Midlife Dimensions

www.MIDLIFE.com

We hope you've found our website to be helpful and encouraging. You can play a big part in the lives of others by supporting the upkeep of midlife.com, and our chat room, with a tax-deductible donation of any amount, big or small. Thank you for being a part of our team!

Choose your donation level:
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Self-Worth At Midlife

Building a Positive Self Esteem...

Dr. James Dobson said, "The lack of self-esteem produces more symptoms of psychiatric disorders than any other factor yet identified."

Some studies show that even before birth we begin to receive impressions of our future world. After our birth we begin the life-long process of assessing who we are in the light of our environment and people's response to us.

We begin to think of ourselves in positive or negative ways depending on how other people value us. If we are rarely touched, given frequent negative commands, and live in a hostile environment, then we begin to believe that we're not wanted, not valued, and that the world is a difficult place.

This negative assessment may cause us to mistrust people and later God. We may become very critical of ourselves and other people. At the same time, we may become workaholics and perfectionists, trying to win approval and love.

Usually a person's self-esteem tends to improve more as they age. They learn more skills, have more life experience, and they meet many different people.

However, at midlife, many people experience several negative factors which sometimes cause a sharp downturn in their view of themselves. It could be a single event such as loss of a job, divorce, a broken relationship with a son or daughter--or a combination of internal and external factors.


Often we find people relating to God inadequately as adults because they are still saying, "He could never be interested in a person like me," or "I don't think I'm good enough to get that job."



The point to remember is that to function effectively, people need to value themselves--to have a positive self-image.

Why High Self-Esteem Is Vital

The Bible says, "As a man thinks in his heart so is he" (Luke 6:45). Think back over your life. Whatever you have achieved, and whatever choices you made have been strongly related to what you thought of yourself--or what you thought you could accomplish.

The choice of your friends, career, your marriage partner, how you raised your children, and your relationship with God all have grown out of your view of yourself.

Remember that childhood crush, but you wouldn't act on your attraction, "They would never be interested in a person like me." Those same limiting factors which effect your self-image also control the adult friendships and the other major and minor choices in your life.

Often we find people relating to God inadequately as adults because they are still saying, "He could never be interested in a person like me," or "I don't think I'm good enough to get that job."

Your view of yourself has not only dominated your past, but will continue to control your present and future. For example, how do you handle conflict--do you fight, compromise, or run? It's strongly linked to what you think of yourself.

Your basic personality type is also affected. Are you an aggressor? A confidante? Are you the martyr type or assertive? Do you compete? Do you teach? Your self-image will have an impact on whether you get involved in an affair or not. Your self-esteem is also going to effect your future evaluation at retirement and at the end of your life.


However, many people try to be humble by saying they're worthless, ungifted, unattractive, inept, slobs. That is not humility. Those statements are only degrading what God has created.



If you have had a positive view of yourself, then you probably will have lived up to most of your potential--and your assessment of your life's work will essentially be positive.

If, however, your low self-image has kept you from accomplishing much in life, then you may be a very critical or angry person, wishing you had accomplished more. Your view of yourself strongly effects your total life.

A Balanced Biblical View Of Ourselves

Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." This implies that we already love ourselves--that we already love what God has created in us.

People who feel uncomfortable with discussions of self-image frequently are afraid that we will become proud. Pride in a biblical sense is when we begin to claim that who we are is a result of our own effort. However, if we say, "Thank you God for the intelligence and perception you've given me. Thank you for my physical attractiveness, for the personality which you've developed, and for my gifts and abilities." When we claim God as the author, then we are not proud.

However, many people try to be humble by saying they're worthless, ungifted, unattractive, inept, slobs. That is not humility. Those statements are only degrading what God has created. It is counter to what the scripture teaches.


The Holy Spirit living in us reinforces that fact that God doesn't think of us as junk.



Think of these verses from the Bible which tell us how much God values us.

1. Creation. "So God made man like his maker" (Genesis 1:27). "It is God himself who has made us what we are" (Ephesians 2:10a). You aren't dirt on the floor. You aren't the after-birth which they saved by mistake when they threw the child away. You are a valuable person whom God has created.

2. God's value of us expressed in redemption. God does not want to condemn us--but to redeem us. "God did not send His son into the world to condemn it, but to save it" (John 3). This redemption was promised before the world ever began (see Titus 1:2 and Ephesians 1:4).

3. Daily expression of God's valuing of us. "His presence within us is God's guarantee that He really will give us all that He has promised . . . ." (Ephesians 1:14). The Holy Spirit living in us reinforces that fact that God doesn't think of us as junk.

4. God's life plan for us. "We confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be" (Romans 5:1-9). You are not a biological accident. God knows you and has a special plan for your life.

Additional passages you might like to look up are teachings on the importance of each member in the Body of Christ: Ephesians 4, I Corinthians 12, Psalm 1:3 which reinforce the fact that we are unique people with a unique contribution to make in the world.

Praising God for the special and great creation which He has brought about in you is not pride--it is a biblical expression of a positive self-esteem.

Building A Positive Self-Esteem


Remember that God values you. Psalm 139 says, "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about."



Let's suppose the person with the low self-esteem is a friend of yours and you are going to help them develop a positive view of themselves. Here are some of the things you might want to do.

1. Help your friend assess their strong points, their actions, and qualities. Help them make a list. Make sure the list includes qualities of life not just functions. Help them see that they are both a sensitive person (quality) and that sensitivity is shown in their caring for troubled people (action).

Helping the person to understand their strengths will be more important in the long run than understanding their functions--although they need to see both. Actions will continue to change as they age, however, qualities of their character should continue.

After you have helped the person assess themselves, then assure them that these things are true. Keep on affirming and complimenting them. Keep challenging them to receive your compliments and affirmation. If the affirmation is not received--then it will be just so much water off the duck's back.

2. Help them accept themselves. There are things which your friends cannot change about themselves, for example, their height. But they may be able to alter some things about themselves (their weight). Accepting ourselves does not mean we don't want to change, but it means we take responsibility for who we are right now--not denying who we are, or blaming someone else.

Encourage your friend to be patient, yet make specific plans to modify anything in their lives which they would like to improve.

Help them see that accepting themselves means some parts of their life will never be what they want them to be. Those areas of life must be trusted to God and His sovereign work in our lives. God has a purpose even for those painful areas of our lives.

3. Help them to appreciate themselves. Humility is not cutting themselves down or not using their talents. It is acknowledging the source--God. We glorify God when we don't waste what he has created.

Help your friend to see that when they appreciate themselves’ and the special unique person that they are, then they are freed up to make a greater impact. Their energy is not consumed on the internal frustration of self depreciation.

People who are able to appreciate themselves, with their imperfections, are also able to appreciate others with their imperfections. As we value another person we will be part of that chain reaction which causes them to blossom and value themselves as a special creation of God.

Why not find a friend who needs to have a more positive self-image and the two of you encourage each other to become all that God has planned for you to be.

Remember that God values you. Psalm 139 says, "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. How precious it is, O Lord, to realize that You are thinking about me constantly! I can't even count the many times a day your thoughts turn toward me. When I awaken in the morning, You are still thinking of me!"


Conway / Farrel Articles ~    Reprint by permission only,  ©2011

Midlife Dimensions ~ www.Midlife.com

  

The Conways and Farrels are international speakers and popular authors.

Midlife Dimensions is a ministry founded by the Conways and continued by the Farrels.