I've been thinking a lot about self-esteem lately.  Probably because I feel like I've been struggling with my own. I used to feel super self-confident.  Of course I was also able to avoid a lot of the things I wasn't good at.  

I read a book a while back called the Self-Esteem Trap by Polly Young-Eisendrath.  In the book she addresses our culture's pervasive belief that "every child, teen and adult should be special, a winner, with the potential to be great" and how this "expectation is founded on the illusion that everyone has an extraordinary potential for creativity or genius or achievement that needs only to be unlocked in order for greatness to happen." The caution she offers is that by believing we can be good, even great at anything and everything, we set ourselves up to be disappointed.  When I read the book I spent most of my time thinking about how other people in my life fit that description but honestly didn't pay a lot of attention to how I, in my own way, have a skewed view of self-esteem. 

I was always told that I was special (not discounting special as good) and that I could, with hard work and belief in myself, do anything I wanted.  As much as these are beautiful and helpful things to hear it wasn't exactly true.  True I am special, this is just fact *grin*. And granted, I'm good at a fair chunk of stuff so no complaints there.  But I'm aslo pretty bad at a lot of things i.e., drawing, stress management, self-discipline, keeping my house clean, getting the laundry out of the wash before it starts to stink, ironing in a timely fashion, staying calm when I'm tired, math, recalling basic scientific concepts like say...gravity, remembering anything, celebrating anyones birthdays, being rational after 9PM, etc.  

I try not to, but I end up comparing myself to others which is about as helpful as using mosquito netting as a rain-fly. Is nagging negative self-esteem a curse of reality?  I mean let's face it, someone else will always be better at (pick a flavor) than me.  

I want to shut off the voice in the back of my brain that tries to convince me I'm not ok just being who I am and where I am at any given moment.  I want to trust that on the days I feel crappy about my contributions to society, I will be more impressive another day.  I want to understand that who I am in the world isn't as important as who I am.  I want to believe that my gifts will be revealed and that my faults and shortcomings won't really do that much damage.  

So how do I find a way to ease myself into remembering that self-esteem is actually more about knowing what I'm good at AND bad at, heck even the stuff I'm simply mediocre at, and being okay with all of it?  How do you find confidence in yourself so that your thoughts don't turn into self-berating bitch sessions?

How about you?


  1. I thought I'd share this tid bit of thought.... I'm still pondering. Thanks Paul!!

    Hey Sara,
    I don't think self-esteem is totally tied into what we are good or bad at. Not always helpful. Self-esteem is not really a Christian concept. I rather use the term, "real esteem". It has to do with know "Who and Whose we are". And it's an honest assessment of our nature as God sees us and values us. I wonder whether you've bought in on a therapeutic model of self assessment, vs. a theological model.


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