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The paradox of self-esteem
By zoltib
12/18/2007 1:36:49 AM
I don't know if a low self-esteem would be considered an addiction, but in some ways it's just as damaging as an addiction.

One of the main problems with self-esteem is the paradox around improving your self-esteem. To solve a problem most people tend to think about the problem, come up with ways to approach it and then do something about it.

The problem with this approach to improving self-esteem is that the more you think about how much you dislike yourself, the more you dislike yourself! You find yourself re-hashing the justifications for your self hatred and even making up new ones.

I've heard it said that "If you can't love yourself, you can't love anyone else", and I completely and totally DISAGREE.

Anyone who says that has never experienced the paradox of hating yourself so much that you think the world would be better off had you never come along and being so in love with another person that you barely think about anything else.

The fact is that when you don't love yourself you don't let others get to know you because you don't want to disappoint them. You're afraid that they will discover the flaws you believe exist in yourself and will regret having met you. THAT is why it's hard to love other people when you have a low self-esteem. It is NOT because you are incapable of love as some would have you believe, it is because you are afraid of finding out that YOU ARE LOVABLE.

I've battled with self-esteem problems for as long as I can remember. Of course my addictions to porn and masterbation have just made it worse. Every time I relapse I go into beat-myself-up mode. I remind myself of all the times I've failed to do what I said I would do.

Something I realized about self-esteem problems tonight is that when we doubt ourselves, we are doubting our potential. We are doubting the word of God, we are doubting our faith.

What a paradox it is that I have a testimony of the plan of salvation, the fact that Jesus Christ performed the atonement so that I could be forgiven of my sins, but I hate myself. How exactly does that work? How is it possible for me to have the faith that God loves me enough to allow me to repent, but not the faith that I'm lovable?

So the question is, how do you improve your self-esteem, if thinking about it and focusing on it only makes it worse? I guess the same way that we are all trying to overcome our addictions - by admitting that we can't do it alone and asking God to help us realize who we really are and to let us feel his love.

Comments:

the self-esteem myth    
"The world seems to be going through a self-realization, self-fullfilment, self, self, self...thing as of the last 20 years or so. When we were born we were each born with a realization that God loved us and was mindful of us. This was our esteem. It was all we needed. Somewhere along the way we began to forget and as a result we began to look inward. OF COURSE, we fail time after time after time! We are flawed! We are supposed to be flawed. Somewhere along the way we forgot that it doesn't matter that we make mistakes because Heavenly Father loves us and is mindful of us and it is HIS JOB to perfect us. If we continually look at our mistakes and supposed failures it's no wonder we've come up with this notion of "low self-esteem" The only person in the picture is ourselves and our mistakes. But if we put God in the frame with us, sharing our inadequacies and shortcomings it paints a much different picture. It reveals how our mistakes and our failures are really the things that humble us and bring us to Christ and even though they leave sadness and remorse in hindsight we cherish these weaknesses for they are the very tools that allowed God to make us strong.

Self-loathing is nothing more than pride in reverse. We think we are beneath the power of Christ to heal. We pit our own judgemnet of ourselves against our Creator. During my first year clean, my sponsor would constantly remind me, "God doesn't make trash!"
I like to pretend I'm something of a musician. I wrote a silly song for a girlfriend of mine in high school. I put my whole heart into it and I just knew it would knock her socks off. When I played it for her I could tell she was only being kind and really thought it was quite pathetic. Man, my feelings were hurt! I imagine Heavenly Father might get the same tinge of sadness when we tell Him that one of His creations is worthless or laughable. He knows better. He knows we are flawed... He MADE us that way. He just wants us to keep trying."
posted at 20:20:37 on December 18, 2007 by Anonymous
I am the way...    
"I posted this a while back. It was an answer to this very question (at least for me).

2 Corinthians 12:7 — And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
2 Corinthians 12:8 — For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 — And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I always understood that when God promised in Ether to "make weak things become strong", by weakness He was referring to character flaws intended to be overcome with His help. I think now that God's view is different. The end, to Him is not for us to learn to overcome our sin, but rather to come to trust Him completely to do for us all that is needed - including taking away our sin. So my primary goal isn't the overcoming it is the "coming to Christ" that I care most about. If I do this, the Lord takes the addiction but also takes my everything else.

So here is the great news: That very state of imperfection that we beat ourselves up over, and feel guilty and unworthy about is actually something to not only be grateful for but also joyful about. Paul said, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities" because he understood. He understood that my inability to save myself from my sins brings humility that only a completely resigned sinner can have. This complete "weakness" or acknowledgement of and surrendering of my burdens to him puts me completely within His power - which makes me stronger than I could ever be otherwise. Thus "when I am weak, then am I strong".

So rather than seeing our weakness as a reason to beat ourselves up and feel discouraged, we can see them as a constant tool to bring us back to Christ. And when I see my weaknesses this way they aren't something to be ashamed of or discouraged about but rather joyful over because of what they do for me if I let them."
posted at 14:33:42 on December 21, 2007 by matt2
Thank you!    
"Thank you both for your thoughtful replies. I appreciate that you've taken the time to share your experience and understanding of the gospel with me.

Ive heard it said many times that the Atonement can remove all of our character flaws and weaknesses, I guess I've never realized that it includes self-esteem problems as well. At my last support group meeting I shared pretty much the same thing that I wrote in this post and after one of the facilitators shared with me his experience with having self-esteem improve by taking the focus off of himself and praying for and taking advantage of ways to serve others. When the focus is no longer on yourself, the problem can be healed.

I'm going to start praying for ways that I can serve others and quit focusing on myself."
posted at 23:13:08 on December 23, 2007 by zoltib


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"Are you battling a demon of addiction—tobacco or drugs, or the pernicious contemporary plague of ography? Whatever other steps you may need to take to resolve these concerns, come first to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Trust in heaven’s promises. In that regard Alma's testimony is my testimony: "I do know," he says, "that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions."

— Jeffrey R. Holland

General Conference, April 2006