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The Importance of Self-Esteem
Self-esteem is an important factor in the dynamics of preaching because of its fundamental significance in the lives of people. The importance of self-esteem to the well-being of persons can hardly be over emphasized.
Nathaniel Branden has pointed out that there is no value judgment more basic to persons – no factor more decisive in their psychological development and motivation – than the estimate they place on themselves. This estimate is ordinarily experienced by individual, not in the form of a conscious, verbalized judgment, but in a feeling that is difficult to isolate and identify because persons experience it constantly; it is a part of all other feelings and is involved in every emotional response. The nature of this self-evaluation has a profound effect upon a person’s thinking processes, emotions, desires, values, and goals. To understand persons psychologically, one must understand the nature and degree of their self-esteem and the standards by which they judge themselves.
The realization of the way persons value themselves provides a window upon the way they are likely to view others, and God. Self-esteem levels influence such matters as the friends persons choose, the degree to which they are productive, the use they make of their abilities and aptitudes, their attitude toward the universe and toward God, and their overall happiness in the midst of life’s circumstances and contingencies.
Low self-esteemers tend to be self-haters; they are convinced of their inferiority and feel unlovable. Such persons place unreasonable demands upon themselves, and when they fail, are strongly critical and self-punishing. Aiming for unrealistic goals only serves to magnify their weaknesses.
Low self-esteemers perceive others as competent, talented, and able, but they do not see such qualities in themselves. They lack confidence in the abilities they do have. As a result, they tend to be unproductive, and they lack cognitive skills, leadership ability, and creativity. Being preoccupied with inner problems, such persons expect to fail in whatever they attempt and thereby adopt a “why try” attitude. Indeed, much of their energy is channeled into inventing highly creative ways to fail.
Low self-esteemers are fearful of social situations and lack confidence in their interpersonal communicative abilities. Indeed, such persons tend to be shy, withdrawn, indifferent, undependable, aloof , and distrustful of others. They often project their self-hatred upon others in prejudicial ways. Such persons often want the affection of others but are unable to open their lives to others in caring, affirming, trusting ways.