OBJECTIVES: To explore the notion of Patient-invested Contingent Self-Esteem (Pa-CSE) and investigate its association to nurses' self-reported engagement in controlling or autonomy-supportive interactions with chronic care patients. BACKGROUND: Considering the high number of patients sub-optimally managing their chronic condition, nurses might experience a drop and rise in self-worth when patients fail and succeed, respectively, in managing their chronic condition. This dynamic has not received prior research attention. DESIGN: Multivariate analysis employing cross-sectional data according to STROBE guidelines. METHODS: Self-reports among nurses employed in chronic care (N=394) from eight randomly selected hospitals in Belgium. Exploratory factor analysis and stepwise linear regression analyses were conducted. RESULTS: Success-based and failure-based orientations could be distinguished and refer to nurses' tendency to associate, respectively, patients' successes with feelings of professional success and self-worth and patients' failures with feelings of professional failure, shame, and inadequacy. Nurses' self-esteem is fairly interwoven with patients' achievements in the management of their chronic condition. A success-based orientation was positively related to autonomy-supportive care in case a failure-based orientation was low. Nurses with a simultaneous success-based and failure-based orientation interacted in a more controlling way. CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study suggest that basing one's self-worth on patients' accomplishments may be a double-edged sword. Although tying one's personal glory to the successes of one's patient is related to greater patient participation and support of autonomy, these effects only emerge if nurses' self-worth is not interwoven with patients' failures. In fact, having both success- and failure-oriented contingent self-worth is related to a more pressuring approach. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: To prevent nurses from developing inferior professional feelings when their patients fail to manage their condition, a reflective stance towards the impact of patients' behaviour on the nurses' professional feeling of (in)adequacy is an important step to deal with such situations.