I really wish low self esteem and insecurities were uncommon. Unfortunately, though, it seems to be a very common, nearly universal struggle. Here’s the thing about common, though: Common doesn’t mean it’s God’s design. God calls us to abundant life, and that is not a life lived in fear with low self worth. That’s why I wanted to write this post on how to overcome low self esteem and insecurities.
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What is self esteem? As defined by Wikipedia, Self-esteem is an individual’s subjective evaluation of their own worth.
When I was in school to become a nurse, we talked a lot about the difference between subjective and objective. Subjective data is based on personal feelings, or opinions. Objective data, on the other hand, is not at all influenced by personal feelings or opinions. It is fact. Evidence based.
If you’re suffering from low self esteem, you need to ask yourself a question. You need to ask yourself, “Who am I, really, and am I enough?” Here’s a spoiler alert… you are enough.
In this post, we are going to talk about my own fears, we’ll get to the spiritual roots of insecurity, and we’re going to talk about the truth of self esteem (and building self esteem). Of course, we are also going to talk about how to overcome low self esteem and insecurities.
My Own Struggle With Insecurity
I am not immune to struggles with insecurity and low self esteem.
As a child, I was afraid to speak to nearly anyone, or give an opinion on anything. I had a belief (for whatever reason), that I did not have a right to weigh in, and that no one really wanted to hear from me, anyway.
As a teenager, these feelings continued.
When went to nursing school, I remember having panic attacks before going into a clinical setting, feeling like I wasn’t good enough, or that I was fooling myself to think I could ever do this in the first place. I wanted to quit so many times, and it’s only by the encouragement of my parents and husband (and the fear of losing the money I invested in my education) that I ever finished.
Nursing school, while terrifying for me, was something I really needed to push me beyond what I felt my limitations were. It helped me to understand that the line called “personal limit” that I had drawn in my mind, wasn’t actually where I thought it was.
But was nursing school a cure all for my low self esteem or insecurity? Nope.
Insecurity as a Mother
When I became a Mom, my insecurities heightened. When they told us we could take our baby home from the hospital, I thought the staff must be crazy. They were trusting ME with this child?
What I didn’t realize at the time was that it wasn’t the hospital staff trusting me with my child… it was God.
God had entrusted a child to me. A tightly wound ball of insecurity had become a mother. This was when God really got to work on refining me, and pointing out the root of my insecurity.
Factors That Influence Self Esteem
There are a lot of things that contribute to our self esteem and the development of our insecurities.
CHILDHOOD & PAST EXPERIENCES
You stumbled on stage. Your father was abusive. Grandma was condescending. You were always picked last in PE. Math class made you sweat. Maybe you spent most of your childhood approval seeking.
We all start forming beliefs about self during the pivotal time of childhood. Childhood is the time when we start learning how to judge, compare, and possibly, seeking perfection from ourselves.
2. CULTURE & MEDIA
What are you seeing all around you? Women with perfect bodies and white teeth living a life that you think is better than yours. The mom on Instagram whose house always looks like it should be in a magazine. Even though she has 4 kids and a Labradoodle.
Maybe it’s looking at another marriage, and seeing a husband that looks perfect, a wife who has it “more together” than you. Or so you think.
Maybe you’re too conservative. Too liberal. Too introverted, too extroverted. Really, as far as you can tell, it seems there’s no right way to be. How can you even begin building self esteem… when you’re not even sure who you are or how you should be living?
3. FAMILY & FRIENDS
A supportive family and friend group can foster your healthy self esteem. However, even the most supportive family has moments that aren’t great. And your friends have probably said something hurtful to you at one time or another.
For myself, negativity makes more of an impact on my self esteem when it comes from someone I’m close to. My mind starts saying that, since they know and love me, this things they’re saying must really be true of me.
The truth is, that even people we love can unknowingly contribute to growing our insecurities.
I say something to my kids that I have to say to myself every now and then (we all need reminders). What I say is this: “Just because someone says something about you, that does not make it true.” Please remember that. Your identity is not found, or built upon what anyone believes about you. It is much, much deeper than that.
4. Belief System
Your beliefs about our world and God can have a dramatic effect on your self esteem and your development of insecurities.
I’m going to speak from a Christian view point, since I know many of you read this blog for that reason.
If you’re a Christian, assess if you’re “legalistic” or not. If you’re obsessed with following the “rules,” and if you’re hard on yourself when you don’t… that’s really damaging.
However, if you’re a Christian that truly understands grace, you will find so much more freedom. I don’t mean freedom to do whatever you want. That would be cheap grace.
I’m talking about the freedom you find in the costly grace of the gospel. Jesus died to save sinners like you and me. We’re not perfect, that’s why he had to do it. So, we live our lives in joyful, thankful obedience, in awe of his grace.
Not beating ourselves up because we have trouble believing his grace is enough.
Root of Insecurity
When you read the factors above that contribute to low self esteem and insecurity, one or two, or more, probably jumped out at you.
Perhaps you found your root of insecurity… or maybe you came to realize that for you, it was spiritual roots of insecurity.
Or maybe, you read the above, and you still can’t identify why you find yourself struggling with low self esteem and insecurities.
Whatever the case is for you, take a couple days and pray over this. Pray that God will reveal the root of your insecurities to you. Pray that he will show you how to find freedom from it, and to see the truth.
The importance of self esteem is huge. You can not function as fully in the life God has called you to if you’re operating only as a nervous shell of who God called you to be.
The good news is this: You need to understand that your identity doesn’t come from what other people think, or even your own misguided beliefs about yourself.
Your identity comes from God. Your identity is in Christ. And when you know that and believe this…. God heals low self esteem.
How to Overcome Low Self Esteem and Insecurities
You likely found this article because you’re looking for how to improve self esteem. You understand the importance of self esteem that is healthy, and you’re ready to make some changes.
Here is a list of 5 things you can do to overcome low self esteem and insecurities:
(1) STOP JUDGING OTHERS.
You might think I’m crazy for saying this, or perhaps you’re even offended that I would imply you judge others. But ask yourself… do you ever look at others and wonder why in the world they would post what they did? Why they would say what the did? Questioned their career choice or their outfit? Your insecurities are bolstered by the fact that you judge others. And since you judge others, you assume others are judging you. And maybe they are. But remember… just because someone says something or believes something. That doesn’t make it true. This applies to you, too. So stop judging.
(2) STOP COMPARING.
We are not meant to live lives that look exactly the same. We were created to complement each other with our strengths and weaknesses. Embrace and celebrate the strengths of others. And don’t forget to celebrate your own. Because you have a lot of strengths.
(3) Say Goodbye To Perfection
You’re not perfect, and neither am I. Yes, we will strive to live well and do our best. But don’t expect something impossible and unattainable from yourself.
(4) Understand your beliefs about yourself, and then replace those with your true identity
We’ve talked about this, so I won’t say anything more.
(5) Stop approval seeking
Why does it matter so much to us that everyone thinks we’re awesome? It shouldn’t. Live for God, and the rest will fall into place.
You Are Enough
Assess your insecurity, and ask yourself- from where are you looking for security?
Assess your self esteem, and ask yourself- Who are you looking to to build your self esteem?
Know this: You are enough. Find your security in Christ. Understand that your identity is in him, and that is unshakable.
You are enough. And if you don’t feel like you are yet, understand that you’ve been given the grace to grow. Don’t stay stagnant. Pursue what is greater.
Looking for more reading about this? You need to check out the book, “Free of Me,” by Sharon Hodde Miller.
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You might also enjoy this post from Kingdom Bloggers: “5 Ways to let go and give it to God.”