Seeing yourself as a highly prized treasure today as you venture into 2023 can help you rise admirably and confidently above those who surrender themselves to the lowest bidder and end up on the dirt path of indecency. Jackie Robinson remarked, “The most luxurious possession, the richest treasure anybody has, is his personal dignity.”
Esteeming yourself will afford you a focused and fulfilling life that refuses to surrender to the pathetic arms of self-pity, self-hate, self-devaluation, or any such paralyzing personal social prison. Sometimes not placing a significant premium on yourself may have nothing initially to do with anything you might have done as you grew up, but more so to you by significant others.
For example, if as a child your parents habitually called you negative names like an idiot or stupid, over time, you may think that way about yourself. Such undesirable thoughts may restrict you from seeing life through a positive window. Suppose important people were in the habit of reinforcing expressions that made you feel unique and significant; in that case, the chances of relating to yourself and others might be very positive.
Own your Life
Educator Bob Moawad once said: “The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”
Make a conscious decision not to lie down on the bed of self-pity because of your experiences, but take the good counsel from Harry Emerson Fosdick, who remarked: “Self-pity gets you nowhere. One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world - making the most of one’s best.”
When you are treating yourself nicely, it always reflects the value or worth you place on yourself. How you speak, dress, treat your body, what you put into your mind, the choice of friends or acquaintances with whom you associate, and the places you frequent, often mirror the merit you may have assigned to yourself. Never cheapen yourself. Abraham Lincoln said: “It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him.”
Speak confidently to yourself
Make it a practice of speaking optimistically to yourself. Think about and speak assertively to yourself regularly about your talents and acquired skills with which God has blessed you. It may surprise you to see your life developing more and more secure and avoiding a quest for endorsement from others to make you feel accepted. Norman Vincent Peale emphasized that “It is of practical value to learn to like yourself. Since you must spend so much time with yourself, you might as well get some satisfaction out of the relationship.”
Turn obstacles into opportunities
Work toward making your life happy. Take what may have been negative features in your past, and what may have warped your concepts about yourself, and transform them into gems for your future well-being. The words of Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross are gems to cherish. “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
I read of a young man whose parents and siblings did not initially think highly of him. He, however, affirmed from early he was “fearfully and wonderfully made.” His positive outlook paid off. He became one of the most influential and highly respected political leaders the world has ever known. King David was his name.
Never undervalue yourself. I can imagine what our nation would be like if a high percentage of citizens prize themselves significantly and encourage others to do the same throughout this year?
Could it be that as a society, we have not been paying enough attention to developing wholesome homes? Am I not correct in saying that overwhelming research states that children’s security and positive esteem levels are dependent on what is mirrored by parents, especially during their formative years? Is it not also true that the genuine love, care, compassion, and tenderness a father and mother exhibit toward each other act as benchmarks for children as they grow up to foster their own relationships?
Listen to a sample of sad words of several individuals from whom I received permission to share and come to your own conclusions.
"My mother and father deserted me when I was six years old and left me with other relatives who walked in and out of my life. At a tender age, I struggled to care for my younger sibling. I grew up with much hatred."
"My father was a sperm donor. I have had no relationship with him, and I do not have any interest in having any either. He means nothing to me."
"As a very young girl, my mother would send me every week to find my father to beg him for money. I would often end up in the rum shop with several men around me. Sometimes I was forced to wait around for a long time and still returned home with no money."
"My mother would beat me with any object, including a hammer. She said some awful things that I could not get out of my mind. I am over 50 years old, and I would go down by my mother and still hope that she would somehow hug me and say I love you."
"At three years old, I remembered my mother saying to me: If I knew then what I know now, you would never be in this world. I am now married and have my children, but I cannot get those words out of my head."
"My father would regularly take my lunch money and throw it on the ground rather than hand it to me. I had to pick it up from off the floor. I felt like nothing. I developed much hatred for him and men on a whole."
"My mother hated me. Because I resembled my father, with whom she developed a bad relationship, she would take out her anger on me. I remembered her holding my hands behind my back and allowing my younger brother, who had a different father, to beat me up. I hated that woman."
These experiences are not isolated incidents of a few, but are repeated several times in homes across our nation. Too many of our children's mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual systems are often infected as they advance into adulthood. Some of these children grow up having great difficulty in reaching their full potential. Over the last decade, and especially within the previous five years, Family Heartbeat International Network Inc., a counseling agency of which I am a part, has been seeing an increase in both parent and children issues that are far from complimentary. Many of these parents with deep-seated emotional problems transfer childhood hurts to their children, who suffer at the bitter end of parental frustrations.
God's counsel to parents is still to "Train up (discipline, shape) a child in the way he should go [in keeping with his individual gift and bent], and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). But can parents train children if they themselves need training?
Let us continue this parent-child conversation next time.