Is Healthy Self-Esteem Possible?"Self-Esteem is our self-assurance in trusting our abilities, capacities, and judgments; the belief that we can meet the demands of a task.”
I’d invite you to think about someone you know who you would say is very self-confident. Picture them in your mind’s eye. What makes you know that they are self-confident? You can’t see their thoughts or their inner experience to know how they feel about themselves. How do you know? We can only see how they present themselves outwardly. It must be in their words, how they carry themselves and their actions.
We might think that our outward presentation of ourselves is pretty important. However, how we feel about ourselves inwardly is just as important.
These days, it’s pretty easy to have low self-esteem when we are constantly shown other people’s “happy” and “perfect” lives, which we find literally in the palm of our hands on a minute-by-minute basis. We hear that social media is “just a highlight reel” and not someone’s real life, but somehow it still seems to sting.
I’d invite you to read this article with fresh eyes. Read these words and try to put those comparisons on the backburner, for just a moment, and focus on yourself. Self-esteem is our belief that we can trust our abilities, our capacities and our judgments. We can trust ourselves to perform well and be worthy. Self-esteem is built on the idea that our beliefs in our own inherent value and worth can be trusted. As Christians, we likely know what the Bible says about our worth.
“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.”Psalm 139:13-14
You were wonderfully made—made in God’s own image.
Why don’t we feel wonderful about ourselves at times?
If you feel your self-esteem may be low, I encourage you to first look at your thoughts about yourself. I know that sounds really challenging, but if you pay attention to your thoughts about yourself and your abilities, it could tell us all we need to know about this topic.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”Romans 12:2
So, let’s look at our thoughts for a moment. Our thoughts are very powerful, and we have the ability to refresh them and change the way we are thinking with some focused effort. If you find yourself having self-limiting beliefs (or thoughts), it could be one of the culprits for low self-esteem. Limiting thoughts might sound like, “I don’t, I can’t, I shouldn’t, I am not, that’s too challenging for me.” We all experience this from time to time, but if you assess that this is your normative way of thinking, perhaps we need to change some of those thinking patterns.
I want to list a few accessible ways to do this. I’d suggest the following:
- Take inventory of what you’ve already achieved. By focusing on the way you’ve shown up for yourself and others in the past, you have actual evidence of just how awesome you truly are, and this builds confidence.
- Think about your strengths. You know how people often say “work on your areas of weakness” to get better at life? I would suggest the opposite, actually. God made you to have specific strengths and I suggest spending time honing those and becoming even more confident in those gifts and abilities. While we can grow in our deficiencies, we also have strengths to offer and hone for our communities.
- Make some short-term goals and accomplish them by having an accountability coach and making them realistic. Take a look at these goals on a weekly basis and then on a big picture level evaluate them monthly as well. This will help you pivot and make changes more often.
- Keep working on your positive thinking and self-talk. Check yourself when you hear yourself saying “I can’t.”
- Surround yourself with some cheerleaders who will actually celebrate your success. Sometimes people around us aren’t in the place to truly celebrate our wins. For whatever reason, some people struggle to see you succeed. When you want to build confidence, seek out other confident people who will cheer you along in the big and small victories.
We now know a bit about our inward experience of self-confidence and how to enhance these skills. I’d also encourage you to think about self-confidence through your outward experience. Some say that self-confidence is like a temperature barometer, it goes up and down, based on what we are experiencing in a given day.
For example, if you were to find me on the basketball court, you might think I am someone who lives with low self-esteem. This is because I know nothing about basketball and I’m not very good at the sport. But, if you were to see me in my office, doing my job that I love day after day, you might think I have high confidence. This is because I believe in my worth, my abilities and my gifts in the experience of my job. Therefore, you might find your self-confidence going up and down throughout the day, depending on what you’re experiencing, and that’s OK! The important concept to remember is that you are worthy, and you can build your own self-esteem by being empowered with a little knowledge and some focused effort.
For Further Study:
This PDF can be printed off and worked on individually to build self-esteem.
Kendall is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She received her Master of Arts Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling from Asbury Theological Seminary. Kendall is a Salvationist who loves connecting with people through conversation. She and her husband, Caleb, and their daughter Caroline, live in the bustling city of Atlanta.