Tuesday, November 29

THE RULES OF SELF ESTEEM


©2016- Birthplace Mentoring School (BPMS)
This post was originally written for Broken Stilettos mentoring class designed to help women walk in wholeness.
Suitable for all gender and ages

The term esteem refers to respect and admiration typically for a person.  Self esteem refers to some one’s overall judgement/evaluation of one’s self based on their beliefs.
Most people seem to have no idea of their worth until events begin to unfold and eventually create impressions in their hearts. These impressions could be healthy or unhealthy and eventually become their beliefs. However, nothing is permanent in life. Therefore their beliefs about themselves (self esteem) go from great to worse or from worse to great over time.

Why do we need to talk about self esteem?
According to Jose’-vincent (1997), self esteem reveals how we view ourselves and the sense of our personal value. It affects the way we are, act and relate with everybody else.  
If a two-word complex affects how we are, act and relate with others, I believe it is important.
Now as women, we go through a lot of experiences that shapens our perception and forms what we believe about ourselves.  Infact as children, we used to compare our shoes, ribbons, clothes and dolls wth those of our friends. We thought the shiny/fancy things were better and that the girls with the shiny/fancy things were worth more than us.  True or false?

 This belief translated into our teenage years, we thought the girls who had the boys were of less moral standard or were better (depending on your self esteem) and for most women, it follows into their marital/career years. They compare marriages, husbands, children and career advancement. In short, our self esteem is under perpetual pressure.

I’ve personally had moments when I felt less of myself.
One of those was when I had to re-write the WASSCE because I dint credit mathematics. I had been preparing for the exam ever since I stepped into SS 1.  I had studied hard for my JSSCE and got favoured my labour with a basket of straight A(z). I was determined to have the same record in my SSCE.
Life happened, I became ill during our SSCE and it turned out our core subjects were cancelled. We had to re-write those papers. News circulated that the papers leaked. I didn’t see. My colleagues attended revision classes with our teachers but I was often in the hostel battling for my life during those revision classes. I eventually didn’t credit mathematics.
I felt less of myself. I felt inferior. I felt terrible. I totally forgot about moments when I topped the class. I allowed WASSCE to define me.

I went through severe depression for months. Mind you, I was born again already. In fact I got saved at 9 and I was 16 at the time.  So we are talking about 7 years of “Christian growth” but not maturity because the mature knows that their worth is not in events, achievements or other people.
I told God he had failed me (Ever said that to Him before?).
Did I mention that I made a vow to serve him for the rest of my life if he gave me straight A(z) in JSSCE? He did. I saw it worked and I made another vow to serve him for the rest of my life if I topped my class throughout SS1. He made it so. I didn’t make those vows in SS 2 and SS 3. I was more concerned about my WASSCE.
So when my result had the mathematics dent, I told him He failed. I cursed saying he was wicked. Why didn’t he fail me in those classes and helped me sit for WASSCE once. I was bitter. I went to church for like 4 months out of compulsion (because my parents were/are ministers).
I kept saying, “after all I did for you at school.” I forgot that he gave me the power to do them.

Quick Note: Academic excellence is a product of being studious. However, i acknowledge that Grace does assist. So students must both study and pray. I did. So please do.

(Laughs) God is amazing my dear.

Did you know His love never left me? He kept whispering my name. I’ll hear and block my ears and curse some more. Note again, I was already born again o. I had tasted raw manifestations of his power and love but this one incident was about to change my story.

Then one faithful day, I was alone in the house. I heard him clearly, “Annie, I do not intend to struggle with you any further. Pick up your bible, see Job 40”.

My beloved, I read Job 40. It is one chapter that magnifies God and sets him way off our level. That was the day I began to call him, “The God who is in a class of His own”.
He showed me he wasn’t my level and that He had to be the boss if I must become what He wants. He reminded me that the enemy wanted me dead and that WASSCE wasn’t a definition of my worth. I still couldn’t relate with how WASSCE wasn’t a definition. I’ve been used to been called Intelligent, hot head, and all the other brainy names. How could WASCCE not define me? I wasn’t sure God knew what He was saying.

Mind you, I had countless dreams, visions, and trances during those sick moments at school which revealed that there were severe negotiations going on over my life and ministry. I was just 16 remember, and didn’t know the Birthplace or her sub-ministries. I only knew that God said He would use me.

To cut short a long story, Job 40 and the following chapters made my head straight and then God began to question me.
1.    When you said you will serve me for the rest of your life if I helped you get straight A’s in JSSCE did I do it? I said yes.

2.    When you made the same vow in Senior school one (SS1) did I honour you? I said yes. He then asked, “So what life did you give me a second time. Isn’t it the same life?” I said same.
He Laughed and said I didn’t do it because of the vows because I already own your life. I did it because I wanted to.
I was quiet at this point. He continued.
1.    “Annie, you can’t become whom I want based on your own conditions. It has to be my way.”

2.    Your achievements don’t define you.
It took me years to heal from the pain of my WASSCE despite all the Lord explained.
Guess what?!
I registered as an external candidate in another school. I kept remembering I was a head girl in my school and now I have to wear uniform to follow instruction. It was humiliating to me at the time (not anymore). I wrote the exam and my papers were seized.

I wept!

But this time, I wasn’t bitter against God. I was wallowing in self pity. I felt less of myself. I felt grossly unfortunate. The whole year went and my result wasn’t released.

I enrolled a third time in another private school. I went for a week in mufti awaiting my uniforms. Was I humiliated? Yes. But I wasn’t bitter against God. I had learnt that I was his whether or whether not.

Did I learn that WASSCE wasn’t a definition of my worth? Yes I did; but that was the hardest lesson to learn. Infact, i think i knew it in my head but my heart hadnt quite accepted it at the time.

I was in that school for one week. The bright students drew near to me like pins on magnet. They could see I was bright. They kept wondering why I was in their school in SS 3. I didn’t tell anyone my story. How could I? I was still very much ashamed.

Read: 7 Things To Do When You Feel Spiritually Weak

My sister….

God did something for me a week after I enrolled.  I came home from school and saw a text that the result they seized for almost a year had been released. I ran to the Café and found out mine was released even though they seized my English still. I didn’t care afterall, I had a B2 in my first WASSCE. I was so grateful to God.

I made up my mind to enter the university that year. I took Jamb and the rest is history. How I got into the university was another battle (Story for another day).

That experience was pivotal to my self esteem. The lessons I learnt from that experience are what I’m about to share with you. I’ve called them THE SELF ESTEEM RULES because I’ve been through a lot in life but I apply these rules and they help in preserving a healthy esteem of my self.

Remember again, According to Jose’-vincent (1997), self esteem reveals how we view ourselves and the sense of our personal value. It affects the way we are, act and relate with everybody else. 
In my opinion, self esteem greatly determines how God relates with you. “…God resisteth the proud but giveth grace to the humble” James 4:6
You would think the proud have a high self esteem and the humble have a low self esteem right? Not exactly. There is just a thin line that creates the balance. That balance is what I’m about to show you.

STATES OF SELF ESTEEM
According to Martin Ross (2013), there are  three (3) states of self esteem

1.   Shattered
Individuals with such self esteem do not regard themselves as valuable or lovable. They may be overwhelmed by defeat, shame and could even see themselves as defeated and shamed.
Bonet (2015) points out the truth that they insult themselves, feel pity or sorry and become paralyzed by their sadness.

2.   Vulnerable:
Bonet (2015) says the individual has a general positive self esteem but is often scared of embarrassment, shame, defeat and being discredited.
People like this avoid making decisions because they fear blame. They act like they are independent of people when in reality they deeply desire people’s acceptance of them. They constantly fear rejection and failure.

3.   Strong: These individuals have a positive self esteem and sufficient strength for moments of shame, defeat, failure, embarrassment, such that their self esteem isn’t crushed. They can acknowledge their mistakes because the acknowledgement won’t ruin their self esteem. They are not afraid of losing social prestige or approval this in turn makes them have a general well being.
Years after my WASSCE experience, I realized that God had to lead me though that route because he knew my self esteem was vulnerable. I felt my achievements defined me. I felt I was less because a poor WASSCE result made me feel shamed and embarrassed.
He was determined to lead me from vulnerable to shattered to  vulnerable and eventually to Strong.
This brings us to
SOURCES OF SELF ESTEEM
1.    Contingent/Conditional
2.    Non-Contingent/Unconditional

1.   Contingent:  Contingent self esteem is derived from external sources such as what others say, one’s success or failure, one’s competence or romantic relationships (Johan 2002).
This source of self esteem is marked by instability, unreliability, vulnerability. It is based on receiving approval therefore it is faulty.
Victoria (2013) says, it predisposes one to incessant pursuit of self value.
Trust me, it is tiring and can lead to depression over time.

2.    Non-Contingent/Unconditional is said to be true, stable and solid. It comes from the belief that one is acceptable irrespective of occurrences. Paul (2006) explains it better by saying “acceptability is not based on a person’s virtue. It is an acceptance given in spite of our guilt, not because we have no guilt”.
I’ll simply say, Non-Contigent self esteem, is an approval/acceptance of oneself because you know God already accepted/approved of you while Contigent is a constant search for approval/acceptance from external/temporal sources

Read:  How To Turn a Bad Day Around

Long before I knew the psychological terms for sources of self esteem, the Lord consistently sang these words to me,
“I define you”
“You were worth so much that I had to pay with my blood therefore I am what you are worth”
I Corinthians 7:23 puts it this way, “you were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings or situations (NIV) emphasis added.
 A lot has happened to me but he kept telling me those things. Good or bad even my mistakes or perfection doesn’t define me. I learnt to DRAW MY WORTH FROM HIS WORD.
This bring us to the rules of self esteem

The RULES OF SELF ESTEEM
It’s a mentoring session and I can’t claim to be mentoring you if I don’t let you see into me. This makes me vulnerable right now but if its going to help you see that nothing but CHRIST defines you, then I’m happy to go naked before you.
I compounded these rules from the lessons God taught me. This is why after 5 failed relationships with one been two months to the supposed wedding (romantic area), 2 joined WASSCE results (Academic area), 2 warning letters at my place of work (career area), being single for over two years (romantic area), I still don’t feel less than I am worth or unqualified to do what I do as a minister. you can only do your best in life and be ready to accept both positive and negative outcomes. They just MUST NOT put a label on your back!!

Rule 1: People’s opinions are inferior to God’s opinion therefore I will hold God’s opinion more dearly.

Rule 2: I’m worth way so much to God therefore I’ll never accept situations, events, possessions, achievements or people as the true definition of my worth.

Rule 3: God loves me because He is love not because I act or do perfect things therefore I will love myself in perfect or imperfect moments.

Rule 4: I am valuable because wisdom (Christ) lives in me not because of my achievements; therefore I shall not let shame/failure crush me. I will simply try again.

These four rules of self esteem are the reason I still have a sane mind inspite of all life has thrown my way. They are my anchor through the high and lows. They have kept me stable and I can say with no shame, guilt or fear that I AM WORTH AS MUCH AS CHRIST!
How much are you worth?
Drawing your self esteem/worth from achievements, events, approvals or what have you is same as standing on #BrokenStilettos. Draw your self esteem/worth from God himself and you will be standing on #HeightsUntold

ASSIGNMENT
1.    Identify areas that evoke feelings of less/inferiority in you.
Say the The self esteem rules aloud until you believe it.

Feel Free to save this Photo below to help you stay reminded

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Reference:
Bonet Gallardo, L. Huertas Bailen, Amparo. Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona. 2015. http://ddd.uab.cat/record/142342?In=en (Accessed August 6 2016)
Jose’-Vicente Bonet. Se’amigo de ti mismo/;manual de autoestima 1997. Ed. Sal Terrae, Maliano (Cantabria Espana)

Koivula, Nathalie; Hassmén, Peter; Fallby, Johan (2002). "Self-esteem and perfectionism in elite athletes: effects on competitive anxiety and self-confidence". Personality and Individual Differences. 32 (5): 865–875. doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(01)00092-7
Ross Martin. El mapa de la Autoestima. 2103. Dunken.
 Terry D. Cooper, Paul Tillich and Psychology: Historic and Contemporary Explorations in Theology, Psychotherapy, and Ethics (Mercer University,2006). 5.
 Victoria Blom, "Striving for Self-esteem" (Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, 2011), 17. Online at http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:406035/FULLTEXT01.pdf.


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