There are two kinds of the love of self, one healthy the other not.
We are talking here about a healthy self-regard.
People who are constantly down on themselves tend to do things that make them even less satisfied with themselves. It is a vicious, downward spiral. This self rejection may be brought on by negative messages as we are growing up, possibly because parents, siblings or friends have little self-respect themselves and take it out on children. Whatever the factors leading to this state of mind, it is very dangerous and very much against the will of God.
The Psalmist says that we are wonderfully made Psalm 139:14, and Jesus told the people that he taught them so that their joy would be full John 15:11. Our joy is not full when we do not respect ourselves.
We might feel that other people are responsible for our low opinion of ourselves. They may have been a factor. As adults we need to take responsibility for correcting that situation. Here are some of the ways we can do it:
- Notice the things that we do that damage our self-esteem. This could involve observing our behavior, such as how little we do for other people, or how we engage in negative talk about others. We might find that we do a lot of things in life that erode our ability to honor ourselves. Once we become aware of these things, we can start the process of correcting them. One dramatic example is people hurting their physical health by addictive or self-destructive behavior.
- Another area to notice includes our self-talk. Imagine if someone wrote down all the negative things you say to yourself (You idiot, why cant you get anything right?,you are a loser, etc.). It is really important to replace this inner dialogue with more encouraging words. Just as it is very hard to succeed at a task if someone is looking over your shoulder criticizing your every move, it is hard for us to think well of ourselves if we are doing the criticism of ourselves.
- A third area for work is paying attention to the activities in your life that enhance your good feelings about yourself. If you note parts of your life that make you feel better about yourself you can put more effort into those, and let go of the ones that drag you down.
We invite you to find things to do in these categories that improve your self-image.