Developing a Healthy Self-Concept, Part I
"Love your neighbor as yourself."1
Jim was standing in line at the supermarket checkout when, to his amazement, in charged an angry, aggressive man, with his browbeaten wife in tow, pushing in line ahead of Jim and several other customers. With a forty pound (twenty-kilogram) sack of flour slung over his shoulder and handing his wife some money, he growled: "Here, you pay for the stuff." He then proceeded to stomp off with his bag of flour.
Unknown to him, there was a hole in the back of the flour bag. As he stormed out of the supermarket, he left behind a trail of white flour all the way to his car. As Jim walked out of the store, the angry man had just discovered his now half-empty sack of flour. Poetic justice one might suggest!
What makes people like this man so obnoxious? Among other possibilities, he undoubtedly has a very poor self-image. The bottom line is that these people don't feel loved. That's why his wife was such a wimp, too. People who strongly dislike themselves tend to either become weak, passive and over-compliant and withdraw, or project their self-hatred onto the people around them by being aggressive and bullying. Because they don't like themselves, they believe others don't like them either and set themselves up to be rejected.
At the root of many of life's conflicts, personal problems, and failures is a low sense of self-worth. If, for example, I believe and feel I am a failure, I will set myself up to fail. And if I believe I am a bad person, I will act accordingly.
On the other hand, if I believe myself to be a person of worth and am lovable, I will act in a worthwhile and lovable manner. If I believe I am a successful person, not in an egotistic way but in a healthy sense, I will succeed in life. This doesn't mean that I won't make mistakes and experience failures from time to time. But when I do, I may be disappointed, but I won't be devastated and will ask myself, "What can I learn from this experience?" I will then get up and try, try, try again—until I do succeed!
The self-concept is basically comprised of one's (1) self-image—how I picture or see myself, (2) self-esteem—how I feel about myself; and (3) self-worth—how much I value myself, all of which add up to one's level of self-acceptance, which is how much or how well I accept myself;
A person with a healthy self-concept is not conceited, arrogant or proud. The latter is one who is covering up a poor self-concept. Healthy people know what their strengths and abilities are and develop and use these to achieve worthwhile goals. They also acknowledge their weaknesses without putting themselves down because of them, and work to overcome and master these.
By the way, while the Bible says to love our neighbor as our self, a humorist remarked, "Heaven help your neighbor if you hate yourself." There's a lot of truth in that statement.
To be continued...
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, your Word says to love my neighbor as myself. Please help me to love and accept myself in a healthy way so I can also truly love and accept my neighbor in a healthy way. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Matthew 22:39 (NIV).