Thursday, August 26, 2010

Your Thoughts, PLEASE...

I'm trying to prepare a lesson and came upon the following thoughts on self-esteem...

• In the 20th Century having self-esteem has become a right and given preeminence. We are told that we must feel or believe that we are valuable, not that what we do must be of value. You can feel your inadequacies deep inside, but in today’s world don’t acknowledge them.

• “When we believe we must feel worthy in and of ourselves to think well of ourselves, we look skeptically at the need for growth: it threatens our self-satisfaction. We must not look up to others, because we can’t consider ourselves any less. We must not give ourselves constructively critical evaluation, because we must believe we deserve life’s rewards just as we are” (pg 16)

• If we look at the Christian paradox, we must lose ourselves to find ourselves, there really is no room for self-esteem. Is there?


April said...

Wow. Uh, we need an hour to talk about this. I think that second statement is crap. How do you live a life without role models to know how to want to be? Copying people's behaviors or characteristics is a way of growing. And to simply accept yourself as you are is ridiculous. I understand not criticising yourself inwardly all of the time, but come on. Introspection and analyzing your qualities as a human being is not only natural but necessary to become a better human being. And if this time is the time in which we prepare to meet God, why would we just sit around thinking we're completely fine just the way we are? We're not. No one is perfect. We are divine, yes. We have beautiful qualities, yes. But, we must grow or we become stagnant and useless. And how can a useless person have good self esteem or be happy with who they are? It's absurd. I feel like I'm in a phiolosophy class.

Rachel said...

Wow, so many thoughts and so little time. And I'm like April and feel like I'm in philosophy class, but I really do think this question for me has translated into changing how I view the world and how I actually attempt to live in a practical way. I say that EVERYONE EVERYONE, should read the book, "The Paradox of Intention", by Marvin Bradshaw.

Here's the summation of it from Amazon:

"This book examines the paradox of intention, the simple idea that we may reach a goal by giving up the attempt to reach it or, conversely, that we may be prevented from reaching a goal by our intentional efforts to achieve it. The nature of this paradox is explored through an examination of texts from ancient and existential philosophy, psychotherapy, and the sacred texts of Buddhism, Christianity, and Taoism. Shaw then subjects the paradox to systematic study by pursuing a series of questions arising from it." I really think this book helped me understand my own religion in a way I have been searching for for a lifetime. Get it, H. and April and everyone. You won't regret it! OK, i'm done being a commercial.

Anyway, just a couple other random thoughts:

I wish I had the citations for this, but you can find them, I'm sure. When Jesus was teaching during his ministry - the pharisees and all that, he said, "These are the greatest commandments I give unto you, love God and love your neighbor as yourself."

Later after he'd been resurrected and was teaching just the apostles he said, "This is the greatest commanment I give unto you, Love God and love your neighbor as I have loved you."

I was pointed out this difference by a super great, wise teacher that I respect. He felt that the second wording was different with purpose and was the higher law. He thinks that in #1 we read, "I'm supposed to love myself and others." When really JEsus was saying, "Look, see how you love yourselves already - try to do at least the same for others." And in the new commandment He's laying the higher law - "Forget yourself. Love others like I do. Don't worry about trying to love yourself - if you love others then that will work itself out and you won't be preoccupied with either self-doubt or self-grandeur - you'll just be BUSY LOVING OTHERS like I am." Does that make sense? I don't know, I just know that in my own life it has seemed to be true. The more time I spend thinking about myself, the less time I spend thinking about others. And I'm not as happy or helpful when I'm wrapped up in trying to have self-esteem. It's kind of like all that happiness posts Scott has been writing about - it's just true - when I'm lost in a work that I love - I'm the most effective and the most self-forgetful. I love that scripture about losing ourselves to find ourselves. Davey quotes his favorite teacher, "When you come upon a paradox you know that truth is near." Anyway, I wish I could talk to you too - we leave tomorrow morning at 8am for UT and I'm so behind.

Davey said...

The problem I have with self esteem is that I can't figure out if I have any without focusing on myself.

I too think that Jesus had a pretty good handle on this, his solution was to stop thinking about yourself. And in fact he submitted that you may as well lose your own life because you won't really need it and thinking about it all the time will probably distract you from thinking about others.

That is a genius comment from Rachel, I am often perplexed when people use that scripture to defend the notion that you have to "help yourself before you can help others". It's always been clear to me that Jesus was indicting us for "loving ourselves" in that scripture and that it was meant to be a stake in the heart. See how concerned you are with yourselves, maybe you could find time to offer others the same courtesy.

I especially think this in light of how sarcastic Jesus was in general. Did you ever notice how he always answered a question with a question? Do you know how annoying that is in real life? Jesus was a master at hyperbole and sarcasm. Of course he didn't mean you should love yourself, Jesus was pretty clear, you have to kill yourself before you can help others because we only have capacity to help ourselves or help other people. And only one of those things leads to happiness.

P.S. both those quotes appear to need some context can you link to the lesson for us? Generally I agree with them especially the first and the second too I guess. If by "look up to others" they mean envy others than yes definitely.

H said...

First off, this is a first Sunday lesson for RS (the YW join each month and we teach 3 times a year), so the quote was not from any lesson manual. It was from a book, "Confronting the Myth of Self-Esteem" by Ester Rasband. Great read, gave me that "A-ha" therapy in a book kind of feeling. Actually made me feel good about my lack of self-esteem. (Hah! That was for you, Davey.)
A-your comments were exactly what the author was saying, but out of context it's not making much sense. That's what I needed to know. Well done.
Rachel-The 2 great commandments, of course! I've wondered about the wording before and what you said makes perfect sense. Thanks for that!
Davey-love the first line there. Absolutely! I agree, the quote needs some context. I was kind of testing to see if that was the case and obviously it doesn't stand on it's own.