self-esteem needs refer to your desires to have a stable and realistically positive evaluation of yourself. 


Real-life example: You can say it’s where you tend to value yourself in the first place. You can help someone if you help yourself first. Be strong to be able to help others.


Maslow’s Definition of Self-Actualization: Self-actualization represents the highest-order motivations, which drive us to realize our true potential and achieve our ‘ideal self.’


Real-Life Example: It’s the highest stage in Maslow’s model. Consider yourself to have acquired all the luxuries you needed to survive. You eventually have reached the phase where you can feel content and stable. It’s the time when you look forward to participating in social acts. You are strong enough to provide help to others using your resources and wisdom. 


What is the Difference self esteem and self actualization?

  • Self-Esteem: To value and recognize yourself.
  • Self-actualization: To be able to do the same for others.

Key Difference – Self Esteem vs Self Actualization

Though Self Esteem and Self Actualization are interconnected but the latter cannot be understood without the former. The former relates to reflecting your own evaluation while the latter, fulfillment of your talent and potential.


To reach the final tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs, you need to reach the initial tiers first, just like a ladder. The following segments amicably answers what is the difference between self esteem and self actualization.

What is Self Esteem?

Self esteem, in simple words, is accepting yourself as you are in all walks of life, regardless of what people perceive about you. You tend to have achieved this tier of needs when you value yourself and believe in your potential rather than what people reckon. Self-esteem is an important way to realize your value in relationships whether formal or informal.

  • Self-esteem provides you with a belief in everything you do (remember, that you need to have self-confidence first).
  • Self-confidence helps you develop a healthy mindset that leads you to self- motivate yourself to reach ultimate fulfilment of desires.
  • Self-esteem has a direct relationship with your overall well-being, including the ones who surround you.

Traits of Self Esteem

You tend to realize self-esteem when:

  • You start avoiding dwelling on your previous negative experiences.
  • Expressing your concerns and needs
  • Start feeling confident.
  • You don’t feel obliged to say yes to everything. (It’s good to say no sometimes).
  • Accept yourself the way you are.

What is Self Actualization?

Going upwards in the tier of needs comes self-actualization, which emanates your desire of fulfilling your aspirations. It’s a need that’s present in everyone. Reaching this tier also indicates that you have achieved every level of conditions and are contented to see others as you see yourself. Regardless of gaining benefits from others, you tend to feel happy and contented in whatever you do hence accepting your mistakes and achievements.

Signs of Self Actualization

  • Feeling satisfied in everything you do.
  • Neglecting the negativities.
  • State of fulfilling every desire.
  • Feeling compassion for others
  • Making efforts for disadvantaged people.

Self Esteem vs Self Actualization

Though Self esteem and self actualization are related the major difference between self esteem and self actualization lies is in their basic meaning. Self esteem reflects your own evaluation or worth while through self actualization, you tend to realize or fulfill your talents and potential. In a shorter answer, the latter process drives you to take action.

What is the Difference between Self-Esteem and Self Actualization

  • Self-esteem is the overall subjective evaluation of your own self, while Self Actualization is fulfilling your potentials and turning your thoughts into actions.
  • Self esteem in the initial phase of learning your true potential regardless of other’s perception of you.
  • Self Actualization is fulfilling your aspirations and treating others as you treat yourself.
  • Self esteemed people tend to respect others’ opinions and being respected in return.
  • Self-actualization makes you more creative and stronger.
  • Self esteem makes you believe more in yourself and sensitive towards your feelings.
  • Self Esteem means to accept who you are; self actualization means accepting the world as it is and offer your best to yourself and others.


Real World Example of Self Esteem

You can take examples of Self esteem through many different scenarios to understand it better.

Roger Federer, the world’s tennis player had once believed in himself, he practised and kept focus on his game. Despite having injuries and setbacks he strove to keep up his performance.

Real World Example of Self Evaluation

Roger Federer being dedicatedly consistent in his game, has reached heights. He has opened his sown tennis academy to help kids follow their dreams, eventually fulfilling others’ dreams. Once you achieve your dreams and find true satisfaction, you can only hope to shape others’ lives. I hope now you have understood What is the Difference Between Self Esteem and Self Actualization.