Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Self-Esteem Part 1: Why an Accurate Self-Concept Matters

Some extreme behaviors that result from an inaccurate view of “self” are: extreme pride and self-centeredness, chronic lying, absence from church and school, legalism, severe withdrawal from society, lower academic achievement, deep feelings of loneliness, workaholism, depression, poor mate selection, extreme self-criticism, substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, unreasonable fears, avoidance of intimate relationships and suicidal thinking and attempts.

Providing the right foundation for our children’s self-esteem is one of the many important things we do for them.  It is important because how we see ourselves affects the way we treat others and the way we allow ourselves to be treated.  The way we think about ourselves can often be traced back to our parents.  As resilient as children are they do not easily escape the effects of a parent who was unaware of their need for love and respect, grace and correction.  People who did not gain an accurate view of themselves in the early years often struggle for the rest of their lives trying to feel good about themselves.  

People who receive lots of praise from their environment may learn to depend on these abilities and the praise that comes with them.  So they put high pressure on themselves to maintain their abilities and they put high pressure on others to continue to affirm their abilities.  They feel good about themselves most of the time, but that feeling requires constant maintenance and can be lost if the talent or success is lost.  They also tend to struggle with pride because they believe that they earned their self-worth.

People who either receive regular criticism or simply do not receive any praise from their environment may respond by making a commitment to themselves to either become talented or convince themselves and others that they do possess talent, intelligence, or other qualities that make them worthy of value.  Or they may resign themselves to believing that they are worthless to the point of self-hatred.

When we look to external sources to provide our self-worth, there are some sinful, selfish coping mechanisms that we use in order to keep our self-esteem intact:

Convince ourselves that we are……..
Try to become……. so that we can be valuable.
Avoid deep relationships so that our inadequacies are not revealed.
Pressure others to give us the praise that we deserve.
Become defensive when our inadequacies are exposed.
Require others to believe that we are ………..
Become angry at anyone who does not believe that we are…..
Become hurt by anyone who does not believe that we are…
Compare ourselves to other people and allow it to make us feel better or worse about ourselves.
Feel depressed, angry or worthless when we fail or do not live up to our expectations for ourselves.

The next post will cover what the Bible says about how we should view ourselves.

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