People constantly talk about their self-esteem. Is it good, is it bad, is it healthy, overblown, or non-existent? It doesn't have to be confusing. A healthy self-esteem can be attained by taking a shortcut in 5 simple steps.
Now, I didn't say every step was easy for every person. I said simple, meaning achievable, do-able. If you do it. Here we go:
Know yourself. I'm not talking about your personality, or your choices, or what your friends think about you. I'm talking about getting to know what you think and feel before you put on the mask of personality and do what you think you should, or is expected, or is even just right. Discover you, warts and all. What makes you tick, gives you true joy, makes you feel ashamed, drives you onward in life? You can spend months, or years, in counseling, seeking mountain-top gurus, or piling up self-help books, but the quickest and easiest way I know to discover who you are, which is your God-created temperament, is through through an APS profile. APS stands for Arno Profile System and it involves an online response form that takes less than 10 minutes to complete. From this, the testing center uses a method proven to be 97.5% accurate at identifying your temperament, with all of its wondrous strengths and challenges. No more trying to figure out what you need in life from love, friendship, career, or recreation: it's all right there. Sure, I am a Certified Temperament Counselor and you may contact me at email@example.com for more information or to take the APS right away with your results in less than one day. Otherwise, just go to NCCA.org for a directory of counselors qualified to administer the APS profile. It's easy and because temperament does not change over time, as does your personality, it's a one-time investment in yourself that will continue to benefit you for the rest of your life.
Accept yourself. Don't use your temperament as an excuse for bad behavior ("Well, this is just how God made me so deal with it") but do celebrate the unique, wonderful, and truly one of a kind being that you are. Look, there are no more you's at the human store. You are it! Why not enjoy being yourself instead of trying to imitate what you think others want, expect, demand, or approve? Who decided they get to be the boss of you?
Love yourself. Again, this is totally within your control. Do you make a choice to embrace yourself and to love yourself today, or not? Do you think people are lining up to love other people who hate themselves? Not so much. So are you waiting for when you are a better person, a more lovable person, a healthier person? No, because that's how you begin to get better, lovable, and healthier: when you choose to accept and love yourself as you are right now. You love yourself as a human being who is worth love simply for existing. God says that before He formed you in the womb He knew you (Jeremiah 1:5) and that we love, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). He already declared you lovable so that is not even a question, it's an indisputable fact. So start loving yourself as a verb: being loving to yourself, being kind and gentle with yourself, treating yourself like a person treats someone they love. Stop waiting for permission. God already gave it.
Be yourself. Who else are you going to be? Everyone else is already taken. Start to laugh at your quirks instead of being embarrassed by them. Practice saying things like, "Yup, I can be klutzy," when you trip in front of others, or "Awkward..." when you flub an introduction, then shrug and move on. People enjoy being around someone who is comfortable making mistakes or doing things that might be embarrassing without making it the end of the world. They can then feel more comfortable admitting and laughing at their foibles as well. A person who can accept that they are in the midst of working through, or just accepting for a while, their weaknesses come across as more confident and capable than those who try to pretend they have it all together.
Forgive and forget yourself. Is it helping anyone to continue to punish yourself for something you cannot re-do or change? If you need to make amends or apologize to someone, get it over with and behind you. Ask God to forgive you. He promises that if you are sincere, He always and immediately forgives (1 John 1:9.) Jesus' whole purpose in offering Himself as the final sacrifice for sins was to provide a means of complete forgiveness to anyone and everyone who will simply ask for it. What a gift. So, if you have asked for forgiveness through Jesus, and you have apologized if appropriate to any person involved, what's the point of holding onto it any longer? You are free. Open the door and walk out of your prison. Then, start forgetting to think about yourself and what you want, need, wish for, desire, don't like, do like, etc. for most of the day. Think about what someone else would like, want, need, wish for, and see if you can make that happen once in a while. It's a whole lot more fun than me, me, me, forget you, me living!
So, that's it. Simple, right? Not necessarily easy, but the first step is the hardest and then it's all downhill from there! Know yourself so that you can truly accept yourself, begin loving yourself, and truly rock being yourself, and finally, forgive yourself. Healthy self-esteem...check!
Adapted from material by Tim Hansel, Christian Author, Founder of ignite!