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January 04, 2024

Low Self-Esteem? 3 Keys to Recalibrating Your Thought Life

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.
Proverbs 27:19


No one likes to feel stupid. Or small. Or less than. But we’ve all had days when we just want to crawl under our desk—or under the covers—and hide. Maybe you can relate.

Have you ever bumped into a cute guy at the coffee house—like the one you’ve been eyeing for weeks—on your worst hair day? Have you ever lost a big game because you dropped the ball? Have you ever been self-conscious about how you look—and others have made fun of you? Or could it be that, sadly, you’ve been enduring decades of harsh and unkind words from a family member or a bully in your life?


Whether it’s a small thing or a big deal, we’ve all had times when our self-esteem has plummeted faster than the gigantic waterfalls at Niagara (which, I’ve learned, fall at about 202,000 cubic feet per second).

When your self-esteem nosedives, you lose the sense of God's original design of who you truly are. Somehow, you forget all the amazing things that God, the Creator intended you to be. Like a slab of wood in the rain, your self-esteem gets warped when you feel like you are not pretty enough, smart enough, strong enough, wealthy enough—or simply not enough at all.

Or, when you fail to achieve a goal or you think (for whatever reason) that you don’t measure up to the expectations of others—or your own expectations—you can tend to feel inferior.

I hear you.

I’ve had seasons in life when I’ve wondered what planet my self-esteem wandered off to because it seemed so far away. I’ve endured harsh and unwarranted criticism from others. I’ve known times of unexpected unemployment and I’ve known the sting of rejection in dating relationships. And so much more.

Thankfully, I’ve learned some vital lessons in recovering my faltering self-esteem. I've discovered that I have choices; I can either stay stuck in my disappointment or I can choose to believe that how I view myself really can change for the better.

Let me give you some good news: 

When you begin to see yourself as God sees you,
and learn the truth about who you really are,
then you will begin to live a life that is
more confident, fruitful and joyful.

How do you do that? It begins by knowing and believing God’s truth, and what He has to say about you. In doing so, you realign your thoughts about your true worth and value. The truth about who you really are comes from the source of truth and love Himself: God Almighty.

Maybe it’s time to come back, or discover for the first time, who you are in the eyes of our loving and compassionate God—your true identity. Here are a few things to think about as you recalibrate your thought life:

1. What are you saying to yourself? Self-talk matters. Is the running monologue in your head mostly negative or positive? Remember, there’s “what happened” and “how you deal with what happened.” You may have had a horrible childhood. Others may have treated you poorly. Or, you may have made unwise choices. But how you respond to hard things in life makes all the difference. You can find victory as you renew your mind (Romans 12:2) and get rid of negative, false and damaging thoughts.

2. Is it true? Don’t mistakenly believe that other people or popular culture hold the measuring rod for your value as a person. Challenge what you hear and hold it up to the light of Scripture. Grab your Bible and discover all of the life-affirming things God has to say about you, His child.

The truth is: You have value because God made you. You were God’s idea!

The truth is: The One who loves you most created you to fulfill His good purposes.

The truth is: God loves you more than you could ever comprehend.

No matter where you come from or what you’ve done—or what has been done to you—Christ offers startling grace and complete forgiveness to all. That kind of love is mind-blowing, and it’s available to you.

We live in a culture that values the outside of a person when God values the inner qualities that are a true treasure of infinite and eternal value. First Samuel 16:7 says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” 

3.    How can things be different? As you start to notice what you’re saying to yourself, and look to God’s truth, not the distorted messages you’ve heard in the past (e.g., “You don’t deserve to be happy” or “You’ll never amount to anything” and the like), your thought life will begin to be transformed in positive ways. And when your thoughts change, your actions change. And life gets better. 

It is true. And worth repeating: When you begin to see yourself as God sees you, and learn the truth about who you really are, then you will begin to live a life that is more confident, fruitful and joyful.