As difficult as it may be to recognize or admit, many of us struggle to one extent or another with a low sense of self-esteem. If this is you, you’re not alone – it is part of our human nature.
So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27
We are made precious in God’s image and yet we doubt our own value. It’s not merely a modern struggle either – we see it in historical writings, as well.
This article will discuss the basics of self-esteem and share some tips for improving self-esteem. We’ll look at Scripture to see what God has to say about our value and look at quotes from wise teachers and leaders on the subject.
What exactly is self-esteem?
Self-esteem, at its most basic, is what a person thinks of themselves. It generally develops sometime in childhood, and this view of ourselves developed in childhood can be carried with us throughout life. Trauma, relationships, comments from others, and many other factors can influence our self-esteem.
No area of our lives remains untouched by our self-esteem. It influences the food we put into our bodies, the relationships we choose to engage in, our free-time activities, our work – everything! Study after study shows the value of strong and healthy self-esteem.
Those with low self-esteem may develop depression and/or anxiety. They may struggle more than others with unhealthy habits and self-destructive or addictive behavior. Low self-regard may also manifest more subtly, in ways that others might not notice. In fact, it is often the people who appear to have it all together who struggle the most with low self-esteem. It is often difficult to know how others are truly doing in this regard.
Folks with strong and well-developed self-esteem are more likely to have healthy relationships, accept praise and recognition humbly, and they tend to be less afraid of setbacks or conflict. They’re more likely to ask for help and to take feedback in stride.
Tips for building self-esteem
This is literally a million-dollar subject. Walk into any bookstore and you’ll see countless books on the topic of “how to build self-esteem.”
Turn on late-night TV and you will find it flooded with infomercials and talk shows on the subject.
Here are some basic tips that are at the foundation of any good teaching in this area. Start with one and see how it helps you.
Identify the root of your low self-regard
It can be particularly helpful to identify and process the personal stories from which these beliefs emerged, in order to dismantle those beliefs and develop new ones.
Recognize how your struggles manifest
This is a key component and can take some work. When you identify how you behave when you’re feeling low, you can help to change those behaviors into positive ones, which can then impact the way you feel about yourself.
JournalingWriting about moments in your past that you know impacted your view of yourself can help you to see these moments in a new light and work toward healing from them.
Thanking God for the good things in your life – even something as small as a beautiful flower you saw on a walk – has proven to be incredibly helpful, and can begin to train your mind to see the beauty both around and inside of you.
Undoing a lifetime of habits, thinking, and behavioral patterns is demanding work. A Christian counselor can walk alongside you and help you in the journey.
Even gentle exercise like a good walk can be helpful. We are fearfully and wonderfully made and were created for plenty of movement. Our stationary lives do not fit the way God designed our bodies to work. Not only is it good stewardship to care for our bodies, but studies also show it changes how we view ourselves.
Look to the Bible and at Christians over time
As mentioned above, humans throughout time have struggled with this area. Look at Scripture and at the journals and writings of God’s people throughout time. These can provide insight into how others have found their value in God and overcome negative thinking, shame, and toxic thoughts about themselves.
This gives you a chance to give back out of the abundance of what God has given you. It also gives you a chance to meet others who you would probably not have encountered otherwise and to see a different way of life. Volunteering also helps to give you a place in the world and a way to contribute which can have profound effects on the way you view yourself.
MeditationChristian meditation practices invite us into a different kind of stillness and conversation with God, one in which we submit to God as our healer and listen to Him speak directly to our hearts. Your counselor or a spiritual director can help you find the practice that is best for you.
If you’re a parent looking to help your child build up a healthy view of themselves, these tips may also help. Remind your child often that you and God love them unconditionally. Find ways to talk to them to build them up rather than tear them down. Let them experience the natural consequences of their mistakes. Kids who have been bullied or who are already struggling with low self-worth may benefit from counseling as well.
What the Bible says about our value to God
God knew this would be something people would struggle with, which is perhaps one reason why we see so many references in the Bible that remind us of what God thinks about us. Keep these truths in mind.
- You are a beloved child of God.
- You are wanted, loved, and here for a reason.
- Nothing you do can separate you from God’s love.
- The Holy Spirit dwells within God’s children.
- God sees His children as treasures, precious one-of-a-kind-jewels, products of His own workmanship.
- You cannot earn God’s love – it is a gift of grace.
- God’s love for you is such that He sent His Son to die for you, that He might be in forever relationship with you.
God loves us with no restraint and no doubt. Look at these verses to remember that. You may wish to write some out on index cards and place them around your home.
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 139:14-15
Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:31
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
This is challenging work that need not be done alone. Feel free to reach out and we can help you work through your past, discover practices which feed your soul and work together on building self-esteem.
“Self Esteem”, Courtesy of Pawel Czerwinski, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pink Flower”, Courtesy of Tavin Dotson, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Lavender Flower”, Courtesy of Sharon McCutcheon, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pink Flowers”, Courtesy of Ethan Robertson, Unsplash.com, CC0 License