Have you ever felt like your self-worth rises and falls based on external factors like what others say about you or how much you achieve? That rollercoaster ride can be exhausting. What if you could cultivate an inner sense of self-esteem that remains stable despite life’s ups and downs? That’s what intrinsic is all about.
Unlike regular self-esteem, which depends on external validation and achievements, intrinsic self-esteem comes from within. It means you appreciate yourself for who you are—your core qualities, values, and humanity. You accept yourself as imperfect but worthy, without conditions. Developing it isn’t easy, but it’s a game changer. It gives you an inner strength and stability that no one can shake. Here’s why intrinsic self-esteem matters and how you can start to build it.
Table of Contents
What Is Intrinsic Self-Esteem?
It means valuing yourself for who you are—your core qualities, values, and personality—rather than basing your worth on external factors like achievement, appearance, or what others think of you.
When you have it, you appreciate yourself for the person you are, flaws and all. You don’t need constant validation or reassurance from others to feel good about yourself. Your sense of value comes from within.
Some signs you have intrinsic self-esteem:
- You accept yourself as you are instead of trying to please everyone else.
- You don’t take failure or criticism personally. You see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
- You value your own opinions and don’t worry too much about what others think of you.
- You pursue goals and activities because they are meaningful to you, not to impress people.
- You surround yourself with people who appreciate you for who you are.
Why does intrinsic self-esteem matter? Because when you value yourself unconditionally, you stop seeking approval and self-worth from external sources. You become less worried about judgments and perceived flaws. You gain confidence from knowing your worth isn’t defined by what you achieve or how much you produce.
In short, intrinsic self-esteem gives you inner strength and stability that no one can take away. It allows you to live according to your own values and find purpose and meaning on your own terms. And that, my friend, is true freedom. Focus on nurturing your self-esteem, and you’ll build the foundation for a happy, fulfilling life.
How Intrinsic Self-Esteem Develops
It develops from within. It comes from accepting yourself for who you are, flaws and all. As kids, our self-esteem is often shaped by the opinions and praise of others, like our parents and teachers. But as we get older, we start to realize that basing our self-worth on what others think isn’t sustainable.
To build it, you have to challenge negative self-talk. That critical little voice in your head that says you’re not good enough? Tell it to pipe down. Replace messages of self-doubt with messages of self-compassion. Learn to accept yourself as you are instead of trying to be someone you’re not.
Practice self-care. Exercise, eat healthy, engage in hobbies, and pursue your passions. Taking good care of yourself will boost your confidence from the inside. Surround yourself with a strong support system of people who appreciate you for who you are. Their positivity can help reinforce your own.
Stop seeking validation. Don’t rely on compliments or accomplishments to make you feel good about yourself. Your worth isn’t defined by what you achieve or how much praise you receive. Learn to appreciate yourself independently of all that.
Building intrinsic self-esteem is a journey. But by learning self-acceptance, tuning out your inner critic, nurturing yourself, and surrounding yourself with unconditional support, you’ll develop an inner strength and confidence that no one can take away. Focus on being your authentic self; that’s the surest path to inner peace and self-esteem.
The Difference Between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Self-Esteem
Intrinsic self-esteem comes from within—it’s based on your own evaluation of yourself rather than what others think of you. Extrinsic self-esteem, on the other hand, is shaped by external sources like social media “likes,” material possessions, accomplishments, and praise from others.
1. Focus on Your Strengths and values.
Build intrinsic self-esteem by focusing on the qualities and values that make you who you are. Think about your strengths, talents, and the relationships that fill you with purpose. Pursue hobbies and interests that you find personally fulfilling. Engage in regular self-reflection to gain insight into your values and priorities. Make choices that align with who you aspire to be.
2. Don’t Seek Constant validation.
While receiving compliments feels good, relying on the approval of others for your self-worth is fragile. No amount of likes or praise can fill an inner void. Learn to appreciate yourself for who you are, not what you achieve or acquire. Avoid excessive social comparison and don’t measure your own worth by unrealistic societal standards.
3. Practice Self-care.
Take good care of yourself through adequate sleep, nutrition, exercise, and limiting unhealthy habits. Engage in relaxing and rejuvenating activities that you find meaningful. Spend time with supportive people who love you unconditionally. Be kind to yourself and avoid harsh self-criticism. Meeting your own basic needs builds the foundation for intrinsic self-esteem.
Intrinsic self-esteem provides inner strength and stability. While extrinsic sources may temporarily boost your confidence, intrinsic self-esteem is sustainable. Focus on nurturing your relationship with yourself through intentional self-reflection and by aligning your life with your deepest values. Choose to appreciate yourself for the qualities that make you uniquely you.
Why Intrinsic Self-Esteem Matters
Intrinsic self-esteem matters because it’s the foundation of your self-worth and how you view yourself. Unlike extrinsic self-esteem, which relies on external validation and praise, intrinsic one comes from within.
1. You’ll Feel More Confident
When your self-esteem stems from your own approval and not what others think of you, you’ll feel more confident in yourself and your abilities. You won’t second-guess yourself or constantly seek reassurance. You’ll trust your own judgment and make decisions that align with your values.
2. You’ll Take More Chances.
With a solid sense of intrinsic self-esteem, you’ll feel comfortable taking risks and going after what you want. You won’t be held back by self-doubt or the fear of what others might say if you fail. You’ll see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow rather than a reflection of your self-worth.
3. You’ll Feel More Content and At peace.
Intrinsic self-esteem leads to feeling comfortable with who you are—strengths, quirks, flaws, and all. You’ll cultivate self-compassion and learn to appreciate yourself for who you are rather than who you think you should be. This deep sense of inner peace and contentment is invaluable.
4. You’ll Be Less Swayed By Criticism
When your self-esteem comes from within, you’ll be less bothered by criticism and judgment from others. You won’t feel the need to please people or win their approval. Other people’s opinions won’t shake the foundation of your self-worth. You’ll be able to consider feedback objectively and make your own peaceable determinations about what resonates with you.
In summary, intrinsic self-esteem provides stability, resilience, and inner calm that allow you to live according to your own values and pursue a life that is meaningful to you. It gives you the freedom to appreciate yourself for who you are, and that is worth cultivating.
Signs You Have Strong Intrinsic Self-Esteem
If you have strong intrinsic self-esteem, you value yourself for who you are, not what you achieve or what others think of you. Your sense of worth comes from within, not from external sources. Here are some signs you possess this inner strength:
1. You Accept yourself.
You know you’re imperfect, but you like yourself as you are. You don’t dwell on perceived flaws or mistakes. You recognize you can’t please everyone, and that’s okay. You accept yourself, warts and all.
2. You Don’t Seek approval.
You don’t rely on praise or validation from others to feel good about yourself. While compliments are nice to receive, your self-worth isn’t dependent on them. You do things because they matter to you, not to impress people or gain popularity.
3. You Have Healthy boundaries.
You know your limits and don’t feel guilty about saying “no.” You spend time with people who treat you with kindness and respect. You don’t let others take advantage of you or make you feel bad about yourself. You value your own needs and priorities.
4. You Learn From failure.
You see failures and setbacks as learning opportunities rather than reflections of your self-worth. You maintain a growth mindset, believing you can improve and do better next time. You pick yourself back up after stumbling and try again. Your sense of self isn’t shattered by mistakes or losses.
5. You Pursue Meaningful goals.
You have a purpose that motivates and fulfills you. You pursue goals, activities, and relationships that are personally significant to you. Your direction in life isn’t dictated by what others want for you or by what society says you “should” do. You follow your own inner compass.
Intrinsic self-esteem is a quiet confidence from within. It’s a deep appreciation for yourself that isn’t easily shaken by life’s ups and downs. Developing this inner strength and self-acceptance is a journey, but the rewards are well worth it.
How to Build Your Intrinsic Self-Esteem
Here are few ways to build up your self-esteem.
1. Focus on Your strengths.
Identify things you are good at and pursue them. Make time for hobbies, activities, and projects that you find meaningful and engaging. When you do things you are skilled at, it builds your competence and confidence from the inside out.
2. Accept Yourself
Learn to appreciate yourself for who you are, flaws and all. Avoid harsh self-criticism and negative self-talk. Be kind to yourself and avoid unrealistic expectations of perfection. You are a work in progress, so acknowledge your weaknesses but do not dwell on them. See each mistake or shortcoming as an opportunity to learn and grow rather than a reason to beat yourself up.
3. Do Not Seek approval.
Do not let your self-worth depend on what others think of you. While it is nice to feel appreciated, basing your intrinsic self-esteem primarily on praise, compliments, and validation from others is not healthy in the long run. You alone are responsible for how you view yourself.
4. Set Boundaries
Do not be a people-pleaser. Learn to say “no” when you need to in order to avoid overwhelm and resentment. Take care of yourself first before pouring into others. Make sure to also set boundaries with social media and limit time spent comparing yourself to others or seeking external validation.
5. Practice Self-care.
Make sure to engage in regular self-care to maintain both your physical and mental health. Prioritize sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and limiting unhealthy habits like substance abuse. Also, set aside time for stress relief through activities like yoga, meditation, journaling, or whatever works for you. Your self-esteem will thrive when you feel good in both body and mind.
In summary, the journey to intrinsic self-esteem requires patience, practice, and persistence. But by nurturing your sense of purpose, accepting yourself, setting boundaries, and engaging in self-care, you can build your self-confidence from the inside out.
Activities and Exercises to Boost Your Intrinsic Self-Worth
To build your intrinsic self-worth, focus on activities and exercises that reinforce your inherent value and strengths. Some options to try:
1. Practice self-compassion.
Speak to yourself with encouragement and understanding. Notice negative self-talk and reframe it into something kinder. Say things like “I’m doing my best” or “Everyone struggles sometimes.” Be gentle with your imperfections and mistakes.
2. Do things you’re good at.
Engage in hobbies, sports, crafts, or other pursuits that you have a natural talent or skill for. Set small goals and acknowledge your achievements. Take pride in developing mastery and expertise in areas that you excel in.
3. Help others.
Volunteer your time or skills for a good cause in your community. Make a positive difference in people’s lives through random acts of kindness. Helping people in need is a great way to boost your self-confidence from the inside out.
4. Love yourself.
Learn to appreciate yourself as you are instead of chasing unrealistic societal standards of beauty or success. You are enough, just as you are. Practice self-acceptance through affirmations, journaling, or talking to a therapist. The more you embrace your authentic self, the less you’ll rely on external validation.
5. Do estimable acts.
Set small goals and acknowledge when you achieve them through rewards and words of praise. Accomplishing tasks, chores, errands, and obligations builds a sense of reliability and productivity that fuels self-worth over time. Start with basic things like making your bed each day or taking out the trash. Celebrate all wins, big and small.
Building intrinsic self-esteem is a journey, not a destination. By engaging in regular exercises and activities focused on self-compassion, values, and strengths, you’ll develop an unshakable appreciation for who you are, regardless of your perceived flaws or weaknesses. With practice, your inner critic’s voice will quiet while your inner cheerleader’s voice grows stronger.
Common Roadblocks to Developing Intrinsic Self-Esteem
Here are common roadblocks we met while developing this self-esteem.
1. Comparing Yourself to Others
It’s easy to scroll through social media and feel like everyone else has it all figured out. Their lives seem perfect while you struggle with self-doubt and uncertainty. But social media only shows curated glimpses into people’s lives. Comparing yourself to the facades others choose to present will only damage your own self-esteem.
2. Negative Self-Talk
That critical voice in your head can be your own worst enemy. Do you hear thoughts like “I’m not good enough” or “I’ll never measure up”? This type of negative self-talk erodes your intrinsic self-esteem over time. Make an effort to notice negative thoughts about yourself and reframe them into more constructive ones. Speak to yourself with encouragement and compassion.
3. Lack of Self-Care
When you’re burned out, depleted, and stressed, it’s difficult to value yourself. Prioritize rest, nutrition, movement, and downtime—your intrinsic worth depends on it. Make self-care a habit, and be gentle with yourself when you fall short. Every small act of self-care builds your resilience and self-esteem.
4. Praising Outcomes Over Efforts
Did your parents or teachers primarily praise you for achieving certain outcomes, like good grades or awards? While these accomplishments are important, focusing too much on outcomes can link your self-worth to what you can produce or achieve. Effort, growth, and progress are also praiseworthy. Look for ways to celebrate your efforts and persistence, not just your successes. Your worth isn’t defined by any one outcome.
5. Lack of Boundaries
If you struggle with saying no, you may end up overwhelmed by commitments that deplete you. Learn to set boundaries compassionately. Your time and energy are limited resources, so spend them on things that truly matter to you. Saying no when you need to is an act of self-care that will strengthen your intrinsic self-esteem.
With awareness and practice, you can overcome these common roadblocks and develop an internal sense of worth that isn’t dependent on external factors. You have intrinsic value, and you deserve to see yourself that way.
Extrinsic and intrinsic self-esteem are two types of self-esteem that reflect how people evaluate themselves based on external or internal factors. Extrinsic self-esteem depends on approval, recognition, or rewards from others, such as grades, popularity, or appearance. Intrinsic one comes from within and is based on one’s own values, beliefs, or goals, such as personal growth, autonomy, or integrity.
Both types of self-esteem can influence one’s well-being, motivation, and behavior, but intrinsic self-esteem is generally more stable and adaptive than extrinsic self-esteem.
- Extrinsic and Intrinsic Contingent Self-Esteem and Materialism: A Correlational and Experimental Investigation BY Tania Nagpaul, Joyce S. Pang (a Research Article, in 2017 / https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.21009) published in Wiley Online Library
- Societal Expectations and Inner Desires: The Complex Dynamics of Motivation – Youtube video
Let’s Boost your self-growth with Believe in Mind
Interested in self- reflection tips, learning hacks and know thyself with ways to calm down your mind; We offer you the best content which you have been looking for.
Your privacy is important to us