Returning to Alex’s comment, I want to address the question of high self esteem/low self love.
“How similar is self-esteem to self-love? As I ponder this, the more I think about the construct of self-esteem the more I see it aligning with the ego. I’m not suggesting this is a bad thing but I can see how high self-esteem could hide some of the symptoms of low self-love. Perhaps there’s a difference between high self-esteem and healthy self-esteem.”
The “high self-esteem” Alex is referring to I would characterize as an expression of the false Self.This is the act you put on, hoping to have a desired effect on others – and usually it is based upon not feeling good about yourself, as you are. So, yes, “high self esteem” (note the quotation marks) is an attempt to hide low self love.
One way to know if the person you are with is putting on such an act is to pay attention to how you feel with them. If, while they are feeling so “good” you become aware that you are feeling somewhat badly about yourself in comparison, then their “high self-esteem” is probably not genuine. This kind of self-presentation usually is not relaxed or calm, and has an edge that can leave you feeling a bit unsettled.
Real self esteem (no quotation marks!) is not an act. It doesn’t take effort or strategy or secret techniques. It grows from within you, based upon the genuine acceptance you have for yourself. Emphasis on the word genuine: you can’t fake self-acceptance. If there are parts of yourself that are difficult to like, try to have compassion in those areas.