Is self-esteem superficial? And thus, in a faith that puts others at the forefront, somehow wrong to place value upon?
Apparently, my question represents a battle that rages, especially within the christian counseling community. Many view low self-esteem as nothing more than an indicator of pathology, ignorable in the grand design of things or rightable with enough effort and enhanced cognitive processes (think CBT). However, many (myself included) sense that self-esteem (and its companion, self-awareness) is a (and sometimes THE) core issue in many a person's presenting pathology. For us, an improvement in self-esteem and one's perception regarding it would then be considered a necessary focus and force in any treatment plan (think Carl Rogers) …
Why? Because self-esteem is anything but superficial. It's valid. Like sex, it's core to identity (try not to think Freud). Our genuine and dis-ingenuine self are wrapped up within it … and there lies the tension that began in Genesis and continues today. Apart from God, we are not capable of full self-knowledge or self-revelation — after all, they are His dominion. Apart from God, born into sin, we sense voids within ourselves … and, yet designed for perfection, we subconsciously endeavor to find our's by filling that space. And in the attempts to fill, we lose authenticity in the inevitable dissatisfaction. And all our striving (and the impact of others') derails a proper perception of self. And so it goes: try, fail, try, fail …
Terrified of the void inside, we eventually become terrified of that which we tried to fill it with and then we grow hypersensitive to that filler, threatened by it, perhaps even overly passionate against it.
There is a direct relationship between authenticity and self-esteem. A direct relationship between a healthy self-esteem and an abundant life in Christ.
But, like I said, we're scared of the void. We keep busy to avoid acknowledging its existence, its genesis, its demands. We like being distracted from it. We can't take the time to acquaint ourselves with ourselves so that we can enjoy be ourselves …
But what if we did? What if we took the time. To live a FULL life instead of a half-life?
What if an authority figure asked you to take two hours this weekend to sit, alone, without your standard tech, in silence, with yourself? Would you do it?
Because your junk is going to come up. That void is going to show up. Even "worse"? The stuff you're using to fill the void? Yea, you'll have to face it. Whether it's co-dependency, food, sex, alcohol, church, pets, work, a full calendar, exercise … it'll beckon you during that period of solitude and silence.
I mean, I think it will.
But don't you think the possibility of a fuller life is worth the finding out?