As we’ve continued to undertake this challenge, one thing that I have felt led to share about is the issue of low self esteem and I’ve been asking myself,why is it that we’re struggling?
As you all know, we dedicated the month of February to having God transforming our minds and we’re now on #day17 (yaay!)
So what’s going on?
Its really simple; its an issue of identity crisis.
In psychology, self esteem refers to an individual’s sense of his or her value or worth, or the extent to which a person values, approves of, appreciates, prizes, or likes him or herself (Blascovich & Tomaka, 1991).
A person with a low self esteem lacks confidence in themselves and their abilities, doesn’t think they’re good enough and feels that they are not worthy of anything good happening to them. Such people feel unlovable, unwanted and awkward.
The roots of low self esteem, I believe can be traced back to one’s childhood. Ideally, every child should grow up in a loving environment with BOTH parents being present and actively involved in raising their children. Children need affirmation and security in order to be whole.
Unfortunately, life happens and what I’ve described isn’t the case for many. A number of people grow up in dysfunctional families with parents who are physically and emotionally unavailable. As children, some of us faced rejection, humiliation, abuse (physical, verbal, emotional, sexual) by family members, some endured bullying by friends and were compared with other children and made to feel like they weren’t good enough.
Sadly we grow up not realizing the impact that such traumatic childhood experiences had on us.
How do I know that I’m suffering from a low self esteem?
- Struggling with shame and guilt
- Not feeling worthy of any good thing happening to you.
- You also struggle to receive compliments.
- Lack of confidence in yourself. You believe that everything that happens to you is due to luck and not as a result of your hard work paying off. Another sign is constantly giving up on goals and dreams before you start.
2. Body language. Did you know that dragging one’s feet, slouching shoulders and the inability to hold eye contact while having a conversation are signs of a low self esteem?
3. People pleasing : Always going out of one’s way to do stuff for others even when it’s uncomfortable for you. An example would be backing down from an argument in order to avoid agitating the other person even when you strongly feel that you are right or constantly apologizing even when you’ve done nothing wrong. Such people are always walking on eggshells and will be careful not to rock the boat.
Seeking validation from others is also a sign of low self esteem. A lot of people will live their lives to impress others by spending money they don’t have and doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing in the first place just to be accepted.
4. Lack of boundaries : According to Huffpost, boundaries are the physical, emotional, and mental limits we set with others that determine what we will, and will not, accept. People with poor or no boundaries find it difficult to say ‘No’ because they fear being abandoned. Having healthy boundaries means learning that its perfectly fine to say no without feeling guilty of feeling like you have to explain yourself.
It’s important for everyone to have boundaries clearly spelt out in order to ensure that others are aware what we are not willing to put up with.
5. Tendency to be critical and pessimistic. Because of being so used to negativity, it’s difficult for a person with a low self esteem to see the good in anything. Many times they will put others down in order to feel better. On the flip side, they are not too good at handling criticism and will often take react emotionally to any comment that is deemed to be an attack on them.
6. The tendency to be withdrawn and avoid getting too close to people. They build up walls so that people don’t get too close to them because they don’t want to get hurt.
7. You are not assertive. A lot of people with low self esteem struggle with making simple decisions because they do not trust themselves.
8. Lastly, there are those that hide their esteem issues by hiding behind fancy clothes, hair and makeup. Dressing up acts as a temporary reprieve that makes them feel good about themselves and masks how they really feel about themselves. Women with low self esteem will struggle to leave the house without makeup.
How do I overcome this?
Its key to note that this is an attack of our minds because it is as a result of lies that were introduced to us and were allowed to grow and take root. Therefore it will take time to deal with them.
We can however overcome this by:
- Learning to affirm from the right sources. Receive your affirmation from God and stop trying to seek the approval of men in order to feel good about yourself. The best way to do this is by reading the Bible and meditating on it and with time, the lies that have long been a part of us disappear (John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.)
- Finding a support system that can walk with you. In order to overcome low self esteem, one has to open up to a trusted group of people about their struggles and walk the journey with them. Its easier to walk with people than to do it alone as you get to encourage each other. It also helps obe realize that they are not alone.(Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT)
- Develop healthy boundaries in ALL aspects of your life and learn to speak up when someone violated the boundary that you have set for them. Read books on this topic in order to learn how to set and maintain boundaries. I’d highly recommend the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud for anyone struggling with establishing boundaries.
- Learn to love and take care of yourself. Be easy on yourself and do not beat up yourself too much over failures. Learn to treat yourself by taking yourself out just because you can. Learn to relax and savour each moment that life has to offer.
- Take time to do things that you enjoy everyday.
- Forgive those who contributed to your low self esteem. Holding on to grudges hampers your ability to heal.(Colossians 3:13 NKJV :Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.)
- Learning to be grateful. Everyday, find something to be grateful for in order to transform your mind into positive thinking. Learn to be grateful for every milestone made, no matter how small it may seem. Also surround yourself with equally positive people. (In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV)
- Seek counselling services in case you feel like you need professional help with dealing with the past.
- Write in a journal. writing is therapeutic and will enable you to process your thoughts and feelings.
As I conclude this post I pray that this will be the year that anyone struggling with a low self esteem and any other issue affecting their mind will truly find freedom and live a wholesome life. However, such freedom can only be found in Christ and you have to be born again in order for Jesus to transform your mind according to His Word.
If you would like to allow Jesus come into your life and allow Him to begin to transform you, please say this prayer out loud.
Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner in need of your forgiveness. I believe that you died on the Cross and rose again and by doing so you paid the ultimate penalty for my sins. I invite you into my life to be my Lord and Savior and to have your way in my life. I thank you that I am now a new creation. Amen