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.


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.

95 Responses to “Restore Your Self-Esteem”

  • Shelley says:

    Dear Father God

    Lord I lift up my sisters to You at this time in there lives, that you will bless them as Your children reaching out that you have created and formed them from there mother’s womb. I pray that You will help them to feel important to you first. In Jesus name amen

  • Christine says:

    Dear Elizabeth,

    As black girls we suffer from a lot of insecurities especially when we are teenagers. I am 27 now and I can tell you that your story reads exactly like mine – difference is that I am from Kenya. I had low self confidence, I found my skin too dark, I found myself too skinny, I even had (have) buck teeth lol. I can laugh at this with all sincerity coz I got over that. I am still all these but so much more, I know I am beautiful, I feel beautiful because I love ME. There can only be one ME as there can only be one YOU. Concentrate on knowing your worth, I wish had some scriptural references, but right now, I am just being real. LOVE YOURSELF and trust me it gets easier past high school. You must also eat healthy hun, no more fatty foods – trust me, your skin will start showing what you are putting into your body. Eat healthy, do some exercise, search the net for more info on how to add/maintain weight in a HEALTHY way. As for the comments from peers on being gay – just let those slide off your back. I got my first boyfriend at 21 which might be a bit old by normal standards but I was ready then. You know you are not gay so just let it be, the more you protest the more they will think you are and you seem to know you aren’t so who cares. I will pray for you my dear, remember you’ve got a friend in Jesus and someone many miles away is praying for you.

  • I’m glad that i found this because now i feel better and loved. I’m a fifteen year old black girl. And i felt the same way you did in high school. Ever since my first freshman year in high school i’ve been bullied by a group of girls and called gay. I knew i wasn’t gay but people constantly spread the lies and soon almost every one in the school believed it.I’m now starting to believe the reason everyone thought i was gay, was because of the way i nervously walked in school,but i use to think i was ugly and that no one would wanna be my friend. I made a few friends but i was always shy and i still am. I later started putting on makeup and stopped eating foods that i thought would make me fat, so i could feel beautiful and loved, and i worked. But i don’t feel became and still is a habit for me to for once stop worrying if a piece of cheese will make me fat and for me to look at mysel
    f for once without makeup. One of my biggest habits is looking stuff up on the internet.i mostly been looking up stuff about loosing weight ,even though I’m really skinny because i worry I’ll get fat when I’m older if i don’t start eating healthy now.i also been looking up information about how other races and people from other countries would feel about me, because i feel like if i move out of America then i would be loved more,but i later became depressed after reading how other races think black women are ugly and that even black men hate black women.I’m even a huge fan of Japanese culture , but now scared and worried of being called ugly and the N word there.i just wanna be happy see that I’m god prized creation but without the makeup and stuff.But it’s hard and i’ve been giving myself strong headaches. Im stating to pray to God for help in loving myself no matter what i look like or do,but i still worrying in life. But when i dream of Jesus and read scriptures like the one you listed above (Isaiah 41:9&10) i feel better.i’m glad i saw that scripture because now i feel Gods love rushing through me.And if your reading this comment, can you prayed for me to love myself and that i read the bible more especially Isaiah 41:9& helped feel better right now and so did God????????

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi feeling, I am sorry that no one has responded to your comment.

    Conflict amongst brothers and sisters in Christ can be awfully hard to deal with. So often we try to hide it rather than respond as Jesus instructed us to in Matthew 18:15-17. We are called to speak the truth in love to one another (Ephesians 4:11) and allow Jesus to be the sinews that bind us together (Colossians 2:19).

    I know it can be a scary path but I encourage you to go to the one who was hurt by you and talk about what happened. Find out how your words were hurtful and ask for forgiveness. Pray together and ask Jesus to bind your hearts together in unity. Don’t let bitterness and fear take root in your life. That spreads a destructive disease through the whole Body.

    Lord God I pray for this person and ask that You would help bring healing and unity to this relationship. Help them all to come together in humility seeking to meet the needs of the other. Guard them from the destructive path of self-centredness. Amen.

  • feeling like i suck at everythg says:

    Lately, I feel like a suck at ‘everything’ I have these thoughts that completely bombarde me to bring me down. Even though I know that God lifts us up, I feel like lately He is only reprimanding me. The effect is causing me to withdraw.
    My pastor called me recently to tell me another member of our church complained about me. This has ‘never’ happened before ever! But since, I have had really bad dreams about him not being happy with me. Apparently, I said something that did not go over so good. I apologized, and felt terrible, it was an honest mistake and I promised him it would not happen again. But I felt so bad from it, that I do not even want to go to church now. I just feel like I can do nothing right, and should not converse with anyone ‘ever’ because I do not know how to.
    Im actually afraid of him now. I feel like he is not happy with me, and I feel so ashamed that he would have to reprimand me, and what a fail I am because of this. I just don’t know how to trust this guy again.

  • Sharon says:

    to Maria- thank you Claire, good comments to Maria for me what works is to say I chose to love myself and for others to appreciate you and say so

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Maria,

    I think one of the most helpful things to begin with was to change the way I spoke to/thought about myself. I really tried to pay attention to thoughts like, “I can’t do that” or “it’ll never work” or “I’m not good enough” or “I can’t” and replace them with more optimistic thoughts. You would be amazed how often we think negative things about ourselves when our esteem is low. I had to practice being nice to myself. (Weird right? But it worked.) I also tried to celebrate the things I did well and include something in the week that was an activity I was good at to show myself that I was good at things. It was not a quick process, but it happened over time.

  • Maria says:

    Great article. Wouldn’t mind more on this experience and how you over came your struggles with self-esteem issues. Thank you for sharing and your faith is admirable.

  • Jacqueline Darville says:

    Hi, I am looking to overcome severe low self esteem but am not sure how to go about this. I feel it is beginning to take over my life.
    I have been through a very traumatic childhood, had to cope with my parents splitting up when I was 12 years old, a violent childhood with my father suffering from a mental illness. My mother doesn’t show any love and puts her relationships with men who often appear to be abusive, more than her children. Had to cope with being forced into a sexual relationship with my ex best friends father. I lack confidence and don’t see anything positive about myself. I am in a part time job, looking for full time work, struggling to afford to look after myself. Have recently passed my driving test which Made me feel very happy but the next day, my mother decided to have another go at me over various issues.
    4 years ago, I fell in love with the most amazing guy, who is forever supporting me and paying me compliments but i don’t see what he tells me. He is the only person I can talk to and who appears to care for me.
    I want to overcome this lack of self esteem in order to achieve more in life and be able to find a better job and afford a car so that I can move up in life. Please can someone advise me on what I can do to help myself.

  • Karol says:

    I support the Article writer and everything is about God, not us and he should be glorified…if you think it is your doing to overcome and you claim to know God that is a wrong doctrine i love it when people bring out things with biblical support not just typing
    “Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise
    Your glorious name.”
    1 Chronicles 29:13

    “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify
    Him with thanksgiving.”
    Psalms 69:30

    “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His
    love endures forever.”
    Psalms 118:1

    “And whatever you do, whether in word or
    deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
    giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
    Colossians 3:17

    “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually
    offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of
    lips that confess His name.”

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Alan, It’s not up to you to dictate the length of the comments on this site. Sometimes a longer comments is exactly what is needed. (And as a courtesy, we’re not girls, we’re adults.) You’re welcome to believe what you like about God, but so am I, and I will continue to bring God up in my own story because he plays a huge role in my story. When you’re writing your own articles you can feel free to include or exclude whatever you like. When I’m writing my articles on my site, I will do the same.

  • Alan says:

    Rebecca does have a point, not everything is about God so maybe you should not have confused/included God/path to God in a low self esteem article. Cause yes it might won’t be entirely convincing for those who does not believe in them. Anyways girls pls just keep it short ok, don’t need to be so long-winded :-D

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Rebecca, I must have missed the part of my comment or my story where I suggested that every decision of my life is made for me by God. If you’ve read that in my comments here then I have not expressed myself very clearly. I do not believe in a God that directs people like robots (or one that provides parking spots – if God was in the business of deciding for other people wouldn’t his time be better spent ending wars or world hunger?) I’m not sure how you expected me to react to a statement like “you obviously find no value in yourself”. I’m trying to imagine how that could be read as a non-combative statement.

    Open-mindedness does, as you correctly noted, refer to being receptive to new ideas. When you use words like “fixated”, “naive”, and “delusional” then I hold to my contention that you have formed a fairly specific view on God rather than remaining open-minded. I’m not saying that having an opinion about God is a bad thing – I clearly have an opinion about him myself – but it’s not logical to have an opinion and claim to be remaining open-minded about the issue at the same time.

  • Rebecca says:

    This is going to be my last ever comment on here, I know you’re completely completely going to miss my point of view, however brief it was. I think it is better though to leave you all in your naive and delusional view and i hope for your sake, Claire, that proof of ‘God’s’ nonexistence does not ever come to pass.

    Read into my quotation of the word ‘God’ what you will. You cannot as I cannot to you, tell me what I do or don’t believe or what I mean by my beliefs. That is not to say that i don’t know. In my opinion, my open mindedness relates to the ‘possibility’ hence the ‘quotations’ of there being a ‘God’ or ‘God-like’ ‘being’, regardless of which religion that ‘being’ originated. Proof for you may come in a dream in your sleep, and that’s fine, however if I listened to my most vivid dreams, the ones that seem so real, so impossible to be purely from myself then it surely would be interesting to see where I would be right now. To me ,though,this is merely a naive approach to life.

    I could debate with you for days and days ahead about the existence or non existence of ‘God’, however I do find that those who are fixated in their beliefs, are open to nothing else and it is like to me having an argument with a brick wall. Quite honestly, i don’t care about how you live your life. This is your blog, your views. I thought, i’d just through an extra opinion in the mix, while you all seem to be wound up in revolving your life around a mere possibility, and basically giving this possibility the credit, or not so much the credit, but basically everything you are, everything you are going to be.
    To me, it is irrational to have this being, basically just as an excuse. For example, something in your life doesn’t work out :the response; God mustn’t have wanted this to happen, you drive to the supermarket and there is a free car park right in front of the door; response; oh ‘God’ must have been feeling awfully generous today. Milk prices go up; ‘God’ must be slowing milk production in cows for a very good reason (wow creative example right there). Is there any part of your life that you take responsibility for yourself?

    While I find your last response condescending I would not have expected anything less. I find that the majority of religious people i have met, many being from my own family, put themselves up high on the pedestal compared to everyone else who they believe are naive and ultimately stupid for not believing in ‘God’, but each to their own.

    I’ll leave you with this: an official definition of open-mindedness just for your benefit.Open-mindedness is receptiveness to new ideas. “Open-mindedness relates to the way in which people approach the views and knowledge of others, and “incorporate the beliefs that others should be free to express their views and that the value of others’ knowledge should be recognized.” I hope that clarifies thing for you. Although i’m sure had you prayed to ‘God’ he would have enlightened you to this. Or ‘possibly’ not.

    Sure, I would class myself as open minded, as had I not been, as it says, ‘receptive to new ideas’ (please not this is in quotations because it is a quote) I would not have found myself reading and responding to your blog. Also, if you hadn’t actually been comprehending what I said, at no point have I said i am not open to your beliefs, or at all that I have been entirely discouraging (although maybe a little to your extreme (I was going to write extremist, but then thought that would be being a bit extreme on my part) point of view).

    Thank you, Claire, for this truly ‘enlightening’ conversation. I hope ‘God’ makes all the right choices for the rest of your life.

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    Being open-minded is a lovely idea but every time you put God in quotes you undermine your own statement. If you really were open-minded then in a conversation with someone who believes in God you’d just refer to God, in the same way that if I was talking to someone with a profound faith the Buddha I wouldn’t write about ‘Buddha’ reminding them each time that I felt their belief was imaginary nonsense. That’s not open-mindedness it’s passive aggression.

    It’s interesting that what you’re taking from my story is that I “obviously still find no value” in myself. Perhaps you missed the verb tense? It was past tense. At the time in my life when I was suicidal, then yes, I felt I had no value and my sense of worth was replenished by something outside of myself, in my case God. However, if I still felt that way I would be still be suicidal, which fortunately, mercifully I am not.

    I’m curious, how would you define open-mindedness? You mention the word often as a way to describe yourself but from what you’ve written here you don’t seem particularly open to the idea of God but quite closed to it. What does it mean to be open-minded?

  • Rebecca says:

    Hi Claire

    I am an open minded person and I respect your views and opinions as we are all entitled to our own. I could not in fact dispute what you say, for I have never experienced anything of the same. It honestly does not matter to me, as I said in my comment previously, whether or not the existence of ‘God’ or any ‘God-like’ being is or is not true. It is the fact that constantly those who believe place all their faith, and yes their worth, and value of life, their strengths, their weaknesses, their skills, their courage, their emotions, their everything into the hands of ‘God’. You say the reason you are here today is entirely up to ‘Him’. He gave you that vision, that dream, that courage, and as true or not as it may be. You are the one who made the change, you are the one who stood up to follow the ‘plan’, you are the one who came to realize your worth. If as you said ‘God’ saved you and that is great and all, but you are the one who acted, who implemented those changes. I’m open to anything, I can’t say that I am a believer, all I can say is that you obviously still find no value in yourself if you cannot credit yourself, and be proud, of those changes you made, that were not down to ‘God’, but to yourself. That is all.

  • Sharon says:

    thank you Shelley– thank you for that prayer good prayer for those of us who are very getting healed from low esteem love sharon

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    You are, of course, welcome to believe that there is no God, but you won’t convince me of it. I believe that God is very real and He genuinely did help me at a time when I could not help myself. There’s more of my story here. Here’s the short version: at a time when I was working out the details of how I was going to kill myself I had a dream. And that dream changed everything. I cannot explain it any other way except to say that I believe the dream came from God. It has never happened to me again and I know how weird it sounds to say, “God spoke to me in a dream” like something out of the old testament. But here’s the truth: he really did. That dream was 20 years ago and I can still describe exactly what it looked like, exactly what happened and exactly why when I woke up from it I knew that I could not take my own life. What was in that dream is not a story I could have told myself. If you’re skeptical of that, I completely understand, but for me, I was there when I happened and I would not be here now if it had not happened.

    When you’re convinced that you’re worthless, how could you reach inside yourself and find worth? Either the value was always there and you suddenly find a new way to see it or the value comes from somewhere else. For me, it came from God.

  • Rebecca says:

    Not every problem can be solved by ‘God’. Your God is a character, fictional or not, It doesn’t matter. Are you not deluding yourselves to the fact that he can change the way you feel. He is not doing anything, your imagination, your mind, your illusions about life is what is changing it for you. ‘God’ is merely a belief. Regardless of his existence, God is merely something you believe in when life’s problems get too big or too much for you to find a logical solution, you find solace in whatever could be out there, when it really is just up to you or me to find some courage to face our issues ourselves. ‘God’ helps you find peace in the small things and the big things, he even gives you a solution to the mystery and fear of each person’s impending death. So as I read your article, and I understand this is only my opinion and if I don’t like your article to not read it and move on with my life, however, as I did indeed read through your article,I felt it helped, I read the truth in what you were saying in your situation and I wanted to know really how you managed to regain confidence in yourself. Maybe though, in my opinion, you should not credit ‘God’ and maybe disregard him from your beliefs altogether and realise you are the way you are because you did it. And you were strong enough. I cannot fathom the idea of people finding their ‘true worth’ as one comment stated in ‘Christ’ – Find it in yourself. You are real. You are true. No matter what it doesn’t change. There can be many religions. Many. But there will only ever be one you.

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    Wendy I am so glad that you found this site and that it has been an encouragement to you! As women we struggle so much with who we are, what is our identity truly? who am I? But as the author says, ‘Now I have an answer: I am a woman loved by God. You can say the same. You matter to God.’ You do matter to God Wendy!!

    Take a look at The Father’s Love letter which is a list of all of the things God says about you in the Bible. Pay close attention to how valuable you are in the sight of God. Choose a favorite verse or two and put them somewhere you will see it every day. 2 Corinthians 5:17 is a great one to start with “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

    Here are a couple of articles you might like:

    7 Little Treats for Summer – Choose one thing you can do this week to feel better about your body. Paint your toes, consider a new hairstyle, try a different style of ear rings – find something small that makes you smile when you see yourself in the mirror.

    Take the online worksheet about Dealing with Low Self Esteem – when you fill out the answers and hit send a study coach will read them and respond with more things to think about. You can talk to your coach as often as you like.

    Use this form to request a mentor – Mentoring is a free and private service. You can ask your mentor anything and you’ll get an email back, usually within a couple of days. Your mentor will pray for you and find additional resources to help.

  • wendy says:

    Hi, I came across this site by answered prayer! I have struggled with self esteem all my life. I was very oveweight as a child, anorexic at college,married, had my son, divorced, ‘re married had my daughter, anorexia again, began competing in figure natural body building, now I have not competed since 2009 I feel lost! Who am I?? What is my body, how should I eat for me?? What clothes, that is terrifying, getting dressed each day, fear if clothes being tighter. .my son no longer lives with us, has anger issues after being bullied and as he grew my husband who has been his dad since he was 2, their relationship broke down, myself and our daughter were stuck in the middle, I couldn’t agree or disagree with anyone as it upset someone! Fear of confrontation is huge! I just want to drink to forget all the things gone wrong. Seems everyone I get close to hurts me or I hurt them. .

  • Shelley says:

    Dear Father God.

    Lord I lift up anyone woman who is struggling with self-esteem in there lives that you will heal and comfort them.

  • SUBASH says:


  • Doris Beck D. Beck says:

    Great points Wolfgang!! You are absolutely right…those are some great ideas for helping to build our self esteem! Thanks for posting!

  • Wolfgang says:

    Low self esteem can leave us afraid to try new things because we fear that we will fail. However, the challenge of self esteem building is to embrace new things and to give yourself the opportunity to enjoy them, just because you deserve it. Taking up a new hobby can be a fantastic step towards overcoming low self esteem. Spending time with like minded people and enjoying an activity purely for fun, with no pressure, is a good way to feel better about yourself; you may even discover a hidden talent into the bargain!

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Lets say,
    I understand how a person could look at aspects of the message of Jesus and think that it is a confidence and esteem killer. The Bible clearly says that we have missed the potential that God has created within us and some people look at that and see an attack on self-esteem.

    But that isn’t the end of the message of Jesus because He tells us that even though we have messed up that potential that He created in us, He loves us so much that He sacrificed Himself to set us free from the long-term consequences of our poor choices. He created us to be in relationship with Him and He has gone to extremes to make that possible again.

    And that is where we find our true worth and value: when we live our lives in close communion with God we become all that He created us to be. Just think of it, the God who has created all things values us so much that He is willing to sacrifice Himself to have a relationship with us. And as we walk in that relationship we live out the purpose for which we were created. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is for me to know that God has a plan for my life and that He is with me every moment of every day leading me to fulfill that purpose and to enjoy friendship with Him that goes beyond any intimacy that I can experience anywhere else or with anyone else.

  • M. Jantzen says:

    Hello lets say,

    Thanks for posting on this blog (seriously). If everyone agreed with us, this blog would be boring. From reading your comment I think I would also condemn the kind of religion it seems you experienced more than 20 years ago. There is a lot of teaching out there that puts people into a cycle of guilt and shame and makes them depend on a religious system to keep on cleansing their conscience. Many religious circles also focus so much on the ‘sinfulness’ of humanity that they cause people to view themselves negatively: “Woe is me. I’m just a poor sinner capable of nothing else.”

    Yet, I have not thrown out the baby with the bathwater. Perhaps my religious community and experience has been different. I actually find that my faith in God (Jesus) is the foundation of my self-esteem, for I know that he loves me and has created me uniquely, and even though I make mistakes, that’s not my identity. My opinion of myself does not depend on measuring up to a cultural standard of success or having a certain appearance or enough material wealth. I can stand confident in who I am because God thinks I’m awesome.

    Of course, there are sins I see myself doing, but because of his forgiveness and him working out his plan in my life, I don’t wallow in self-pity (or the opposite: ignoring my faults in vain self-sufficiency). I just walk through life, knowing I’m loved, cared for, gifted by God and therefore have enough self-esteem that I can actually focus on helping others. Now, if that’s not useful religion, then I don’t know what is.

    Here’s a food-for-thought question: If Christianity did not exist, how many charity organizations would have actually existed to respond to the 2004 Tsunami. A little research will show that the majority of those organizations are either explicitly Christian or started out as such when first established. Sure, people have screwed up the world in the name of Jesus, but far, far more good has been done by those who claim to follow Jesus.

    Take care.

  • lets say says:

    Very sad.
    All this story was to quickly get someone to “commit” to jesus?
    religion with all threats of hell and escape mentality is a confidence
    and esteem killer but you are ready to espouse it and
    praise it instead of conemn it..
    Getting rid of “salvation” was my first step to regain my
    self confidence and esteem some 20 year ago.

  • Sharon says:

    dear me– men i am sure don’t have self esteem too if they grew up in a difficult life i know i didn’t have self esteem for the longest time i am very slowing getting my self esteem good article thank you for posting this

  • marie says:

    I Colvin, thank you for your response and prayer. You asked some questions id like to answer but im only able to go online via mobile phone. I will use your resources and seek counseling. Thank you! God bless you!

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Marie, I’m so glad you felt comfortable commenting here. That took courage, well done! You said that you worry about your husband seeing beautiful women. I don’t know you, or your story, so to start with I have some questions for you. A statement like this could be rooted in two places: either a) you are concerned about your husband’s faithfulness or b) you are concerned about the way you look. Has your husband ever been unfaithful? Could there be unresolved tension there? (If this is part of your story, clearly you’re still together so you must have come through it. Did you both see a counsellor?) Does your husband ever act in a way that you feel is flirtatious? Have you and he ever been able to talk about that?

    How do you feel about the way you look? You said that you have two young children so it’s possible that your body looks a little different from the way it was before you had kids. Would you say that that is something you struggle with?

    There will always be beautiful women in the world but that’s ok because they are not actually the issue. There was a fantastic ad campaign from the Body Shop back in the 90s with a tagline that said, “There are 3 billion women in the world who don’t look like supermodels and only 8 who do.” From your comment it sounds a bit like you have some anger or negative emotions toward beautiful women. (You described women in provocative clothing – unless you’re living in Vegas or spend a lot of time at the beach I wonder how much of it is “too sexy” and how much makes you uncomfortable for other reasons? Were you given strict clothing rules as a child? Does your husband prefer that you dress in a modest or overly modest fashion now? Have you ever had disagreements about what modest clothing looks like?)

    It sounds like you are making decisions about your life – where you will go and what activities you will participate based on people who do not know you – these other beautiful women. (Or perhaps you have a very beautiful relative who gets a lot of attention for her looks? Are you feeling overlooked or jealous?) That behaviour is something Oprah used to refer to as “giving away your power”. I don’t know if you’re a fan of Oprah or not, but there is truth in what she said there. Don’t give your decision making power over to another person. Choose based on what you and your family need, not in response to a random stranger and what she chose to put on this morning.

    Have you ever considered seeing a counsellor? I know that some people feel uncomfortable with the idea of counselling but it is an incredibly healthy practice. I believe that it IS possible for you to be comfortable in your skin. I know from personal experience that that is a journey that can take some time and getting help, really helps. Seeing a counsellor does not mean you’re weak, it means you’re strong enough to believe that it’s possible to change your life. And it IS possible to change your life.

    You are wise enough to see that your thinking is affecting the way you enjoy your marriage and family. (I would imagine that these feelings could also cause some distance or fear or discomfort in the bedroom.) Be encouraged that recognizing that there’s something in your life that you’d like to change is incredibly positive.

    So resources and first steps:

    1. If you feel comfortable, talk to your husband. Let him know what is happening in your head so he can help.
    2. Take a look at The Father’s Love letter which is a list of all of the things God says about you in the Bible. Pay close attention to how valuable you are in the sight of God.
    3. Choose a favorite verse or two and put them somewhere you will see it every day. 2 Corinthians 5:17 is a great one to start with “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
    4. Pay attention to the way you talk about yourself in your own thoughts. Try to stop the negative thoughts and think good things about yourself.

    Here are a couple of articles you might like:

    7 Little Treats for Summer – Choose one thing you can do this week to feel better about your body. Paint your toes, consider a new hairstyle, try a different style of ear rings – find something small that makes you smile when you see yourself in the mirror.

    Take the online worksheet about Dealing with Low Self Esteem – when you fill out the answers and hit send a study coach will read them and respond with more things to think about. You can talk to your coach as often as you like.

    Use this form to request a mentor – Mentoring is a free and private service. You can ask your mentor anything and you’ll get an email back, usually within a couple of days. Your mentor will pray for you and find additional resources to help.

    Can I pray for you?

    God, I’m here to pray for Marie today. You see her and you know how beautiful she is. I do not know what is causing her to say that she’s not able to enjoy herself but I pray that You would show her how valuable she is. Show her how much her husband loves her. Show her how much her children love her. If anyone has ever doubted the incredible value of her work as a mother, encourage her in her parenting. I do not know if she is feeling depressed or if she is dealing with a depression, if there is something her doctor could do to help, help Marie to know how to ask for that help. I pray that You would bring joy back in to her life. Where there is anger or hurt, help her to work through it and let it go. Where there is doubt or insecurity help her to see that she is cherished and loved and of great worth. Thank you for helping her to take this first step today. Be her strength I pray, Amen.

  • marie says:

    I’m a 27 yr old, married mother of two girls. I struggle with low self esteem and insecurities daily. I can’t enjoy myself because I’m concerned with all the beautiful women and if my husband will see them. I don’t want to do anything cause there are beautiful women dressed in provacative clothing … If we do go somewhere in miserable thinking of all the possibilities.. and a depressed grouch on guard. I’m tired of my thinking. I want to enjoy my marriage and family. I want to be happy in my skin. Please Lord help me!

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi MJ,

    I can pretty much guarantee you that you does not want you to be an island. He created us for community. We see that in the way He set up the church and even in God Himself. God is all about relationship and if you cut yourself off from that you’re cutting yourself off from a pretty big part of life.

    Why do you believe that you cannot have a relationship with someone? You mentioned that you are terrified of rejection, have you been rejected before? Often low self esteem can be associated with depression. Is that something you have dealt with? Have you ever been to see a counsellor to talk about it? If you are dealing with depression it makes everything feel like it takes an enormous effort. I know that it’s hard to keep trying, but you can’t just give up. That’s not going to get you what you want. Consider talking to a counsellor, they can help.

    Also, I’d encourage you to read over this list of all the things God says are true about you. Read it over and over again. Print it out and put it somewhere where you will see it often. When we’ve been told bad things about ourselves or when we’ve come to believe that they’re true it’s hard to re-program your brain to see yourself differently. It can be done, but it has to be deliberate. That’s why you need to read the good things God says about you over and over. Let them seep into your brain and into your heart. Let God’s words change the way you see yourself.

  • mj says:

    I have suffered w low esteem my whole life since I began school. I used to pray for recess to end, because I never had anyone to play with. The few friends I did make moved away. It has affected my whole life. Even though I came from a Christian home and have Christ as my saviour, I still believe that I can not have a relationship with anyone. I sabotage things. Even in my family if I am criticized I tend to withdraw. I have not found a friend that would last. and I couldn’t pick a husband that would work out. I do not know how to fix this. I am terrified of rejection from others, I just feel like God wants me to be an island. I have become complacent and don’t really try anymore.

  • Barbara Alpert Barbara Alpert says:

    Dear Christine, God does not want you to find your worth, value, or happiness in anyone else but Him! God wants you to enjoy life, your relationship with Him, and the blessings of being in right relationships with others. Breakups are hard to deal with especially when the other one walks away from the relationship. However, if you remain attached to that broken relationship you then remain closed off from any new ones that God has for you! Have you thought that maybe that your previous fiancé was not the right person God intended for you?

  • Christine says:

    My fiance went to the states two years ago. His attitude and communication patterns have changed over the years. He seems a bit distant, at times promises to call and doesnt, he didnt even buy for me a birthday gift. We have had our own issues to be frank, it started on the day that I kissed someone else and I told him. Since then, he seems cold though we prayed about it and he said he forgave me, things havent been the same. Now, I feel lonely, helpless and so sad most times. I avoid meeting up with friends, I spend most of my devotion time praying to God for him but am seriously confused. I feel dejected and uncertain of the future. Any advise?

  • Miguel says:

    This is an incredible site that i stumbled upon. I wish everybody the best in their recoveries. I have battled with social anxiety most of my life,now im 35, since i was 18. It also coincided that i started smoking marijuanaat age 18, to make myself feel calmer. I smoked for 17 years and just stopped 9 days ago. I work as a substitute teacher mainly because im in the classroom only for 1 day and don’t have to “face” the same class over and over again. I/ve been a loner most of my life and i used to have a speech impairment where i speak fast and some words get stuck in my throat and i make faces. I feel very self-conscious when im talking to people even my own family. When i was younger i used to get by becuase not much was expected from me. But now that im older i feel that im smart (I have 2 degrees) but lack the confidence and guts to talk to people in a conversation without feeling panicky or thinking too much. I guess i compare myself to much to people, when i hear them talking to each other & they’re laughing and sounding comfortable, it makes me feel sad that i can’t be normal and not care about what people thnk about the way i talk. ANyways, thats my story. Thanks for listening.

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    So glad to hear that you were encouraged both by this post itself and by the prayers in the comments J.E. Restoring our self esteem is such an important issue in everyone’s lives. To know that I am(as the author stated so well), a woman loved by God just the way I am, is awesome. The problem comes when I compare myself to others or allow the comments that others make to influence me in a negative way. Then it’s a good time to reread this article and the comments!

  • J.E. says:

    Well said. Thoroughly enjoyed the post and the encouraging prayers given in comments. Blessings!

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Jackie, I wish you could see the smile that I got on my face as I read this. It sounds like you are making fantastic progress! You’ve talked to your doctor, which is a very good place to start and it sounds like you’ve started to make decisions which is also incredibly positive. Can you hear yourself? You’re talking about things you like and things you don’t which is a distinction that can get lost in the midst of depression. Often when we’re depressed making a decision is incredibly challenging and it’s hard, sometimes impossible to remember the times when we we happy or even the things that we like. You’ve been able to do both of those things which I think is very healthy.

    It sounds to me like you’ve done some excellent thinking. You’ve started to identify what you want and what you don’t want. You’ve identified specifically which parts of convent life are not a fit for you, and as those elements are not things that can be changed or modified (community living is always going to involve asking for permission to do things) you’ve been able to see that this is not a compatible choice for you. You’re also thinking clearly enough to see what is a healthy environment for you and what will put you at risk. All of this is moving in the right direction.

    So now it’s time to start thinking about making plans. You said that you don’t have anywhere to go which is a very real and practical concern. So while you still have the safety of the convent as a place to stay, start praying for a place to live and start asking around and looking. I know in my own life there have been times where I’ve asked God for someone to share an apartment with and He has provided. There was also a time when we were looking for a new place and we prayed and one of my roommates came home that night and said that there was a couple in her parent’s small group that had just decided to move and their home was available for rent. Did we want to see it? We went to look at it and it was perfect.

    I believe that God will provide a place for you. Leaving is never easy. But making that move can be a really good thing once you get past the part where you have to take the leap. The thing is, the leap itself is over pretty quickly. Walking out the door is hard, but after that it’s just travelling and starting the next chapter. It’s scary, but you’re not going alone. You have God with you and He will watch over you.

  • Jackie Robson says:

    Hi Claire,

    I am under my doctor and I saw him on Wednesday and he thinks that the pressure of not feeling settled here is adding to my depression and that once I make a decision I will feel a lot better. He asked me when I was truly happy and I said when I was at bible college and preaching and doing pastoral visiting as well as praying with people that is when I felt most fulfilled.

    I feel I have made my decision about whether to stay here or not and I don’t feel it is right for me as I feel too controlled and having to ask permission for everything and not having much space for myself actually drags me down as I feel like I am a child again and am restricted and oppressed. Since making that decisison in my own mind I have felt more at peace although I am still worried that I am just running away from something I don’t like and am scared that God won’t be pleased with me if He actually wants me to stay here but I just don’t think I can live this life as much as I like the place and the sisters I hate the lifestyle. I Have spoken to the Reverand Mother and told her how I am feeling and she has asked me to wait until I have a certainty about it before I make any decision which I have said I will do but to be honest I think if I stay here I will become ill as I don’t think I am physically or emotionally strong enough to cope with this life.

    I also feel God has called me to healing ministry which is something I have felt called to for the last 15 years and if I stay here I will never get the opportunity for that because we are needed to clean the house and look after the elderly sisters and dont get the opportunity to work in the parish. I am also beginning to realise that I miss charismatic worship as I am now in the Anglo Catholic branch of the Anglical church but I actually connect with God in the context of charismatic worship and I miss that.

    I am rather confused about it all but am feeling better in myself just not sure where to go from here as I don’t have anywhere to go if I leave here and it will be difficult to leave here but I want to do what God wants me to if He will make it clear to me.


  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Jackie,

    As you know, this time at the convent is designed specifically to see if you are suited to community life or not. If you feel that it is not for you, that’s not a failure, it simply means that the process has done exactly what it intended to do. It has shown you your answer. This is not a bad thing.

    You mentioned that your depression is worsening. Have you talked to your doctor about this? If I were you I would book an appointment with the doctor as soon as possible. Depression is a complex illness with many factors in play at all times. You may need to adjust your medication (or back on on meds if you are currently off them). You might need changes in your diet, your exercise, your environment, the amount of sunlight or time outdoors etc. In addition, if you are having suicidal thoughts, you need to be very careful not to ignore those. Suicidal thoughts, sometimes referred to as suicidal ideation is something to be taken seriously. In the US you can call 1 800 SUICIDE, in Canada and in the UK 08457 90 90 90. Elsewhere in the world there is a full list of numbers here.

    God has not forgotten you. He has a plan for you but it’s going to be hard for you to accept that until your depression is being managed under a doctor’s care. Think of it like this. If you were really short sighted I could put a wonderful gift right in front of you and you wouldn’t know it was there because your physical condition made it impossible to perceive it. It’s a bit like that with depression. Your brain is less able to process good news, sometimes completely unable to do so, because of the illness. But with a doctor’s care and supervision you can improve and with that improvement you’ll be able to see the good things that you simply cannot see right now.

    Let me pray for you right now:

    Father in Heaven, Have mercy on your daughter Jackie. I know that You see her, I know that You have a plan for her and You love her. Help her to find the right doctor, one that will walk with her in this depression. Help her to get the help she needs – whether that’s medication or therapy or both – show her that depression is nothing to be ashamed of. It is an illness, not a weakness. Give her the strength to ask for help, just as she has been brave enough to ask for it here. I pray that You would quieten the lies that she believes about herself. Show her the life that she can have, whether that’s inside the convent, or outside of it. Help her to believe that things can get better. Show her how much you love her. Show her that You see her. I pray for a counsellor, maybe even one of the sisters, someone to come alongside her so that she is not alone. Grant her peace, grant her hope, grant her relief so that she can see the value that her life has and is not tempted to take her life. Help her to feel your love today. In your name I pray, Amen.

  • Jackie Robson says:

    Thanks for that Claire I will try it but at the moment I am really struggling I thought my depression had got better and I was ready to move on but I have sunk right back down again and I am unsure as to whether I can live community life as I like my freedom too much and having to ask permission for everything makes me feel like a child again.

    It really drains me living this life as well and I don’t know if I am fit enough either physically or mentally.

    I am back to the normal timetable now and I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning I just didn’t want to wake up in fact I just want to die as life just feels too hard and I feel a failure at everything I have done and I just don’t want to carry on. I feel like nothing will ever go right for me and that God has forgotten me or given up on me and I don’t blame Him.

    I would really appreciate your prayers please thank you.


  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Jackie, I think you’ve asked a very important question, “how I do I learn to like myself and keep from sinking into depression every time something hard happens?” I wish I had a quick answer for you, I don’t. This is going to take time. But the good news is that this is something you can start to work on right away.

    I’d suggest a journaling exercise. Now should be the perfect time to do it because a) you’re in a convent, a place of devotion and contemplation and b) you’re on rest. So here’s what I’d like you to try.

    Step 1: Get a piece of paper and a pen and write down all the ways that you would answer this question:

    I am ____________ .

    You want a list of all the things you believe about yourself. This list is going to be private, so be honest. List the good things, list the bad things, whatever pops into your head. We all have things that we believe about ourselves, some of it is true and some of it isn’t. We don’t always realize the things we say about ourselves in our head, so it helps to actually think about it and write them down. It may not be a very nice list, that’s okay. We’re not stopping here. This is just a place to start.

    Step 2: Print out this list of all the things that God says about you. (You can also listen to this list read out loud, it’s quite lovely.) Read through the list. This is how God sees you. This is what He thinks about you. This is how much He loves you.

    Step 3: Take a look at your list and God’s list. God’s list is true and reliable. Your list is probably a mix of truth and lies (usually these are lies we’ve been told so often we believe them, things like “I am stupid”, “I am unwanted” or “I am unimportant.”) Is there anything on your list that is the opposite of something that is on God’s list? If so, cross that item off your list. Keep going until the only things left on your list are things that you know are true, things that do not stand in opposition to what God says about you.

    Step 4: Read the two lists again. Choose one or two items off the list to focus on and for the next few days, anytime you catch yourself thinking a lie about yourself, speak this truth to yourself instead. If you don’t quite believe it yet, that’s okay, speak it as something that God says. For example, if you find yourself thinking, “I don’t matter” say to yourself, “God says that I was not a mistake, for all my days are written in His book. (Psalm 139:15-16) It may feel strange at first, but this is how you start to change your thinking. My pastor often reminds us that you can’t fight thoughts with thoughts, you have to fight thoughts with words. God’s words are the most powerful of all.

    Try this for the next few days and let me know how it goes.

  • Jackie says:

    Thank you Claire and thank you for your prayer.

    Yes my Dad did emotionally abuse as well as my Mum they both constantly told me I wasn’t wanted and they wish they had never had me and nothing I ever did was good enough I grew up feeling unloved and worthless and like I couldn’t do anything and would never amount to anything.

    It is 9 months ago since my Dad died and I am surprised that it has hit me the way it has now as I thought I would be feeling better by now but it has really hit me and I keep on seeing the moment when my Dad died as I was with him and other moments that happened when I was caring for him and it is really tiring me out.

    I am at the convent now I have been here for 4 months nearly and am due to be elected as a novice in a couple of months and I am worried that if I am not better they won’t want me as I do think this is where God wants me for now anyway. It is a busy life and Carol and I are the youngest here as the others are all elderly so all the cleaning falls on us and at the moment it is all falling on Carol as my doctor told me I needed a fortnights rest so I feel guilty that it is leaving everything to Carol but I am exhausted so I don’t know what else I can do.

    I just want to be able to move on and to begin to like myself and believe that God loves me and to stop sinking into depression whenever anything hard comes along how do I do that?

    Thank you once again.


  • Jackie says:

    Thank you Claire. Yes my Father was part of the emotional abuse he constantly told me that I was useless and couldn’t do anything and I grew up believing that. My Mother also used to tell me that and tell me she only had me because of my Brother but they both said that they wished they’d never had me. My Dad did tell me he loved me before he died which was wonderful to hear as I never thought he would. I was with my Dad when he died and I keep on seeing that in my mind and now my familly home where I grew up has had to be put up for sale and I had to get rid of all my Dad’s things before I moved to the convent.

    I am at the convent now and have been here for nearly 4 months and should be elected to become a novice in another 2 months but if I am not better then that will have to be put on hold and it worries me that I won’t be accepted as I do believe this is where God wants me for now anyway. Getting used to a totally different way of life is very hard though and not being able to do what I want when I want to is difficult and it is a very intense, busy life which is why my doctor has given me 2 weeks rest but I feel guilty as that means everything falls on Carol the other novice as we are the youngest ones here all the other Sisters are elderly and can’t do cleaning or run messages so it all comes to us and at the minute Carol which I feel guilty about but I do need the break. I am so surprised though that it hits me like this after 9 months it was last October that my Dad died and it feels like yesterday the way it has hit me again.

    I just find it so hard to believe that I am any good or that anyone would want me or love me because I don’t like myself. Thank you for your prayer.


  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Jackie, I’m so glad that you wrote in to us today. That took courage and I am proud of you for reaching out. First of all, I am sorry to hear of the passing of your father. That must have been a huge blow, especially since you had been his caretaker for almost a year. It’s not the same at all, but I remember when my Grandpa went into full time care, my Mom who had been caring for him (he had advanced Alzheimer’s) was totally shocked at just how much physical and emotional energy she had spent on him. She felt adrift when that care was no longer required, and exhausted. I can’t imagine how much more that would apply in your situation.

    I know that it is really hard, sometimes impossible to see our own situations objectively, so let me tell you what I see. You took care of your Dad for 11 months – how could you possibly be useless? That was a huge commitment in time, and emotions and resources and you did it. That is not he behaviour of a useless person, quite the opposite. You mentioned that you were emotionally abused as a child, was your father part of that? Was he around when it was happening? It must have been very challenging to go back to the scene of the crime, so to speak, and take care of him. That takes a lot of strength.

    I am not surprised to hear that these old feelings and thoughts have resurfaced since you moved to a convent. Often we try to protect ourselves from certain negative thoughts and feelings and when we get to a safe place our brain brings them back to the surface so we can deal with them. It’s a bit like the way that students often get sick right after finals, or you hear of brides who come down with the flu on their honeymoon or right after they get home. Your body can ignore stress and run on adrenaline for a time, but when things slow down your body will force you to deal with what it is that you’ve been ignoring.

    Try not to feel bad about increasing your medication. Depression is an illness like cancer or a broken arm. It requires treatment and attention and it’s not your fault if the lower dosage doesn’t work. You wouldn’t chastise a cancer patient for needing a second round of chemo. Needing to increase your meds is not a sign of weakness or failure, it’s just physiological. It’s what your doctor feels you need right now to have the best chance at getting healthy. So don’t heap guilt or shame on top of depression, that’s not going to help. Instead, as much as you can, be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself carefully. You’ve gone through a major trauma in losing your Dad, and all the more so because you had been his caretaker. I’d imagine that you’ve been asking yourself, “What now? Who am I when he no longer needs me?” Those can be scary questions, but they can also be exciting ones. You have a new life stretched out in front of you, what would you like to do?

    Joining a convent is always a long process done in stages precisely because it is not the life for everyone. You need to be sure. If you’ve found that part way through your journey it is not the life for you, then that is a success, not a failure. The process has done exactly what it’s supposed to do – it has helped you make your decision. Think about what it is about religious life that drew you to it and see if there are other ways to meet those needs. Did you like being part of a community? Did you like helping the poor? Was it the times of devotion that drew you? The insulation? The sense of purpose? See if you can identify the aspects that most appealed to you. You might be able to find them somewhere else.

    You have value. That is not up for debate. I know that it can be hard to believe, so for now let me believe it for you. You matter Jackie. You have intrinsic value. God sees you and He has not forgotten about you. You’re under a doctor’s care which is the best and bravest thing you can do for yourself right now. I hear from so many people who are unwilling to get help. But not you – you’ve taken the bold step so seek out medical help and that is admirable. There is someone in my life who takes antidepressants and his decision to take them does not make him weak, it makes him strong. It means that he is wise enough to take his thoughts and feelings seriously, and he is courageous enough to know that he wants to feel a different way and is willing to do the work to get better. I am so proud of him. And I am so proud of you. God will not give up on you. Not ever. Don’t give up on yourself. I encourage you do to something just for yourself today. Paint your nails a bright colour, go for a walk somewhere pretty, treat yourself to your favourite coffee. Do something that makes you smile and tomorrow pick another thing. I know for myself I respond well to colour so I make sure that I have my favourite colours close by where I can see them every morning.

    Let me pray for you:

    God in Heaven, I’m here to pray for Jackie this morning. You know the pain that is in her heart – old pain from childhood and new pain from the loss of her father. I pray that You would give her peace. Bring people into her life who can walk with her and help her as she figures out what comes next. It’s scary not knowing what tomorrow holds, but I pray that You would remind Jackie that she doesn’t need to fear tomorrow because You are already there. Give her joy today Father, something that makes her smile and something that makes her laugh. Show her how much You love her and how valuable she is. When Satan whispers lies to her telling her that she is useless help her to fight back with the truth of scripture. She is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) she is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Help her to live in the truth that she is a beloved daughter of Yours. Show her the next step and guide her as she does the work of building a new life without her Dad. In your name I pray, Amen

  • Jackie says:

    Thank you for this article I am really struggling with low self esteem and hate myself and feel I am worthless. I was emotionally abused as a child and grew up never feeling loved or wanted and I have recently lost my Dad after caring for him for 11 months and moved to a convent to test my vocation to the religious life and have come down with depression which has brought back all the old feelings of not being worth anything. I feel a failure at life as having to up my dose of anti depressants and have time out makes me feel like I am useless.

    I also feel like God has given up on me because I am so weak and pathetic.

    This article helps remind me that God will not give up on me and I am worth something to Him but it is hard to believe.


  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Jennifer, You’ve asked an excellent question, “How can I get out of this funk?” The answer to that depends in part on what kind of funk you’re in. It sounds like you’ve gone through a great deal of life change and stress at the moment so the biggest thing you might need right now is rest – whether that’s physical rest, emotional rest or even financial rest (although that one is pretty hard to come by). I’d encourage you to set some pretty strict boundaries for yourself. You’ve been through a trauma with all of these changes, so it may help to think of yourself as someone who just had surgery. If you’d just had your appendix out, you’d go easy on yourself. You’d get a lot of rest but you’d also try to walk around a bit. You’d probably be very careful about what you ate, you wouldn’t be expected to deal with other people’s problems, you’d be gentle with yourself and go slowly as you stepped back into your life. You may find that that’s what you need to do now. Standing still isn’t an option for most of us, most of the time. But you can go slowly, carefully as you learn this world you find yourself in.

    A few weeks ago I got the chance to hear Dr. Robi Sonderegger speak at a conference. Dr. Robi is Clinical Psychologist who specializes in trauma recovery. During the conference he gave us a list of 7 things that are necessary for mental health. As you’re trying to find your way out of a funk, I wondered if the items on his list would help you too. They are:

    !. Sleep hygiene (going to bed and getting up at the same time every day)
    2. Understand your role/function/worth (Finding your gifts and skills, and from a spiritual standpoint understanding Who you belong to)
    3. Consume – be very aware of what you eat and feed yourself well. One of the things that really stood out to me was when Dr. Robi said that “everything you put in your mouth is medicine.” Hmm. Oh.
    4. Consider – Pay attention to what you are thinking about. What you focus on you will see more of. Actively focus on the good.
    5. Exercise – He mentioned that no one wants to do this one but it’s important. There’s this stuff called Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, BDN, that is secreted when you exercise. Your brain uses BDN to create new brain cells so you can actually change your brain by working out.
    6. Sunlight – Ideally early morning sunlight and late afternoon sunlight if you can get it. I don’t have the chemical for this one in my notes but there’s something that is created when the wavelengths of this particular sun hit your retinas. (I wish I’d taken better notes but I was so focussed on listening.) He talked about how so many of us get up, leave for work, work indoors all day and head home and go back inside. He recommends an early morning walk if possible. And if not, at least getting outside for a few minutes at lunch as a place to start.
    7. Socialization – As humans we’re built for relationship. This one can be especially hard if part of your recent life changes has involved a change in your primary relationship. It’s so so tempting to hide yourself away, but you need people. Find one safe person and start there. Spend time with them. Don’t force yourself into a gigantic social situation right off the start, but don’t be completely alone either. We don’t do well in that environment. Meeting new people is really hard, especially when you feel like you don’t have much to give. Try volunteering somewhere. It will give you something to do with your hands and the people will be glad to see you. Everyone wins.

    One day at a time is an excellent way to approach this. Remember that what other people say about us does not dictate who we are. What God says about us dictates who we are.

  • Jennifer says:

    This article is wonderful and reminds me of what I read today in Ephesians, that we are God’s workmanship.
    I am struggling with major changes in my life and everything that was constant in my life has changed, except for God. My self-esteem struggles and it has affected my motivation in life and obviously caused depression. Fortunately, I am a fighter, so right now my approach is to take one day at a time. Today, I will try to appreciate the sweet things and I will make an effort to smile. I do wonder how I can get out of this funk though.

  • Candi says:

    This was a great post! Thanks for sharing.

  • jpetes says:

    Hi Tasha,

    If you’d like to talk to someone privately I invite you to sign up for a mentor. Our mentors will email you and walk alongside you through anything you’re facing. You can sign up for a mentor here.

  • Tasha says:

    Do you mind if I email you instead of replying on here?

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Matthew the most important for anyone, male or female, is to look at what it is that the Bible tells us about ourselves. The life lesson that Claire mentions up above,(just click on the words, Do You Define Yourself) is an excellent place to start and then you will have an online study coach who will respond to you and pray for you and walk alongside of you.

  • matthew says:

    it is a nice veiw point for women but i have bi pola im a man i need help with some veiw ponits and what if your already working for the church and you have low self worth what then ,,please answer.

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Tasha, You mentioned that things are going downhill, how downhill is downhill? It’s understandable that you’d want to hang in there and deal with it yourself but there is absolutely no shame in seeking out help when you need it. Issues with self esteem are not unimportant, it’s not just a phase to get through. Sometimes it can become dangerous, and before it gets that far a doctor or counsellor can really, really help. On a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 is happy and thriving and 1 is hanging on by a thread, where are you right now? I do not know if you are depressed or not, but if you think you might be, go see your family doctor. Let them help.

    Has something happened recently that made things worse? Did someone say something to you? Is this time of year challenging? Do you find that it’s harder in the winter time? (That’s a real condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder and there’s plenty you can do to help that if that sounds like you.)

    You said that what I wrote before helped for a little while, why did it stop helping? Was it because it was hard to keep thinking about your thoughts and not letting the negative thoughts take over? I can relate to that. Sticking with it IS hard, but you do get to a point where the new behaviour become the habit instead of the old behaviour. Sometimes I think about my negative thoughts as if they are a large rock that I am carrying around and I ask God to help me pull my fingers off the rock and set it down. I’ve caught myself running back and picking it up so many times, but then I stop and ask again, “help me pry my fingers off this rock”. It helps. But you really do have to actually stop the thought and tell yourself that you are not going to think that.

    I don’t know what your life looks like right now, but if you feel like you can’t handle what is happening, help is available. Suicidal thoughts are part of my story. It hasn’t happened for a long time now, but there was a time when I thought about it almost every day, a time when I started to make plans. I used to think that people who were suicidal were weak, but I know now that that simply isn’t true. I heard a definition of suicide once that said that “Suicide is what happens when our circumstances outweigh our resources to handle those circumstances.” You have not mentioned anything about suicidal thoughts and so I hope that is because you have not had these thoughts, but if you have the time to get help is now, before you feel completely overwhelmed, before it really is too much.

    I think it is a very good sign that you commented here again. It says to me that you are still willing to fight to get better. You see that you are worth fighting for and that is SO GOOD. Because you are, you really really are. A couple of articles that would be good to read: Learning to Love the Girl in the Mirror, Finding Purpose, Women and Self Esteem. There’s also a really great life lesson on How Do You Define Yourself. If you try the lesson, you just fill in your answers and hit submit and then it goes to a study coach who will discuss your answers with you, offer further reading, pray for you and encourage you as you learn. It’s a great process I highly recommend it.

  • Tasha says:

    Thank-you so much for your input, it helped a little, for a while at least. I appreciate your prayer. Things seem to be going downhill, though. . . I guess I’ll just hang in there.

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:


    It’s not a question of learning to ignore it, it’s a process of realizing what is true and what is a lie. I understand that it feels like there is a barrier between you and God but I promise you that God doesn’t see it that way. When there’s distance between us and God it’s because WE took a step back not because God turned away. When Christ looks at you he doesn’t see someone who is damaged. He doesn’t think that you are ugly or awkward or a bad Christian. He looks at you and see his beautiful child, treasured and wanted and created for a purpose. He sees you forgiven and restored.

    Self image is such a hard thing to deal with because you can’t escape yourself – believe me, I tried. (You can read my story here.) I don’t know if you are telling yourself that you’re all these horrible things, or if someone else has said them to you, but they are not true. I know that they can buried so deep in your heart that they feel true, they sound true, but it’s all lies. It’s possible that you might be awkward, but if you are it’s a temporary condition for most of us. I was definitely awkward. And while it was impossible to believe at the time, I really DID grow out of it. You learn to get better at being with people, you learn to trust yourself and you learn which things you’re good at which situations tend to trigger things for you.

    So trust me that the future does get better, but what do you do now, today?

    First, you need to remind yourself of what God sees when he looks at you. Satan uses lies to convince us that we’re worthless, it’s the best trick he has. If he can convince you that you aren’t worth much then you’ll stay silent, you’ll be more likely to put up with terrible behaviour and less likely to act. When I was in your shoes my whole life revolved around being as invisible as possible. I figured that if they couldn’t see me, or forgot that I was there that it would hurt less. It’s a very small life. God’s plans for you are not small plans. He has huge world-changing plans for you and as long as Satan has you convinced that you can’t do it, you won’t. So we have to fix that.

    Take a look at this list of who God says you are. It’s a big long list, so to start with choose just one of these things. The next time you hear yourself thinking, “I’m ugly, I don’t matter, God is mad at me or I’m a bad Christian.” stop and repeat the one true thing God says about you. Identify the bad thought as a lie and replace it with something you know is true. It’s going to feel really strange at first, kinda like breaking in new pair of shoes. But you have to breakdown the old thinking to let the new thinking in. I wish I could tell you that you’ll just wake up tomorrow morning confident and feeling like a million dollars, but in my experience it doesn’t work that way. It takes time. But you can start right now.

    What is one thing that you love about yourself? Remind yourself of this when you find your thoughts circling back to negative things. Think of training your mind like training a puppy. You can’t teach a puppy not to jump up in just one go. You have to be consitent and every time the puppy jumps up, correct it. It’s like that with your brain. It’s going to reach for those negative thoughts often because that is a pattern that it is used to. Every time that happens, stop the negative thought and remind yourself of the truth of who God says you are and you’ll create a new pattern for mind. The Bible talks about “taking every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) and about “renewing our minds” (Romans 12:2) What goes on inside our heads dictates how we live.

    Lastly, do something to help yourself like what you see in the mirror. I know that none of us can snap our fingers and instantly have the body/hair/height that we always wanted, but we can always do something to make ourselves feel more confident about the way we look. What’s your favourite colour? Find a shirt or a pair of earrings or a bracelet in that colour and wear it. What is your favourite feature? Is there a way to play it up? Have you worn your hair the same way for years? Consider trying something different. Cuts can be scary because if you don’t like it it takes a while to grow out, but go online and look up a new way to style the cut you already have. Is your hair thick, fine, wavy, fizzy, hard to manage? Talk to your hairdresser, there might be a product that will take care of thing you dislike. (I have super fine hair and dry wax saved it. It actually has a little body now. Who knew?)

    Feeling good about yourself takes time, feeling BETTER about yourself starts right now. Commit that you will not be one of the voices telling you that you are not enough. Be gentle with yourself. Only say good things to yourself. And if you can, see a counsellor. It can really help. I did not do that when I was your age and it has taken me years to sort out some of the lies I believed for so long. I know that counselling is scary, but we trust professionals to fix all sort of of other things – like our teeth, you’d never do your own dentistry – it makes sense to talk to a professional about this too.

    I want to hear how it goes. What good thing are you going to do for yourself today? I prayed for you just now and asked God to show you how much he loves you. I asked him to help you as you begin the work of thinking differently. I asked him to give you peace and for mercy as you sort things out. I promise you it gets better. It really, really does.

  • Tasha says:

    I’m a teenage girl dealing with a lot of self-image problems. I feel that my self-contempt puts a barrier between Christ and I, but I just can’t look at myself any differently. Ugly, awkward, and a terrible Christian– that’s all I can see myself as. I can’t go an hour without these things dragging me down, I swear. No matter what kind of day I have, at the end of the day, it’s the same feeling. It never fails to come back. How can I learn to ignore it?

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Marie, I think that un-learning the things that were said to us when we were young could be the work of a lifetime. I think it’s a bit like changing the way you eat, or quitting smoking – it’s not a decision that you make once, it’s a decision that you make over and over again. Every single time those thoughts come in to your head you have to choose to think differently. And that’s hard, but it IS possible. It’s exactly what Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians 2:5 “taking every thought captive”. You and I both know that thoughts and words – even the memory of them – are powerful things. They have the ability to harm but they also have the ability to heal.

    It is work to fight against the things that have been said to us, the words of the people who have tried to tell us who we are. Know that God does not agree with the people who say that you are not enough. He sees you as a women of incredible value, unique talents and divine purpose. You are not an afterthought or a mistake, an also-ran or a footnote. You did not just happen, you were created. My Mom likes to remind me that two people can join their bodies, but only God creates life. He made you on purpose, he made you FOR a purpose and he loves you more than either of us can understand.

    I have a little note pinned to my desk that says, “Feeling the fear she did it anyway.” I don’t know about you, but I know that for myself, for YEARS, I based a lot of my decisions on fear. If it was scary, I didn’t do it. I don’t like to fail so I tend not to try something unless I have a pretty good chance of being really good at it. Which when I actually stopped to look at it is a pretty crazy way to live. How do you ever grow or learn without trying? So I am trying to remember that now, and to be a little more willing to step into new things. You ARE good enough to be successful.

    It reminds me of this quote from Maryanne Williamson, famously borrowed by Nelson Mandela in his inauguration speech:

    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    As you grow in confidence, you’ll have a little extra to share with the people you meet who are not feeling so confident today. Learning to value ourselves is coming to terms with the idea that God really does see us, really does love us and really does have things that he wants us to do. Are you feeling a little bit of fear? Will you join me in doing it anyway?

  • Marie says:

    I find that I can totally relate with you on self-image/esteem, but I find myself once again not believing my worth, value, or even purpose. I know that this is something that I have struggled with most of my life because of the messages that was told me day in, and day out when I was growing up that I wasn’t “good enough”. I know that even years later ; I have had a better self view of myself ,but I find it hard seeing myself the way the lord see me. I think that am keep sabotaging myself up for failure because deep-down I don’t believe that am good enough to be succesful. I have realize that this a pattern that I don’t like in myself.

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Alex, I think that issues of self-worth and relationships are entirely genderless. Rejection, loss of relationship, that loneliness of having to start over, again, hurts just the same no matter who is receiving it. The struggle for so many people is that balance between rooting your self worth in something that does not depend on other people without completely cutting yourself off from other people. Human beings need companionship and when that is missing, it hurts. I’d give you the same advice I’d give anyone: are you being honest with yourself and honest with what you’re expecting from this other person? If any of us look for another person to be EVERYTHING we will be sorely disappointed. We are not one half of a soul divided looking for our other half. Each of us is a whole person, just as we are. Flawed and hopeful, searching and grounded. Many relationships fail because we’re looking for someone who will love us perfectly, who will know us intimately and will always do the right thing. But we’re people, and no person is perfect. Only God will always, always do what is very best for us. Love is not about finding perfection, it’s about finding someone you want to be with even when it all goes wrong. Maybe especially then. Love is in how we put the pieces back together, it’s in the person worth fighting for, the person to share everything with.

    So where does that leave us? If you can, take a look at these relationships that have not worked out. Is there a pattern? Do you get to a point where you get scared? Do you tend to go after the same kind of person? Do you attract one kind of person but want to be with another? Are you a different version of yourself when you’re dating? The short answer is “if what you’re doing isn’t working, do something else” but figuring out what that is exactly and how to do isn’t easy. And if you’re in a place where your self worth has already taken a beating, making a big change can feel about as doable as climbing Mt Everest.

    So my best advice to you: do something today that makes you happy. Buy an ice cream. Wear green. Pet a puppy. Rearrange your furniture. Walk somewhere pretty. Call your Mom. Change your haircut. Put your toes in the sand. Do something that makes you smile. And while you are smiling remember that you did not fall from the sky, you are not a by-product or left overs. You were created, hand crafted. God put you here, now, for a reason. Part of the work of life is figuring out what that reason is, but before you can do that you need to grab hold of the knowledge that you have worth and value because God made you on purpose. God looked at the world and saw that something was missing and put you in it. Hold that idea in your hands, roll it around in your brain until it starts to soak in. All our lives people try to tell us who we are, but ultimately, that’s our decision. Who do you want to be when you grow up? What is one step you can take toward that today? No go get that ice cream.

  • Alex says:

    Can you advise those of us men who are jolted by gay and/or straight men when they don’t “hang in there” and their lack of staying power in commitment to befriending you, leads to a loss of self-worth? What does one do when, in trying to find intimate friends and find guys to self-disclose and be transparent with, he loses himself and veers from the Ultimate Provider of love, namely, Christ. It is hard. As social beings craving friendly, dependable interaction from flesh and blood members of one’s own sex, but finding it elusive, can be disheartening and demoralizing. Even if you try and try and try over years to forge lasting friendships, they don’t happen, how do you overcome the cross of it all, and maintain self-worth?

  • Tisa says:

    This article is very helpful. I didn’t have a word for it but I guess those words are low self esteem. I know God loves me. I have been a Christian for a long time, but I still struggle with this. Keep me in your prayers please.

  • Makeda says:

    This is marvelous! God told me this article is for all! Every single being is a child of God therefore men must also do the same prayer of course change “…the kind of woman..” to “..the king of man…” This article is actually very true I did this maybe 2 months ago and God made me become who I am supposed to be, an author I wrote a book in a month because I asked my life source (God) to guide me to a life full of love and abundance and that is just what I got! Looking at this article for research for my next project! I love it, you are a fabulous and beautiful woman!

  • Tori says:

    Thank you! This has been really helpful to me.

  • Me says:

    What about men?

  • Dr.Sanjeev says:

    this is a nice article but it speaks only about women….what about men who have a low opinion of themselves? they too realize their true worth in Christ?

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