a christian perspective on the world today

Battling Self-consciousness

Q: I was always teased about my weight as I grew up. I felt different from my brothers because I was not interested in sport and preferred to read books. I didn’t seem to “fit” with the rest of my family. I have never felt that I belonged. Even now I am married, I am still selfconscious and unhappy about my looks. I’d like to be more outgoing and just be happier with myself.

A: The way we think about ourselves is most often rooted in our experiences.
To be teased about your looks when you are young can lead to a sense of low self-esteem and an unconscious stream of thought that continually makes you feel bad about yourself. The essence of low self-esteem is negative self-thoughts.
To live a happy and fulfilled life you will need to come to a more balanced view of yourself. Try to appreciate and accept your good and your “not-so-good” points.
It is important to realise no-one is perfect but that does not make us any less valuable in the sight of God. Recognising our humanness helps us to connect with others. To have respect for ourselves is very important. We can only achieve self-respect if we broaden our view of ourselves—seeing not only the negative but also that which is good.
Where do your feelings of selfconsciousness come from? How have your experiences in life contributed to your feelings of low self-worth? Jot down memories in a little notebook as they come to you. But do not stop there! Decide if you want to keep those out-ofdate thinking patterns. Have they made you happy? Have they built you up? If not, make a decision to get rid of them.
Question negative thought patterns.
What is the underlying belief that you have unconsciously adopted? Is it, for example, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m worthless” or “I’m stupid”? These beliefs need to be changed if you want to have a greater sense of self-worth. Look at the evidence for and against these beliefs.
Write them down and look at them objectively. Are they true? Do you want to keep letting them influence your life? It will take time but it is possible to learn to be more positive in your selfthoughts.
Share these thoughts with a friend and you will be surprised at how much others value you.
Here is the crux of the matter—what do you choose to see when you look in the mirror? Do you see a human being with unique abilities and talents or do you see only your faults and weak points? Make a conscious effort to change your thinking about yourself, focus on those around you, and you will find that your self-consciousness will fade.

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