• Sarah Lyall-Neal PsyD

You are Worthy: A Deep Dive Into Self-Esteem

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

When I start thinking about self-esteem, my mind automatically goes back to my teenage years. I remember being a young girl and not feeling like I fit in. I had friends. I wasn’t isolated by any means, but I felt like something just wasn’t clicking. I always felt like I was walking a couple steps behind my friends’ group when it came to what was trendy or popular in clothing, music, etc. At the time, I thought it was because I just didn’t get it. From my adult vantage point, I can look back and see that it wasn’t that I didn’t get, it was that I didn’t care. When I care about something, I throw myself into a 100% and go get it (this self-knowledge came with later reflection as well).

I share this little anecdote about my teenage years as a way of showing you that we often judge ourselves based on things that don’t really matter all that much. When we start judging ourselves on little things, those little things add up, and eventually our self-esteem starts to suffer. We start to feel inferior because we can’t live up to the person, we believe we should be.

Is your self-esteem suffering? Do you feel inferior to your peers? Is it based on money? Looks? Status? Take a moment to remind yourself that you are worth more than many sparrows (Bible readers will get this reference right away. If you just tilted your head like a confused puppy, read on :))

Matthew 6:26 says, “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?”

In this verse Jesus is speaking to his followers (us) about their (our) value and how important they (we) are to their (our) heavenly father. He isn’t telling them to compare themselves to others or to try to be something they are not. He is simply telling them that they shouldn't be anxious about the things of this world.

Improving Self-Esteem in 3 Easy Steps

1. Identify the source of your negative beliefs: In the case of teenage me, I felt bad about my inability to keep up with the latest trends because I had people in my friends’ group who constantly pointed out where I was lacking and tried to set me up to be embarrassed (were they really friends? Questionable). I believed that if I could stay ahead of the trends, know the music, buy the clothes, style my hair and makeup just so, then I would be accepted. But I couldn’t do it, it wasn’t in my nature. I had no interest in those things and when I tried to do them, I would quickly become bored and move on. I had to grow and mature and realize that individuality was a thing...a very good thing actually.

2. Learn to accept compliments: This might seem easy at first, but think about the last time you received a compliment. How did you respond? Did you deny it? Or, did you simply say thank you? Many of us feel uncomfortable when we receive compliments because it makes us feel prideful or boastful. When we downplay the compliment, it takes the pressure off because we have assured the other person that we don’t see ourselves as being better than them. While this feels good in the moment, it contributes to our internal thought process that is telling us we are lacking. Starting today, if someone compliments you simply say thank you. This will let the person complimenting you know you appreciate the compliment. The more you practice receiving compliments as they were meant to be received, the better your self-esteem will be over time. As a bonus, you might find yourself complimenting others more because you want them to feel how good it feels to receive a meaningful, heartfelt, compliment.

3. Change the Story: Once you have identified your negative beliefs and learned to accept compliments. It is time to change your story. We all have a story that defines our life. At one time, for example, my story would have been that I wasn’t cool because I wasn’t trendy. During that period of my life, I believed that I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t like my friends. During my current season of life my story is a bit different. I have absolutely no desire to be cool. I wear what I like and listen to what I like. Further, I attract people into my circle who are just like me. For instance, my husband listens to a broad range of music, including new bands and the classic rock I love. He is not a top 40 follower by any means.

The Catch

These three easy steps work great, but you may have to repeat them from time to time. Over the course of our lives our self-esteem rises and falls for a number of different reasons. For example, pop culture and style don't matter much to me anymore, but I worry about my weight a little more than I should. I have recently had to revisit the steps regarding the self-esteem hit I took with gaining weight. I had to understand where the negative thoughts were coming from, work to accept myself, and then change my story. My current story is, I can't change what I did to my body in the past, but I can eat healthier and exercise going forward.


How is your self-esteem? Do you like yourself as a person? Do you feel you are good looking, smart, and competent? Do you feel like you are worthy? Most of us can answer yes in some areas and no in others. Where are you saying no? For the area/areas in which you say no, utilize the three steps to aid yourself in getting back on track.

Remember, no matter where you are in life, no matter how many times you have been let down and made to feel unworthy, you are a child of the greatest king and you are loved.

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