4 Steps to Start Feeling Better About Yourself
The biggest obstacle to feeling good about yourself is condemnation. If you’re like most people you’re probably adept at picking yourself apart and taking notice of everything that’s wrong with you. Do you ever feel bad that you’re not smart enough, not pretty enough, not the ideal weight, or you don’t make enough money, don’t parent as well as you should, or aren’t the kind of son or daughter you should be? We’ve all been there.
So how do you overcome feelings of failure and start feeling better about yourself? Most people would tell you that in order to feel better about yourself you have to work on improving your self-esteem. Unfortunately, that advice couldn’t be more wrong.
And here’s why.
It’s actually impossible to improve and maintain esteem in yourself.
The bible teaches that before people become Christians, their minds are darkened and their spirits are dead because of sin (Ephesians 4:18, Romans 7:9). It’s what Paul refers to as having a “sinful nature” (Romans 7-8). So, whenever people try to employ tactics to make themselves feel better, they start a battle they can never actually win.
For example, if you struggle with addiction, you may have tried to stop before only to fall back in to old habits. You may have even told yourself, “It’s not that bad. After all, it’s my life. I’ll live it how I want.” You’re trying to make yourself feel better, but you can’t feel that good about yourself, when your “self” is messing up your life and hurting the people around you.
Yet that’s what happens to all of us when we’re governed by our sin nature. We tell ourselves we’re OK, and that we should feel good about ourselves, but we can’t feel good about “self”, when “self” has a problem — and a huge one at that!
“Self” apart from Christ is tainted with sin and that sin resides in us and causes us to do any number of horrible things on any given day. The worse part is the more bad things we do, the more we feel bad about ourselves. It’s a painful cycle that’s difficult to quit.
But if you want to finally solve the issue of low self-esteem, here’s what you can do to overcome it:
1.) Accept the sacrifice of Jesus
When you accept that Jesus sacrificed his life so you could live, the bible teaches that your spirit gets reborn (John 3:3-5). That means that your old spirit, which was marred in sin, dies, and your new spirit, which connects to Jesus, comes to life.
What does this mean for your self-esteem? It means that you no longer have to look to a “self” that is corrupted by sin to find your value (of which none would be found). You now have a new “self” that is clean like Jesus, which means your value is defined by his goodness and not your actions.
2.) See Yourself as He Sees You - Righteous
The bible refers to Christians in countless passages as “righteous” (2 Corinthians 5:21). But because this state of being exists only in an unseen realm (your spirit), you can’t really see righteousness with any physical evidence. Add to that the fact that your actions don’t always look righteous, and you may start having a lot of doubts about whether or not your salvation experience was real.
So to really see yourself as righteous, the bible gives explicit instructions about how and where to look for righteousness and what to do when you find it. Take a look at James 1:25:
“But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom, and continues to do so—not being a forgetful hearer, but an effective doer—he will be blessed in what he does.”
James says that believers need to continue to look at the perfect law of freedom and be effective at doing what it says.
Now, don’t confuse this with the idea that if you do good things, you’ll be righteous. Remember, righteousness is a state of right-believing, not of right-doing.
But what James is saying is that a believer should look intently on the righteousness Jesus provided him, remember it, and live it out.
3.) Understand that God has mercy for you when you make mistakes.
One of the most beautiful characteristics of God is his mercy. The bible teaches that God “…doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve…” (Psalm 103:10), that he’s “…slow to anger and rich in love” (Psalm 145:8), and that Jesus is the express image of God (Hebrews 1:3).
Although a lot of people refer to God’s wrath when they think about God, the bible teaches that God’s nature is love (1 John 4:8). Jesus himself spent so much time with people people of questionable character that he became known as a “friend of sinners” (Matthew 11:19).
Prostitutes, traitors, thieves, and even self-righteous religious people were all met with God’s love and forgiveness whenever they recognized their need for help and received what Jesus had to offer. The bible is full of countless stories of messed up people who received forgiveness when they came in contact with Jesus, and if God’s nature never changes (Hebrews 13:8) that means that he still offers same mercy today for anyone in need of forgiveness.
4.) Learn to forgive yourself.
The last step to feeling better about yourself, and one of the most important, is learning to forgive yourself. As we’ve already discussed, your value is established by God’s view of you, not the image you have of yourself.
Since God’s value for you is based upon the positive, intrinsic love he has for all his children, he never looks at your behavior or performance to establish your value to him. If he did, then he would constantly be reevaluating your worth each time your behavior fluctuated, making his love for you conditional instead of an eternal part of his nature.
The bible teaches that God and his attributes don’t shift around based on external factors (James 1:17). So if God has chosen to forget your sins (Isaiah 43:25), you should do the same. Since God chooses to love you in spite of your behavior, then in order to begin feeling better about yourself, you must choose to see yourself from his perspective, too.
Even when your behavior is less than perfect, his love for you remains the same. When the reality of that truth really sinks into your soul, you’ll never feel bad about yourself again.