I answered this question on another site, then thought it fitted well here.
The question was: What is more important: what others think of me, or what I think of myself?
Why should one be better than another? The fact is that from my perspective, both are largely illusory.
First: What I think of myself. How do I arrive at this valuation? Normally it is by my own impression of what “significant others” think and thought of me, in particular during my childhood. It is unusual for anyone to do any kind of accurate appraisal of themselves, or even to inquire closely into their choice of valuation criteria – which, again, is usually found upon dissection to be inherited from parents, family, society, etc.
Second: What others think of me. Narcissists should look away now! – I have bad news for you. As far as other people thinking of you are concerned, you barely have a bit-part in the story of their lives (This wonderful turn of phrase is, of course, taken from one of DC’s essays). Most people are so preoccupied with how they appear to others that they have little time or energy to really LOOK at you. Basically, your importance to them is dependant on the degree that you help or hinder them to feel as if they are maintaining THEIR image as they would wish.
Of course, we all hope that our parents and family are exceptions to this rule. Let’s hope. I suspect that for most of us the exception is only partial.