The Stranglehold of Fear
Self-Worth or Self-Esteem?
Many often confuse the two terms which seem to be used interchangeably, just like “feelings” and “emotions.” The fact is many are searching for real self-worth and not self-esteem.
Self-esteem is really self-impression and self-esteem is defined by external peer pressure. Have you noticed how many are constantly changing their appearance based upon current fashion fads? This materialistic trend isn't a true understanding of self-worth or self-esteem.
Finding one's true identity is one of the most basic needs of humanity. Everyone desires a sense of self-worth, to feel accepted, and valued. To meet this desire 2 basic needs must be met, significance and security.
Not surprisingly, men and women both differ in the two. Primarily, men long for significance, while women desire security. Self-worth concerns understanding one’s identify.
However, there are differences between self-worth and self-esteem. Self-esteem is how we regard ourselves, based on ways the world reacts to us. Self-worth determines how we interpret and express self-esteem surrounding circumstances in our lives. Self-worth determines our beliefs about ourselves, thus the actions we take.
Most of us are seeking self-esteem and self-worth whether we know it or not. The problem is most of us don't know the difference.
We may not fully understand what they mean, but they impact almost every aspect of our daily lives. How we function in the workplace, and deal with people. How much success we are likely to achieve, who we are likely to fall in love with, and interact with family and friends.
It's not a perfect world, therefore we should expect not all self-esteem is healthy. Some of our biggest problems come from unhealthy self-esteem. Troubled relationships, depression, anxiety, fears, stress, and other antisocial behavior.
Studies have shown high self-esteem usually results in positive, desirable traits, while low self-esteem is often associated with many negative ones. Humans have a deep-seated need for love, belonging and acceptance. But to fulfill these needs we must believe we are worthy of them.
Why is it difficult to attain healthy self-esteem? Self-esteem and self-worth are not tangible, physical things one can touch and feel. However, how we think, feel and understand things are constantly changing.
Low self-esteem affects every aspect of your life. It shows in how you look and interact with others. Also, if you have a low opinion of yourself you may suffer from depression and have health issues. Let's look at a few symptoms:
Constantly putting yourself down.
Always apologizing and taking blame for things not your fault.
Noticing every slight imperfection in yourself.
Not able to simply accept a compliment.
Fear of trying new things and getting out of your comfort zone.
Having a hard time looking others in the eye.
Constantly seeking approval from others.
Always expecting the worst.
We aren't born having low self-esteem, it's something we gain through life experiences. Bad experiences can make one doubt oneself. Clearly, associating with those having negative attitudes should be avoided. They could be parents siblings or spouse.
For example, dwelling on a negative idea, such as you'll never succeed, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you have low self-esteem you are probably your own worst enemy. Negative comments of others have a habit of staying with us long after they were made.
How to Raise Self-Esteem
It didn't happen overnight, and it won't go away quickly either. Remember, focusing on negative things is the most basic problem. Therefore, wouldn't focusing on the positive have an opposite affect? Low self-esteem is something you’ve learned, so it’s also something you can unlearn.
What is a person's self-esteem?
Self-esteem is a form of spiritual state, a spiritual infrastructure, on which a person's spiritual forces are created. It can be either negative or positive. Positive energy raises self-esteem. Negative energy, lowers self-esteem.
For example, a little girl might frequently be told she is pretty by parents and friends. That might be fine and well, but if heard often enough, she may grow up believing her only value lies in her physical appearance. But what happens when she becomes a teenager and develops blemishes? Her self-esteem is shattered. This might explain why there are so many cosmetic companies. Unfortunately, too many base their self-esteem upon the way they look.
For others, self-esteem is based upon what they can achieve. When personal goals are met one tends to feel good about themselves. However, when they aren't, well, you get the picture. You meet the goals you set for yourself, you tend to feel good about yourself. When you fail to reach the goals you set, you tend to feel bad about yourself. Is there any way to break this up-and-down cycle?
There are problems with our concept of self-esteem. First, it's not biblical but something developed in the minds of men. It's based upon our perceptions of ourselves and is subject to change. The value of an individual shouldn't fluctuate with every change in personal circumstances or day-to-day.
Appearance, achievements, or material possessions don't determine an individual's value. Neither does what others think about you. Our material world is flawed and societies' views of beauty are far from realistic. We should be striving to understand our own value.What you’re worth to God never changes. You are worth the life of His only Son. Philippians 2:8 says this:
“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Never doubt your value to God. Those who don't know God have no true idea of their self-worth. For them, self-esteem comes from whatever the world tells them. Often what we mistake as self-esteem is simply pride. The Bible tells us pride in itself is sin.
“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate (Proverbs 8:13).
God doesn't love us because we are perfect. He hates sin but loves the sinner. Knowing we are sinners doesn't diminish our self-worth.
God places value upon us and demonstrated this by sending Jesus to die on the cross for you. Jesus didn't come to make people feel good about themselves. He simply told sinners to go sin no more. Jesus wasn't battling low self-esteem. His fight was against Satan and sin.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23).
Knowing we are precious to God, should be our beginning foundation. Secular self-esteem techniques dismiss God and therefore don't produce lasting results. God's plan involves seeking ways to help others.
In short, those who consider interests of others over their own are more likely to feel loved, accepted, and good about themselves.
However, we must remember we can do nothing to earn favor with God. The simple fact is we are undeserving of His grace. It is He that saves us from our, sinful state. The facts show helping others can be beneficial to us, but the motive should never be to win God’s favor.
Reject negative thinking. Everyone makes mistakes, because we are human. However, that isn't a valid reason to deliberately sin. We should choose our friends carefully, spending time with those who don't criticize or condemn others.
Even if it seems everyone hates us, we should remember we are loved by God. Many hated Jesus, but that didn't stop Him from living a godly life. He knew God loved him. Nothing can change our value to God.
In God's Word we find the true worth of human beings. Christian confidence should rest totally upon the work of Christ. A proper understanding of how Christ's death on the cross affects us gives us a good perspective of what contentment, humility, and affirmation should be.
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