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What is Self-Esteem?

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  • April 12, 2004 /
  • by Stonebriar Counseling Associates /
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Self-esteem or self-image is the view a person holds of himself. It is the basic components of human identity. A solid sense of self-worth is not something we can take or leave. It’s something everyone needs. As a counselor I listen to the pain or hurts of people who are struggling. Here’s what I hear: “I blew it. I’m a failure…. I’ve been abused. I’m a victim… I gave in again. I’m an addict…. I’m alone. I’m just a loner… I can’t lose weight. I’m unattractive.” Unhappiness and despair often coexist with low self-esteem. Low self-esteem comes in different forms. Those vulnerable to depression often feel they are falling short of their hopes. Television, radio, magazines, movies, billboards-all convey the same message-the finer things in life are reserved for those who have the right jobs and social status. Instead of rewarding honesty, integrity, courage, craftsmanship, motherhood, loyalty, and personal maturity, society applauds and perpetuates an endless, fruitless message of searching for becoming rich and famous. Second, those vulnerable to anxiety often feel they are falling short of what they ought to be. We all have some desire to be part of a group and to experience affection. When that need is unmet, the pangs of loneliness and rejection are very strong. Sometimes our self-concept is unconscious when it is too painful to face what we really think about ourselves. The person who drinks excessively in order to “get courage” to fulfill obligations may rarely admit that he or she does not like him- or herself. Sometimes that estimate is accurate; sometimes it is not.Whether it’s excessively drinking pill taking, highlevels of generalized anger, self-pity, excessive shyness, loudness at parties, or, a martyr-like attitude may in essence be manifesting from a low self-image. Sometimes it is conscious. At other times, it is unconscious. The correlation of how we feel about ourselves can be traced to the belief that we are deeply motivated to belong to someone and/or feel important part of something. When Adam fell, the need to belong and the need for self-esteem became one of the most prominent driving forces of personality. Many try to meet their needs in their own way rather than the positive ways that God has designed so as to produce happiness and fulfillment. Therefore if low self-esteem is a feeling of worthlessness then a key component of human identity is an underlying sense that one is of worth and value.

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