6 min read

Building Self-Esteem for Personal Growth

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Greetings OHI community; what a wonderful season is upon us. The days are getting longer but not yet hot, which makes it a great time to spend more time outside with the new leaves and fragrant flowers. Spring is a time of renewal and new life making it the perfect time to work on our own personal growth.

You may recall from our January newsletter, I wrote about personal growth: what it is; why it's important; the areas of your life on which to focus your attention; and how to achieve it. In this issue, I will dive deeper into personal growth by focusing on one of the most important aspects of all: self-esteem; because if you don't love yourself, personal growth is nearly impossible. With that in mind I offer the following verse:

And the second [greatest commandment] is...: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:39

God commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves, which means we must first learn how to love ourselves.

I have guests who come to me for counseling. Some have asked me how they can boost their self-confidence. After a brief discussion, I am usually able to determine that they are mostly asking about how to boost their self-esteem. Self-confidence and self-esteem can appear to be the same to those looking on from the outside. On the inside, they can evoke similar feelings which is why people get them confused, but they are fundamentally different.

Self-Confidence Vs. Self-Esteem
Self-confidence is a person’s belief about their skills, abilities, and control over specific areas of their lives. Self-confidence comes from knowledge and practice. Confidence comes from the Latin word for trust, and in essence we trust our abilities.

Self-esteem is how people see themselves on the inside; their self-worth. Self-esteem comes from self-care and self-perception. Esteem comes from the Latin word to appraise, value, or rate; and it is all about how we value ourselves.

One way to see the differences between the two is to look at their opposites. The opposites of self-confidence are fear and ignorance; and the opposites of self-esteem are a lack of self love and self-worth. 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

What is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is frequently defined as self love; but what does that really mean? It is mostly about how you view and feel about yourself. Do you see yourself in a positive or negative light? Positive self-esteem means you don't criticize yourself. And, it means that when someone puts you down, you don't take it personally, you know your own value which renders someone's insults or bullying remarks meaningless. It also means you are resilient to setbacks; you don't see failure as a personal flaw and that you just need to keep trying or rethink your strategy.

How Self-Esteem Is Formed
Initially, for those who are fortunate, self-esteem is formed in loving households by caring parents who nurture and encourage it. This is accomplished by supporting and praising their children. These children are raised to believe that the world is a good place. In time the child becomes an adult who will naturally surround themselves and interact with the type of people they know best: loving and supportive people who maintain the positive environment that person is accustomed to, and enables them to preserve and perpetuate their strong sense of self-value.

Unfortunately, many parents have their own doubts and fears and these are passed down to the child. The stronger a child's sense of self the more resilient they will be to the hurts and disappointments they encounter as they grow up and enter society. Enough wounding, however, and a child's self-esteem will diminish, and at some point someone will criticize them, tell them that they are no good, and inside their head they will agree.

Why It’s Important to Have High Self-Esteem
One of the best reasons to have high self-esteem is because it allows you to be yourself. You are relaxed and approach life with poise and self-possession. You don't fear reproach and you don't disguise yourself with phony personas. You don't compare yourself to others, and you have no need to be perfect. You don't need approval; you can be your authentic self. 

High self-esteem also improves interpersonal relationships. You have empathy which means that disagreements do not upset you. You are able to explain your points rationally, and you are willing to hear the other party's point of view.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7

When you have high self-esteem you are not afraid of uncertainty. You accept that you are fallible; and you recognize that you don't have to know everything. As I mentioned earlier, you are resilient. You don't fear change; and you're willing to embrace challenges. You are highly motivated and have a strong desire to succeed. 

When you have high self-esteem you are more likely to enjoy good mental health, a sense of purpose, and clarity in your thinking. You are also more likely to have good physical health because you will be less prone to stress related health challenges; and because you will more likely take better care of your body.

Low Self-Esteem Can Negatively Impact Health
On the other hand, low self-esteem can lead to feelings of insecurity, depression, and anxiety. People with low self-esteem are less able to handle the daily stresses of life which can make them more susceptible to some health challenges. Low self-esteem can lead to poor eating habits, substance abuse, and other risky behaviors that can affect their health.

People with low self-esteem spend a great deal of time in worry and doubt including having a negative outlook on the future. It makes them fear failure which prevents them from trying new things or exploring opportunities. They have trouble asking for help, yet at the same time they are people pleasers who don't know how to set boundaries and allow others to take advantage of them. All the while, comparing themselves to others which make them feel like more of a failure.

Improving Your Self-Esteem
Working on your own self-esteem is a great way to grow personally; you begin improving your self-esteem by setting your intention to do so. Understand that it takes practice and focus. For example, notice when you slip into negative self-talk and reverse that thinking immediately by praising your positive qualities. Find or create an affirmation or two that you can relate to, and then memorize it, so that you can instantly call it up to shut down negative thoughts.

Stop comparing yourself to others; it's toxic! Their background is different from yours and so is their life path. The only measurement you should be considering is your own success. If you don't like the story you are telling, then change it.

Forgive yourself for making mistakes, no one is perfect, it's time to be fair and realistic about them. Allow yourself to accept compliments and praise - enjoy it - you earned it. Start accepting yourself for who you are - flaws and all - focus on what makes you unique and celebrate your individuality. 

What makes you feel happy, valued, and proud? Those are the areas of your life to keep in the forefront of your mind. Keep a gratitude journal to record all the positives in your life. Then whenever you're feeling down open it up and read about all your accomplishments and happy moments. 

Practice self-care such as taking care of your body with proper sleep, nutrition, and exercise; enrich your support group by spending time with friends and family; keeping your mind active with stimulating as well as leisure activities; finding healthy ways to process your emotions by acknowledging and feeling them; and nurturing your spirit with meditation and prayer. 

Come to OHI and take our Self-Esteem Class and join our supportive community in a safe and sacred place. In our Self-Esteem class, you will learn how self-esteem is formed, how low self-esteem can impact health, and how to build self-esteem for personal growth. 

Come to OHI in this Spring! 
The sun is shining and the flowers are blooming, this is a great time to start working on boosting your self-esteem. Plan a trip to OHI and enjoy all our classes while connecting with like-minded people who understand you and your goals like no one else. Call us to book your reservation today: (800) 588-0809

Here’s wishing you health and wellness in this spring season.

Yours in prayer,

Robert P. Nees, Jr.

Senior Pastor and Chairman

OHI San Diego and OHI Austin