The topic of self-esteem has gone through many changes in the world of psychology. Traditionally it was thought that you must increase low self-esteem. This was done in a variety of ways including positive thinking and self-motivation methods. In recent years though, even that seems to be changing as people realize that trying to like yourself is hard. But not only is having high self-esteem hard, I believe that it’s the problem.
Self-Esteem Isn’t Enough
Self-esteem is a a term in psychology to reflect a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth. In other words, the more you like yourself, the higher your self esteem.
The problem is that our self-perception is filtered through our experience. If we write well, we feel good about being a writer. If we sing well, we feel good about being a singer. But if we fail, we feel terrible about being successful. If we fall short, we feel terrible about finishing.
If we use our accomplishments as a measuring stick for our self-worth, it will lead to pride. With the idea of high self-esteem as a catalyst, we should feel good about ourselves when we do well. The more we do right, the better we feel about ourselves. This ultimately leads to pride and self-sufficiency.
Conversely, this mindset enables our failures to lead to low self-esteem. We begin to dislike ourselves and spiral into disappointment and depression.
When self-perception is based on experience, it’s no wonder there is such a huge disparity on how each person values themself.
The Alternative To Self-Esteem
We don’t need to increase or decrease our self-esteem. We need to get rid of it all together. Self-esteem is too fickle a concept to convey the worth and value of each individual.
The only way we can truly love ourselves is by first being loved by another. 1 John 4:19 says that “we love because He first loved us.” We can’t pretend to love ourselves, much less anyone else until we first learn to receive love.
Our self-worth will not truly increase by thinking positively or mastering techniques. We can only rightly see our value from the One who created us.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling good about your accomplishments or feeling bad about failures. But your self worth is not determined by what you do or don’t do. Our value has nothing to do with what we think of ourselves. Our thoughts and feelings are fickle but His thoughts toward us are what give us value.
What were you taught about the idea of self-esteem?
How else is the performance-based mentality detrimental to our self-worth?