When talking about self, it is not meant in a proud or selfish way. Admittedly, we do need to take care of ourselves, but we do not live in isolation and self is a two-way street. We take care of ourselves by focussing inwardly AND outwardly. In addition, we take care of ourselves by taking care of the people and environment around us. This may be about self, but it is self within the world.
We can’t change people, but we can influence others by how we lead our lives. This is one of the reasons that we need to be self-aware, and that is the purpose for looking at “Self”. If we are in a good space, we are better equipped to help others. For it is in giving that WE receive.
So we ask ourselves, “How can I be a better me for the benefit of the world?”
Self is not
- All about us.
- To glorify ourselves
- To puff ourselves up
- Thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to
- Permission to go after the lusts of our own hearts and eyes
- How hard done by we are
- How to get a mansion and new Ferrari
Self-centredness, as well as vanity and arrogance, are a sure way to cause discord amongst those around us. These characteristics are detestable to God. Self-centredness is most often the result of poor self-esteem, caused by past hurts and incorrect belief patterns. These need to be addressed to bring healing. Self-centredness is the defense mechanism many people use to protect themselves but unfortunately, it leads to further isolation, more hurt and deeper problems.
Self-centredness contrasts with obedience to God’s word and all that He tells us to be. He tells us to show gentleness, kindness, patience etc which are all things that are done to others, not ourselves. Seeing the gratitude in other people when we demonstrate these qualities, is rewarding to the giver. Although it is towards others, we benefit too.
Self-centredness is the opposite of true love. If we think too highly of ourselves we cannot possibly truly love other people and that is one of God’s most important command for us.
Effects of self-centeredness
Being too focused on our own needs: leads to blind ambition, negatively affects our relationships and compounds feelings of insecurity. So while we need to take care of our own well being, it should not be excessive and misguided.
What is a healthy self-esteem?
Conversely, a healthy self-esteem comes from God and knowing our worth in Him. It is based on God’s love for us and knowing that we are created in His image. This healthy self-esteem is not dependant on material wealth, status or qualification. A person with a healthy self-esteem does not need to prove anything.
Luke 22:26 says “The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules, like the one who serves”. Serving is an act of selflessness that not everybody is capable of.
Some of the characteristics of a person who has a good self-esteem are self-control, discipline, confidence and humility. A person with a healthy self-esteem does not have the need to argue, belittle and bully. They are a pleasure to be around. We should all aim to be that person.
Knowing and understanding ourselves
Once you have alleviated all the wrong belief patterns, you need to replace them with positive belief patterns. This is where knowing our strengths, weaknesses, values and beliefs is important. We need to understand why we think the way we do, behave the way we do in certain situations and want the things we want.
There is nothing wrong with aiming high and wanting a successful career, doing what you love. It is another thing entirely if you are killing yourself daily to earn money and feel better about yourself or follow a career to earn other people’s approval.
This is not to say you can’t or won’t be successful, just be mindful that what you are doing is for the right motive or you may well end up burnt out.
Knowing our values is crucial to finding our niche in whatever we do.
As a single mom, I struggled to enjoy a corporate job that often took me away from home. Family and home are two of my strongest values, and a career caused a lot of stress. This is just one way that not living out our values can impact our lives. Sometimes it can’t be helped. At other times, knowing your values can help you make important lifestyle decisions.
Do something because you love it. When you are in a successful career because you are doing what you love and using your natural gifts and talents on a daily basis, you will receive the greatest reward. You can add so much value in so many ways with your talents. This is what it means to impact our surroundings by being the best we can be. The feeling of fulfillment will surpass any reward or remuneration. Our gifts are given to us to lift others up so use them accordingly.
If career is high on your value list, by all means, follow it, as long as it is not jeopardizing other areas of your life and causing strife and unhappiness to those around you. Do not let it become an idol. It may well cause your downfall.
Work is such a large factor in our lives. If we are doing the wrong thing we may fail with devastating consequences to ourselves and to those around us. Often a person will stay in an unhappy job because they are scared of moving elsewhere. Find out what is holding you back and aim to overcome it.
If you are desperately unhappy in your current situation and longing for change, but can’t seem to take that step, what is holding you back? Most often it is fear, fuelled by past experiences and self-limiting beliefs. This is so contrary to what God tells us. The Bible says that through Him we can do all things.
Examine your beliefs and discover what it is that’s holding you back from making a change in your situation.
Dare to Dream
Meditate on your dream life. What would it look like? Think about what inspires you. What changes would you like to make? What are your gifts, talents, abilities? Create a dream board and fill it with your hearts desires.
The Bible gives us plenty of guidance on how to live fulfilling meaningful lives within the parameters of God’s commandments. If our dreams are harmful to others then we need to reassess them. Remember, like the sign below, God’s laws are for protection.
Strengths and weaknesses
Knowing our strengths and weaknesses will also help us live better lives for ourselves and those around us. Learn to maximize your strengths where you can and minimize your weaknesses. It is ok to say you can’t do something. It can be hard to say no and then we put undue pressure on ourselves.
In 1 Peter we read about each of us being a living stone within the church, with Jesus as the cornerstone. We are all meant to function as a unite, depending and supporting one another to form a united, functioning body. If we crumble, the structure around us becomes unstable.
Lending a helping hand
We all need to do something to make a difference. Find a cause that is close to your heart. You may want to get involved in the protection of wildlife, abandoned babies, homeless or drug rehabilitation. Find the one thing that touches your heart.
Doing something worthwhile is very fulfilling. It takes our minds off our own problems and gives us an avenue to release our gifts and talents. Again, it must be something that fits in with our desires and doesn’t add stress to our lives. Don’t end up burnt out trying to get affirmation of your self-worth through works; do it not only because of a genuine concern, call or desire. If you do something because you feel it is your duty, then it will be counterproductive.
You can make a difference in the world around you with the smallest favors.
Make time for creative talents
Hobbies and creative interests are a great way to bring peace, joy, and fulfillment into our lives. We fill our wells and may bring pleasure to others in the process. In fact, it is crucial to take time out for yourself, in order to recharge your batteries. For more about enjoying leisure time, you can read this blog post here.
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