Today, I have decided to share something very personal to me and about me concerning self-esteem. My hope is that others reading might benefit from what I share or know someone who could benefit. I personally suffer from depression and much like an addiction; it’s a daily regimen of recognizing and facing it. I have dealt with depression all of my adult life, usually I can recognize the precursors happening and prepare myself to appropriately deal with when situations present themselves but there are still times I am taken by surprise. Along with my depression comes periodic bouts of low self-esteem, making me question my worth and my value. I struggle with listening to my positive inner voice at times, not accepting myself or assuring myself that I am a good person and I matter. When this happens I seek out things and people to valid my personhood and my value, this is not a healthy choice but sometimes I feel like I have no control over it, it consumes my thoughts and I just react. I have found that having strong and healthy relationships help tremendously. By far, the best thing I have done to help myself understand my depression is to see a licensed therapist and renew my relationship with God. God has always been a huge part of who I am I just got to a point of being lazy at being a Christian. Finding a church and congregation that feeds me spiritually on a weekly basis has been amazing! Now, with that being said, we all know people who are the extremes of “high” self-esteem and those with “low” self-esteem; the “high’s” are often referred to as “Egotistical” and the “low’s” as “Pathetic” this meaning that most people fall into the middle somewhere. These extremes are a huge deal for the individuals that suffer from LSE (Low Self-Esteem); they have a constant need to be reassured that they are lovable. Everyone has a basic need of believing that they are lovable and that they are loved. Individuals that suffer from LSE are anxiously unsure of themselves and likely even question if they are lovable. One of the main ways people try to find an answer to this question is to look to others, hyper-vigilantly watching the others’ behaviors, listening to their words and tone of voice, mentally recording the ways that person acts toward them, even keeping score of what they think works and doesn’t work. Desperately seeking reassurance that they are lovable, those with low self-esteem look outside themselves and at the behavior of those closest to them, to find answers to the question of being lovable. Then, if the person who professes to love them/care for them, does not act in ways that they think would indicate this, LSE sufferers either:
- Tries harder to please in order to win love and attention.
- Become angry when they feel something is being withheld from them they need/want.
- Feel they must be deserving of this treatment (or perceived treatment) and conclude that they are indeed, unlovable.
Finding this explanation unbearable to fully conclude, however, they continue to vacillate between depression and anger toward themselves or the person from whom they want affirmation. Unfortunately, much of the disappointment LSE sufferers have toward the significant other/friend is the result of their own insecurities and their neediness that demands constant reinforcement, their unreasonable expectations, their irrational storytelling, and an inability to look at their own issues. On the other hand, all too often those with LSE choose partners/friends who are similar to the people who created their low self-esteem—possibly their parents—who may have withheld love and affection, had low self-esteem themselves, or in other ways did not meet their needs as children. Such partners/friends are unable to give of themselves in ways that are warm, nurturing, and loving as they also feel depleted or feel such nurturing is unnecessary. Overtime as people go through the recovery process, they come to believe in their own assessment of themselves rather than “needing” to seek the appraisal of others.
Tips to Increase Your Self-Esteem
- Act as if you were confident! You will feel more confident.
- Focus on who you are and what you like about yourself. Why do your friends like you?
- Prepare thoroughly for any task so that you can be sure you are ready. Knowing that you have prepared well will make you better able to cope with anything that may come up.
- Work on any skills you need to do what you want, you can never be over trained or over skilled for any challenge in life.
- When you come to challenging and difficult moments relaxing will enable you to control your negative emotions and project more positive ones. Breathing is one aspect of this that is so important because controlling your breathing controls your body’s reactions to what’s going on around you. *See relaxation exercises below.
- Always smile and stand up straight. Your posture and smile will project confidence and you will feel better able to cope with anything. You will also find that others respond to you better and this will give you an added boost.
- Set reachable goals for yourself and break difficult tasks into smaller steps. You will be able to believe that you can achieve your larger goals if you can see the clear steps towards it and know that you can be successful by taking these smaller steps.
- Reward yourself when you succeed no matter how small the achievement. Remind yourself that you are moving forward with determination and that you are one step closer to achieving your goal.
- Do not be too competitive or compare yourself with others. Be yourself and accept that life is not a race against others but your self-esteem depends on you and your personal needs. Set your own standards and allow yourself to overcome challenges at your own pace.
- Control your breathing – you should breathe from the stomach not from the chest. Using on your breathing helps you to relax and stop the body’s panic reaction.
- Relax your muscles – start with your face muscles and then neck, shoulders, back, arm, chest, buttocks, leg muscles and tell each muscle to relax one by one. When you have relaxed your muscles you are sending a message to your brain to stop any panic reaction that your body produces. This will calm you down and help you to think more clearly.
- Relax mentally – when you breathe in think calm and when you breathe out think release negative thoughts. You may also hold a positive and inspiring image in your mind to further help you relax.
What Does the Bible say about Self-Esteem
Song of Solomon 4:7 ESV “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.”
Psalm 139:13-14 ESV “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
1 Samuel 16:7 ESV “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
In closing, I would like to say that God has blessed me beyond measure with loving and caring friends and family, they love me when I feel unlovable. And, although my friends occasionally call me out when I am too needy or too insecure; I know that it is only because they love me. I am reminded that I alone control my feelings, if I feel sad or low it is a result of my choosing…I don’t like hearing the truth at times, but it is the truth. I need to respect and accept the answers or lack of answers I receive when asking questions. I pray that this information has been helpful.
Blessings & Peace~
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