Recently, a lovely young woman approached me after church and asked if we could hang out and discuss life. She had some concerns she needed a second opinion on, so over a cup of coffee and many laughs, we sat down and chatted about love and dating and singleness. I carefully watched her as we conversed, and while the woman clearly radiated joy, she also came across as fragile and insecure – as if she was just waiting for someone to reject her. Why was her self-image so far off from the lovely woman I experienced?
Her demeanor saddened me because she didn’t recognize in herself what I saw in her. She perceived unworthiness where I saw beauty, kindness and intelligence. As we talked, I tried to reiterate her value and worth and hoped my affirmations might stick, but I know self-esteem isn’t fixed by a few measly compliments. If she wanted to see a different woman in the mirror, she had to view herself from a different lens.
Often in life, we are our own worst enemy, playing the Simon Cowell in our very own version of “American Idol.” We take on the role of harshest critic and berate ourselves while bestowing grace to others. And because of this, we walk around feeling lonely and miserable. When our self-esteem drops, simple criticism from others throws us into a state of agony because we are already so hard on ourselves. At that point, there is little room for more criticism, and these toxic tendencies steal our happiness and joy in life.
Increasing your self-esteem based on who God says you are can dramatically reframe your perspective on life. This involves recognizing who God says you are – a beautiful and loved child of the creator of the universe. You also need to acknowledge and minister to your own needs, accept your strengths and weaknesses, celebrate your positive qualities and make choices that enhance your personal wellbeing.
Embracing Your True Self
Accepting who you are can be tough, especially if you’ve been hard on yourself for years. But with God’s help, you can boost your confidence in a healthy way. Here are some tips for growing in confidence through Christ:
- Talk nicely to yourself and become your own fan. Ditch the negative thoughts like “I’m so stupid” or “I’ll never amount to much” and replace it with positive and encouraging statements. Find verses to memorize that lift you up and fill you with courage. Repeat after me: “With Christ, all things are possible!”
- Remember to keep moving. Consistent physical activity wards off depression, fatigue and sickness while lifting your mood and ability to cope with stress.
- Acknowledge your own needs. Stop putting everybody else first! While God tells us to be a foot-washing and humble servant, he doesn’t tell us to be a self-sacrificing martyr (Bible heroes like John the Baptist get a pass here). Take care of the temple he gave you. Get adequate rest, take care of personal hygiene, carve out quiet time, set boundaries, eat healthy and stimulate your brain by connecting with others.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. When feelings of insecurity plague you, you will more than likely replay old conversations and overanalyze people’s motives. You will overthink your behavior and lead yourself right down a rabbit hole into anxiety. Remind yourself that you are human and imperfectly wonderful and then move on. While it is healthy to pray and reflect for spiritual growth, it’s also destructive to beat yourself up over every little thing.
- Be proud of who God made you to be, because you are one of a kind. Allow yourself to be an individual with unique preferences, thoughts and beliefs, and don’t ever apologize for your differences; instead, celebrate your idiosyncrasies, because they are what makes you special. My husband Tim is the most interesting man I’ve ever met – a true character of sorts who is quirky and knows exactly what he likes. And truthfully, his self-confidence is what drew me to him.
Remember, we can’t control other people in life and how they perceive us, but we can control our attitude. Don’t forget who God made you to be! He certainly hasn’t. Be proud of your distinct YOU-ness.
You may also be interested in How To Preach The Gospel To Yourself When You Have Negative Thoughts