Developing a Healthy Self-Concept, Part II
"Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought."1
A healthy self-concept is central to one's success in life. It is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. Their self is a gift from God, but their self-concept is pretty much in our hands. However, if we parents fail to love and accept ourselves in a healthy sense, we cannot help our children develop a healthy self-concept because we cannot give what we don't have. Furthermore, without a healthy self-concept we become our own worst enemy.
While God's Word says we are not to think too highly of ourselves, it doesn't mean that we are to think too lowly of ourselves and have a poor self-image or a bad self-concept. We need to see and accept ourselves as God sees and accepts us which will give us a very healthy-self concept. So how then can we overcome a poor self-concept and/or make a good self-concept better?
First, we need to be real. Many of us are afraid that if we are known as we really are, we won't be liked, so we pretend to be something we are not. People may like the mask or the false front or happy face we wear, but this will never make us feel loved because what they like is not the real us. We can only be loved to the degree that we allow ourselves to be known for who we are.
Second, to be real I need to be connected to my dark side which is the side of me that is hidden, often from my self as well as from others. It is that part of me that I am ashamed of or feel embarrassed or guilty about—often a major cause of why I don't like or reject myself.
The dark side may or may not be anything that I have done that is bad. It can be parts of me that were rejected when I was small, or it maybe where somebody has done something hurtful to me somewhere in my past. For instance, if somebody consistently put me down when I was a child and made fun of my ears or anything else—and I buried those hurtful feelings—I need to get in touch with that pain and express it to a loving friend or counselor to have that side of me accepted.
Or, if I was rejected or abused either physically, emotionally, or sexually in any way, that experience also needs to be brought into the light and the pain and anger resolved before I can fully love and accept myself. In fact, all painful memories and unresolved feelings of guilt, shame, anger, fear, hurt or grief need to be brought into the open and resolved so I can be freed from my past and forgive those who have hurt me. Unresolved, these supercharged, repressed negative emotions are barriers that stop me fully loving myself and others.
To be concluded ...
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to see myself as you see me and love and accept myself as you love and accept me so I will become a healthier, more contented and loving person. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Romans 12:3 (NIV).