This last week, I had a conversation with a couple women who were struggling badly with depression and self-esteem. They each brought up similar points I think are relevant to all of us. Let me give you a story to illustrate.
It was during the middle of a session and I had asked this person what they wanted in life. "Nothing!" said the woman, "I'm tired of people, I hate people, and I don't care to be around them anymore." I asked her another question. "Are you sure it's the people you hate?" She answered very convincingly, "Yes!" She then explained, "Growing up and even today, people are always telling me my hair is so beautiful and soft...and I hate it when they do that." "Ya they are a bunch of idiots aren't they," I said. "If they really knew who you were, they would know how worthless you really are...right?" "Yes!" she yelled. I then asked the question again, "Are you sure it's the people you hate?" She paused and thought about the question for a long time. She then said, "No...I'm not sure, I guess it's me I hate, and I don't want them to see me for what I really am. I get angry and ticked off at them because I can't believe someone would see something good in me." I nodded slowly. She then cried. There was silence in the air, but the secret was broken. She was at a crossroads, where one road led to agreeing with herself that she was worthless, and the other road (much scarier) led to her acknowledging that her beliefs about herself were false and she had all the power to stop believing she was worthless. I waited for her to speak, but she couldn't. Her world had flipped upside down. For 45 years she had allowed herself to believe she was worthless and felt completely justified in blaming others for her self-hatred. I then stated, "It sounds like you could do well to get to know yourself...again...the real you.
As I thought about this statement of getting to know yourself, I actually became very confused. It had come out during session, as it seemed to fit the progress of our discussion. However, after asking the question, I became a little confused. I couldn't think of what it took to get to know ourselves. What do you (ya'll) think? How do you get to know yourself?
It made sense to me why she hated compliments. They burned her to the core. Compliments created a large canyon of where she thought she was and where others thought she was. This canyon created utter despair, as it does for many of us. People tell us we are good parents, good in our church duties, good at work, and good with others. While all along we have internal shame or knowledge that we think we are coming up short. We then shrug off, or deny the compliments others give us, because it creates a gap.
I feel I have experienced the answer of how do you get to know yourself. It is founded in the scripture found in Matthew 10: 39 where it states, "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (King James Version). We often become stuck in "low self-esteem" because we forget to look at others with a perspective towards their "high self-esteem." We pursue ourselves like a drowning swimmer; frantically whaling and grasping for anything to keep us afloat...even our loved ones. The answer truly is, we find ourselves in others. We see ourselves in others. We only see others when we serve them...and really serve them. No sooner as you forget you, and see another, you will see you in the other.