Restore Your Self-Esteem

Written by Claire Colvin

life_restoreesteemIt is amazing what we accept as truth if we hear it enough times.

Has this ever happened to you:

You take a risk and get a drastic haircut. You look fabulous. You leave for work the next day in your favorite outfit feeling like a million bucks,  You think “I’m so glad I did it, I love it!” You step into the elevator at work and someone turns to you, frowns, and says, “Oh, you cut your hair, what made you do that?” Your hand goes to your hair and you’d give anything for a hat. You feel terrible. Why did you have to go and cut your hair?

Self-esteem is an issue for many women and in these days of ultra-thin models and SuperMom expectations it shouldn’t surprise us. What is surprising is how quick we are to accept another person’s judgement and how serious our lack of faith in ourselves can become. For me it started during high school because of a group of four or five guys who told me that I was stupid and ugly every single day. I believed them.

It didn’t matter that I came from a home where both parents still loved each other and there was a steady supply of love and encouragement. It didn’t matter that my grades were excellent and that I had a best friend who had stuck by me since third grade. I was told that I had no value and I believed them with all my heart. My self-esteem was at an all time low and it almost killed me.

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem can be hard to define. More than just feeling good about yourself, taking pride in your accomplishments or liking what you see in the mirror, self-esteem is concerned with the way we judge our own worth. In his book Foundations of Psychopathology, Dr. John Nemiah defines self-esteem as the “ability to look upon yourself as having value.”

We tend to look at the equation backwards. We think that how we look dictates our level of self-esteem when in fact it is our self-esteem – our ability to see ourselves as having value – that dictates how we react to the face in the mirror.

Impact of low self-esteem

As my confidence faltered and my self-esteem withered away I stopped talking in class, in groups, or in the hallways. I dreaded lunch hour, never stepped foot inside the cafeteria and the thought of class presentations literally made me sick. I withdrew and stopped smiling altogether.

Convinced I was worthless, I stressed over every test and paper even though my grades were consistently excellent. My whole life revolved around being as invisible as possible. I thought that I couldn’t get hurt if everyone forgot I was there. The situation continued and I needed a way out. I couldn’t imagine anything that could help me. Because I saw myself as the problem, I began seriously considering suicide. I wasn’t dreaming about an escapist fantasy, I was frighteningly practical. My experience is a common one.

Do you have suicidal thoughts? Read Scott’s story of finding hope.

Low self-esteem and depression

Low self-esteem does not necessarily lead to depression but studies have shown that the two often go hand in hand. In fact the World Health Organization (WHO) uses low self-worth in its description of depression. 1 Low self-esteem makes you your own worst enemy. Thoughts of “if only I were prettier, if only I was good at sports, if only I was funny or popular, if only I was strong enough to fix this” crowd out everything else. Even if we receive praise, the voices inside our own heads discount it. Like Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman “the bad stuff is easier to believe.”

The symptoms of depression are often internalized, and so the problem may be dismissed as unimportant, hormonal, or just a part of growing up. The WHO has found that, worldwide “fewer than 25% of those suffering from depression receive appropriate care”. 2 It is critically important to pay attention to low self-esteem, especially in teenagers where suicide is in one of the three leading causes of death. 3 Even as adults low self-esteem can affect performance and advancement at work, make us a reluctant partner or a ineffective parent. Low self-esteem affects every part of a person’s life. It is overwhelming.

Healing

For me, things did not improve so halfway through grade eleven I transferred to a different high school. The insults stopped but I still had to face myself, running wasn’t going to fix that. Recovering a sense of self worth takes more than a change of scene, it requires a change of perspective.

The summer of that year I attended a conference with a group from my parent’s church and found answers in the last place I would have expected. At the conference I came to realize that God loves me very, very much. Here, finally, was a lasting source of value I could fall back on. I had a sense of self worth to build on and the healing could begin.

The world is a scary place when you stop liking yourself.

Now I had hope. I had learned about God as a child, but just trying to survive had consumed me and I had long since forgotten about Him; God had not forgotten about me. During my second year of university, I came across the verse in the Bible that is one of my favorites,

“I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:9&10)

Who am I? What a terrifying question when you don’t like yourself very much. Now I have an answer: I am a woman loved by God. You can say the same. You matter to God. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you. You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Saviour and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.

If you invited Jesus Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.

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90 Responses to “Restore Your Self-Esteem”

  • tom g says:

    to art wells whether you read this or not. you were important enough to respond to. i wrote many chapters on lies told in churches , someday i might write more or a book. it takes patience and i dont want to hurt anyone. i to have been rocked around in the church, and one good thing it did for me was to learn to study which helped me. i could go on and on about abuse but we dont even know if a lot of these people in church know christ, i sure hope you do.there is only one that i cant find fault with and that is jesus. he was not a lover of the religious authorities of his day and eventually they showed their true colors , and you to he will do the same to if you believe in him. he never told us to trust man. man can never take the place of god and remember its god that brings vengeance, and yes, we will see that when he returns till than put your eyes on the bearer of good news not on those bringing bad news, their day will come. hey i kinda know how you feel but not all christians, i mean real ones , are like the ones the group you came out of are like. remember what i said ,jesus warned us about wolves coming in not sparing the flock. look to the cross where your sins were put away and i will see you in heaven.

  • Elkay says:

    Thomas, I think that praying for a heart that sees people as Jesus saw others is a remarkable sign of healthy self esteem. If you look in Scripture at how Jesus responded to people, He was always ready to give of Himself, His time and His energy, for the betterment of whomever God put in His path. Even when He dealt with the Pharisees, He was really trying to get them to see the errors of their ways. That’s what loving your neighbor means.

    “Heavenly Father, I pray that You will give Thomas a heart that sees people as You do and that Your Spirit will lead him and energize him to love them as You do. Thank you for his desire for such a heart. This prayer is offered in Jesus’ powerful and holy name. Amen.”

  • thomas g. says:

    i sent wrong email first time this is my real email adress well ther goes my self esteem!

  • thomas g. says:

    unbelievers, not to get off track, pick up on our problems some days and many are jealous at christians.they judge as the pharisees, their way or else.put on gods confidence and realize these battles start in our own hearts. many will say you are woderfully made, but if like me you get tired of scripture bandaids, though its true. you just long for those people that arent so wordly minded always trying to appear perfect but inside they really are scared to death you may expose their armour. ask god for a heart that sees all people as jesus saw them, not after the flesh and by the way you are a pretty woman.self acceptance and not conforming are gifts and we need to be ourselves in christ. god is pleased with that and he, in the end will take care of your enemies dont try to be perfect things can only get worse because our expectations and the expectations of others are to big. yes find freind who like you!

  • Kathryn Kathryn says:

    It’s good to hear that this article and the comments are helping some readers.If anyone is still struggling with self esteem issues please remember you can always sign up to have your own mentor on this site. At the top of the page on the right, just click on the button that says “talk to a mentor”. Keep the comments coming in. Thanks

  • Daniel says:

    Thanks for writing this, I’ve had some stuff happen in my past that hurt my self esteem. I will follow your advice.

  • Sharon says:

    to Shelomech good comment I am not sure God is our self esteem I think he heals our broken lives and HE wants people to have a good self esteem I too suffered for years I still do a little bit of low self esteem but God has restored my self esteem and is healing me God does heal the broken hearted I pray for your complete healing too. for God to restore you to HIS joy and salvation so you can have peace and joy that passes all understanding– sharon

  • Shelomech says:

    For a very long time, I was confused, by the theology and doctrine of the church stating that “God is our self-esteem, self-esteem is a new age theology” and ect. but I do suffer greatly from low self esttem! If Christ came to heal the broken-hearted? then how could not feeling decent about oneself be so bad? I am glad to find your site and continue wholehearted my healing journey to wholeness and peace. Thank you.

  • Elkay says:

    Kelly, thank you for your post as we are blessed when an article helps someone. I had very bad acne as a teen and one day at school, the teacher asked me to stand up and show the class what a really bad case looked like. My self-esteem died that day and had a very bad effect on my dating future.

    Many years later, now, I have great solace in the proclamation found at 1 Peter 2:9 that assures me, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” So I praise God for His grace towards all who feel themselves over whelmed by low self esteem.

  • Kelly says:

    Thanks Claire, that article really helped me, especially the being scared part.

    Kelly

  • Spartan Fan says:

    Shelley, I also think self-esteem issues affect men in ways that many people don’t realize. I am sure it is harder as a woman, with all of the images in the media, but it definitely impacts both sexes. Good article.

  • Elkay says:

    Fred H, thank you for your comment as we are pleased whenever an article is helpful to someone. Actually, you are not “someone” . . . you are a human being created in God’s own image and are so valuable to Him that He sent Jesus to provide the means for us to live eternally with Him through Christ’s atoning death on a cross. Translating this into positive self-esteem begins by ensuring that you are in a right relationship with God by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. If you are unsure about this, trusted mentors are freely available to help you and they can be reached by hitting the “Talk to a Mentor” button near the top right of this web page. May God bless you today with exactly what you need today!

  • FredH says:

    Thanks so much for this. I have been looking for useful self-esteem tips.

  • Kate says:

    Words can hurt and they can help to heal. What does God say about you?

    “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

  • Rosetta R. Clark says:

    Well Said, these blog is very helpful, thank you for sharing, I hope you continue to help others.

  • Cece says:

    It hurts me to hear of so many people that are scarred by the negative and harsh words spoken over them. Words have a long lasting effect on our lives than we know. This video helps to raise awareness of the importance of speaking wisely and how to overcome the scars of verbal abuse.

    https://youtu.be/WFc3JEjVh-M

  • Chris says:

    art Wells…really sorry to hear what supposed christians had told you. jesus warned us of them in several places in scripture….Matthew 7.15 to 20, Matthew 18 and Matthew 23. that is why God has left us his words so we dont have to be fooled by peoples words. i encourage you to read the new testament of jesus. you will find him having the greatest love for you anyone ever could. he showed it by dying for you too! John 15.13 to 15. i pray jesus console your soul and heal the wounds perpetrated by those who dont know him!

  • art wells says:

    I hate all humans; especially christians. If I could I would go back in time and kill Jesus myself! I was raised in the Nazarene church and they told me over and over that I was a worthless sinner going to Hell. This is from the age of birth to the age of 16 when my parents finally let me drive myself to a Baptist church. Too late, damage done. I hope the Taliban and ISIS kill all Christians!!! Im now in my 40s and have no self esteem, bipolar, depression, PTSD, and become psyhotic just thinking about you christians. I hope you all die and go to Hell like you told me I was going to do as an innocent child. Oh, I forgot, we are born in sin and die in sin and are going to Hell.

  • Kathryn Kathryn says:

    Sharron, so glad you found the article helpful and thanks for sharing. I love it when people say it like it is.
    Vanessa, I was sad when I read your comment. I know what you mean about the kind of church which tears people down, maybe unintentionally because after all, we know that Jesus humbled himself to become like one of us but on the other hand, those in leadership should also teach the balance between humility and confidence in the Lord to be the people He has created us to be. At 55 you still have a whole lot of life left to you statistically speaking and so there is still time for you to discover exactly what His will and purpose are for you. I did not really discover mine until I was getting older and I can tell you, it’s really exciting when you do discover the gifts He has given you and then learn to put them into practice for His glory. Then we see the fruit and you don’t need me to remind you what the fruit of the Spirit is. I am still concentrating on a couple of those like self control and patience…. So Vanessa, don’t give up, don’t get frustrated, get together with some believers who will encourage and build you up so that you can be the person He meant you to be and know His peace and joy which passes all understanding. Let us know how you get on. Ok?

  • Vanessa says:

    I struggled all my life with some amount of self esteem…do to abuse from my dad. But always was able to push threw because I had something I was good at. But I came to a church that had a concept that we dont want anyone to be prideful so there was never codos to anyone it was always general great job group efforts….and very good at exposing your faults…so youd be more like Christ.Im 55 my kids are grown and I have the worst self esteem ever…I feel I have nothing to look forward to,Im a mere average life sucking air and waiting for my time to be over….I think the church is the worst at giving and supporting people and giving a healthy self esteem.

  • Sharron says:

    Thank you so much for this article today. My God is an ontime God and I had just read Hebrews 10:35-36 and was asking him for more and he directed me to your article. To God Be The Glory for Always Loving Me Just as I am.

  • Sharon says:

    good article thank you for posting this good article

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