How do you feel about yourself? Are you likable? Do you think you are important or have value? These questions all deal with the way in which we think about ourselves; our self-esteem.
Two weeks ago we had a lecture on Attachment Theory. We talked about how our interaction with caregivers early in life influence the way we relate to others for the rest of our lives. These interactions cause us to form beliefs about ourselves and others and give us an overall understanding of how the world works.
Our beliefs about ourselves are tied into our self-esteem. If we feel good about ourselves, have confidence in ourselves, or generally like ourselves our self-esteem is high. If we dislike ourselves, feel that we have no worth, and don't believe we can do anything right then our self-esteem is low. Low self-esteem affects our mood, the way we act, and how we treat people. If we don't love ourselves we can never fully love others or allow others to love us. So how do we raise our self-esteem? How do we know what to believe about ourselves? And furthermore, what does God think about us?
An article I read by Stanley J. Gross suggest that people can do several things to raise their self esteem such as stopping self-destructive behaviors, practicing self care, slowing impulsive responses, learning essential life skills etc. By changing our actions and treating ourselves well we can improve our view of self.
But that is only the way we treat ourselves. How does God see us?
Another article from WikiHow speaks to changing our self esteem through God. Although it is a generally secular source, the article talks about how God loves all of us and died for our sins and then rose again from the grave three days later, conquering death. Because of this, God loves us and sees us as beautiful creatures. He delights in us and we have the power to accomplish anything through Him. The article encourages us to study the Bible and search for examples of God's love for us and our worth. By doing those things we can see ourselves through Him and become able to love ourselves more.
How Does this Relate to Counseling?
It is very important to understand how self-esteem works within a person. Many client's will come in with problems that in some way relate to how they view themselves. It will be imperative to be able to utilize secular methods and Christian methods in working through these issues with people. If we can help others understand that God thinks they are worth something and wants them to love themselves and have good working relationships they may be more prone to change. Using the secular resources can help that change take practical form and transform the way a person lives.
These articles pointed out practical ways in which someone could improve their self-esteem. In utilizing this whether in professional or lay counseling we can help people get a better, and more accurate, view of themselves. This improvement of self can help others change the way they interact within relationships and ultimately with God. If a person can love himself, they can be loved by God, and then love others.