Self Esteem
Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: How does a person deal with low self-esteem and raise his confidence in a true sense? (i.e., without creating false senses of security)
Mesora: Self-esteem can be lost based on a lack of approval from others. It can also be generated out of an internal judgment of oneself based on his own criteria. That is, you might lose a job and feel depressed that you aren't yet successful. You might want to date someone, but get rejected. There are many areas in life where we will not achieve our goals, and this is throughout life. So how are we to keep our self-esteem throughout?
We are always to first look to the Torah as a guide, even in this area.
Regarding financial success, God is the One who determines each man's fate for each year as we recite in the New Year prayer, and in the Talmud Beitza, at the very top of the page on 16a. Another Mishna states that after the destruction of the Temple, "men of faith" vanished. Rashi in Sota I believe states that "men of faith" are those who never worried about their income. They lived truthfully, awaiting God's continual sustenance - never worrying about their income. A friend told me of his learning, where he had read that the raven teaches man true faith in God: The mother raven by nature abandons the young at birth, leaving her young solely dependent on God's kindness. How then is this species still around? Don't the young die, as they cannot yet fly to catch food? The answer is that God designed nature in such a way that bugs fly into the mouth of the raven fledglings. Perhaps due to where the mother instinctually nests, it is a location of insects. Whatever the reason, we should be assured of the truth of God's promise to "satisfy every living creature", as we say in Ashrei three times everyday. A Rabbi taught, the manna in the desert for 40 years was also to teach man to depend on God, and have perfect faith in His word. Charity is also a display of faith in God's promise to add to our wealth when we are charitable. There are many teachings of the Torah pointing to this essential concept.
So man's level of sustenance should not be a source of low esteem.
What about man's self image as derived from other's approval? Again, if one follows the Torah system, this is all the approval he should need, and if he surrounds himself with friends who are Torah observant, he will in fact be praised by such friends.
If one is rejected by a possible date, provided you are living a Torah lifestyle, you should be assured that there is no reason to feel bad. There are many personality types, and for each one, there is a match. If you are rejected, it can simply mean that your personalities are not a match. This is not a judgment of you as a person. It certainly feels bad not to court someone you desire, but eventually we all find someone compatible. We should focus on a larger time frame to weaken the focus on the present let down.
If we reflect and see we are not inline with the Torah system, and are therefore not accepted by another, let it be a blessing that we came upon such recognition, and let us change our ways. It may even be a gift from God, as King Solomon states, "He reproves whom he loves".
As a rule, our self image should be derived not from what others judge as what is good, bad, right or wrong, but what God judges as such.
He is the Only One who we should be concerned with impressing, and on Him should we rely with complete confidence. To Him we should pray with all our heart felt concerns as the Rabbis teach.
Such confidence in His promises to us must be where we derive our security, and thereby never feeling low esteem. As we conclude the Uva L'Tzion prayer each morning, "and there will trust in Him those who know His name, because He will not abandon those who seek Him".

Philosophy | Tnach | New Postings | JewishTimes | Audio Archives | Suggested Reading | Live Classes | Search | Letters | Q&A's | Community Action | Volunteer | Links | Education | Chat | Banners | Classifieds | Advertise | Donate | Donors | About Us | Press | Contacts | Home


Mesora website designed by
© 2003 Mesora of New York, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Articles may be reprinted without permission.