Why You Might Have Low Self-Esteem and How to Cure That

“Believing the lie that you are less than you are must be seen and resisted.”

Too often when I work with people in Forgiveness Therapy, I see a familiar pattern.  First, the person has been treated badly by others.  If this has been severe or has occurred over a long period of time, then theInternational Forgiveness Institute, Inc. person begins slowly to incorporate the other’s views into the self.  Eventually, this can become so entrenched inside of people that this lie about who they are becomes part of their identityOnce it is part of their identity, then it is hard to change.  In fact, people can become resistant to change because, after all, this is their identity.  It is who they think they are.  They would rather have a broken identity than to set out on a course of change that is unknown and scary.  Staying with brokenness is easier sometimes than confronting the anxiety of transformation.

And yet, that change is possible and welcomed when the new view of self is more wholesome, more true.  It is worth the initial anxiety to be free of the broken identity which could last for the rest of a person’s life.

Here is how to get started in transforming your self-esteem after you have been treated badly by others:

1)  Stand with courage in the truth: “I was wronged.”  If none of this is your fault, say that to yourself: “This is not my doing.  I did not bring this on myself.”

2)  Stand further in the truth: “Even though this person may have a bad view of me, I refuse to share that view of myself with this person.”  Resist the lie.

3)  As you stand in the truth, be aware of your strength in doing so: “I am enduring what I did not deserve.  I am stronger than I thought.”

4)  Commit to doing no harm to the one who harmed you.  As you do that, reflect on who you are: “I am someone who can endure pain and not return pain to the other.”

5)  Finally, conclude in the truth: “I will not be defined by the injustices against me.  I am more than this. I am someone who endures pain and is a conduit for good to others.”

Who are you now?

Posted in Psychology Today May 09, 2017


 

Question: I am wondering about the following situation. A person has tried to commit suicide because he or she was so despondent from another’s actions. The one who attempted suicide did nothing wrong. Will forgiveness (by the one who attempted) take a while to heal these deep wounds?

The deeper the emotional wound, then the longer the forgiveness process seems to be.  In a case like this, yes, it could take many months for the one who forgives to experience emotional relief and to conclude that he or she has forgiven.  Please keep in mind that the one who forgives does not have to become a perfect forgiver to experience emotional relief.

You talk about forgiving and seeking justice at the same time. I am of Asian origin and it is considered completely disrespectful to ask for justice from one’s own parent. It is even difficult to consider forgiving a parent because then you are saying that he or she is immoral, something I have been taught in my culture not to ever do. Now what?

I think we have to make an important distinction between condemning the parent and acknowledging the truth that all people are imperfect.  Imperfection does not equate with condemnation.  If you are able to see your parent as imperfect, then it follows that he or she will sometimes make mistakes or even do wrong.  You can then forgive while you keep in mind that this is not condemnation or disrespect.  In fact, it is an attempt to see your parent as possessing inherent worth despite the imperfection.  To me, this is a sign of respect for the parent as a worthwhile person.

With that said, we now have to deal with the issue of ever asking a parent for a change in behavior.  I think it depends on how you do this.  Following the ideas in the first paragraph, you need not approach a parent in an accusatory way, but instead in a constructive way.  For example, suppose your parent is continually harsh with you.  Do you think you could say something like this: “Yes, I will try to do better.  My intentions are good and so I hope that you see that in me.”  In other words, you are pointing out something in you—in you—for the parent to see.  You are not confronting or correcting then.