Developing a Healthy Self-Concept, Part III
"So get rid of your feelings of hatred [malice]. Don't just pretend to be good! Be done with dishonesty and jealousy and talking about others behind their backs ... put away all evil, deception, envy and fraud. Long to grow into the fullness of your salvation."1
In answering the question on how to build a healthy self-concept we have said that first we need to be real; that is to be truly honest with our self. Second, to be real we need to be connected to our dark side so that we are aware of and in touch with those areas in our life that we would be embarrassed for others to see. This brings us to our next point.
Third, we learn self-love. As the Bible teaches, we love God because he first loved us.1 While this can be very difficult and threatening to grasp, we love other people and ourselves in exactly the same way. That is, we need someone to first love us because love is a skill to be learned.
If I didn't feel loved or sufficiently loved as a child, it's not likely that I will feel loved as an adult. To overcome, I need somebody to love me first. As I get connected to my dark side and share all these wounded parts of me with at least one or two safe people, as they love and accept me as I amówarts and all, little by little I learn to love and accept myself. (Safe people are those who know me and still love me and will not reject, judge, or try to fix or change me when I share my real self with them.)
Fourth, it is imperative that I resolve any and all unresolved feelings of hatred (stored up anger) and all other repressed negative emotions. As the Bible says, "Get rid of your feelings of hatred and don't just pretend to be good." We don't get rid of these damaging emotions by repressing and denying them. They need to be brought out into the open and resolved in healthy ways. Repressed they are destructive to healthy living, healthy relationships, and to having a healthy self-concept.
Fifth, I need to live in harmony with healthy moral and ethical values based on God's standards, and maintain clearly defined boundariesóthat is, ensure that I live by my values and don't allow boundary-busters to violate my personal boundaries. When I live this way, I feel good about myself. And when I don't, I don't feel good about myself!
Sixth, it is also imperative that I forgive all whom I feel have hurt or offended me. Failing to forgive keeps me bound to my past and trapped by my unresolved negative feelings.
Seventh, the ultimate in self-love and acceptance is to feel connected to God and know/experience his love and affirmation at the very core of my being. This begins by confessing our dark side and our sins to God, asking for his forgiveness and accepting his Son, Jesus Christ, into my heart and life as personal Lord and Savior. And then, as we take the above steps to improve our self-concept and reach out and love other people, more and more we experience God's love. As God's Word says, "If we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us."2
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to resolve all my negative emotions and attitudes, forgive all who have hurt me, live in harmony with your will, grow up into the fullness of my salvation so that I will develop a God-honoring healthy self-concept and be a clear channel for your love to flow through to every life I touch. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 1 Peter 2:1-2 (TLB).
2. I John 4:19.
3. I John 4:12.