Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘low self-esteem’

8 Signs You’re a Codependent

SOURCE:  Elements Behavioral Health

Many people who love an alcoholic or addict begin to lose themselves in the relationship. They frequently struggle to control or change the person they love and after a while they become reactive and may barely be able to remember their own goals and dreams. In many cases, loving an addict affects people to their core and overtakes their lives.

When this happens, the addict is no longer the only sick person in the relationship. The other person has developed a disorder called codependency.

How do you know if you have developed this disorder? One way to describe it is that codependency is an unhealthy way of relating in which you have made your relationship more important than your own well-being. You may not be addicted to drugs or alcohol yourself, but you are addicted to the addict. You revolve your life around drama and unpredictability. You forget how to focus on anything except the addict.

There are many other characteristics of people who are codependent. You may have all of these characteristics or only one or two.

  • Low self-esteem – Codependents often don’t feel very good about themselves, and they look outside themselves for someone to let them know they are OK. People may feel unlovable deep down even if they appear to be self-assured. 
  • Strong nurturing tendencies – If you like taking care of other people and tend to put their needs ahead of your own, you may have a problem with codependency. You may put a lot of energy into fixing other people, solving their problems or trying to do things for them that they should do for themselves.
  • Desire to be in control – What do codependents get out of remaining in dysfunctional relationships? In many cases, they have a strong desire to be in control. By taking care of an addict or another person who appears incapable of managing his or her own life, the codependent gets to run the show.
  • Desire to be pleasing others – If you’re a codependent, you may spend a lot of time desperately seeking approval from other people. You may bail the addict out of his problems or lie for him or try to solve all of his problems because you don’t know how else to get love.
  • Being reactive – Are you a bundle of emotions all the time? Do you spend a lot of time and energy imagining the worst possible outcome of things that happen? Do you find yourself reacting to what you think other people are thinking? If you are a codependent, you may fly off the handle because you think someone gave you a “dirty look,” or you may pick up on emotions that other people are feeling because you are so other-centered.
  • Failure to set healthy boundaries – You may have a hard time distinguishing where other people end and you begin. You may obsess about other people’s problems as if they were your own.
  • Dependence – If you are a codependent, the thought of not having someone to revolve your life around feels like the end of the world. You may have a strong fear of abandonment, or you may panic at the thought of rejection. You may remain in a painful or abusive relationship because you are terribly afraid of being alone.
  • Often experiencing negative emotions – You may be filled with a lot of negative emotions. You may be sad, angry, depressed, resentful, fearful, irritable or anxious. Life may seem to be full of one disappointment after another and you may feel hopeless. Or you may be so weary of feeling negative emotions that you have learned to numb out your feelings.

Codependents often deny that they have any kind of a disorder. They believe their problems are caused by others, so they continually obsess about fixing the other person. But if you’re a codependent, the only person you can fix is you.

If you recognize yourself in some of these behaviors, consider attending a meeting, try Codependents Anonymous or Al-Anon. You can also approach a therapist or minister to talk about your behavior patterns or struggles. Recognizing that you have a problem with codependency is the first step toward self-love and healing. 

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Abuse: Who Defines My Self-Image?

SOURCE:  Living Free/Janet M. Lerner, D.S.W

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

Perhaps you are a victim of spouse abuse. Or maybe you were in the past. Like other abuse victims, you have probably been challenged by the shame, guilt, and false sense of responsibility all victims take on as part of the “victimization” process.

You are probably also dealing with low self-esteem. Abuse attacks self-esteem in several ways. Grant Martin describes these areas in Transformed by Thorns.

They include the following:

  • Sense of being: Who are we in Christ Jesus? As we grow in our understanding of that and learn to cast our cares on Jesus, we can begin to walk in comfort. We develop a sense of well-being that reassures us of the love and healing God has for us.
  • Sense of purpose: Why are we in Christ Jesus? What purpose do we have? What does God plan to do with us? Why did he save us? God wants us to know we have purpose and meaning in our life. He is our meaning, and he gives us purpose.
  • Sense of ministry: We are here to serve God and be his body that ministers to one another. We are here to present the gospel to unbelievers so they can see and experience God’s love for them.

Meditate on these scriptures. Build your self-image on what God thinks about you—not what others think, your spouse thinks, or even what you think. Read the scriptures aloud. Write them. Put them on your phone or computer or post-its as constant reminders of who you are in Christ and how he cares for you.

You are his child. He cares for you. You are not alone.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. (1 John 3:1 NLT)

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7 NLT)

Jesus created you for a purpose. He has a good plan for your life, and he has equipped you to accomplish his purpose.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

Part of your purpose is to minister to others and allow them to minister to you. To share the gospel. He has made you unique and special.

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. (Romans 12:6 NLT)

Always remember, when you received Jesus as Lord and Savior, God clothed you in the righteousness of Christ. When he looks at you, he sees Jesus’ righteousness, not your sins. Not because of anything you have or haven’t done but because of what Jesus did.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. (Romans 3:22-25 NLT)

If you’ve never taken this step, you can do so right now. Jesus loves you so much he died for your sins. He wants to have a personal relationship with you, to care for you. Talk to him now. He is waiting for you with open arms.

Dear God, I sometimes feel alone, and I don’t like myself very much. I want to invite Jesus to come into my heart. Please forgive my sins. And then help me see myself as you do. I want to be your child. In Jesus’ name . . .

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These thoughts were drawn from …

 Restoring Families: Overcoming Abusive Relationships through Christ by Janet M. Lerner, D.S.W.

Becoming The Best Possible You

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

When I was a child, I never liked being me. I always thought that I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, popular enough, or skinny enough.

I was never invited to the birthday parties of the more popular girls in my school and always felt inferior. My parents divorced when I was eight, and I felt awkward making new friends.

You might say I grew up having a poor self-image and low self-esteem. I didn’t like myself, and sometimes I even tried to become someone else. I’d copy one of the more popular girls laugh, or dress, hoping that if I could look more like her, people would like me. I remember in 5th grade vigorously rubbing the top of my nose hoping to create a big Jewish bump so I could be like all the other pretty girls in my classroom. All I got was a red nose!

Even as adults, we still struggle with these same problems, don’t we? We feel inferior, like we don’t belong. We tell ourselves that we’re not as good or as together, or as spiritual, or organized, or loving, as other people we see. We compare and contrast our lives, our looks, our jobs, our families, and our bank accounts and ask ourselves “Do I measure up? Am I good enough?”

Comparing ourselves to others will never give us any lasting sense of self-esteem or confidence. Depending on whom we’re measuring ourselves against, we will always feel inferior or superior. When you play the comparison game and look up the ladder, you will always find those who are smarter, prettier, thinner, richer, more organized, and more disciplined than you are.

Therefore, I have learned that the goal in becoming the best possible me is to realize that God never asks me to change myself into a different person, but he does want to change me. He wants me to become the best possible version of myself. The person he created me to become.

The ultimate makeover isn’t done at the cosmetic counter, the gym, in a fancy department store, or by a plastic surgeon, but by God. But he always works best with our consent and our cooperation. You and I are always in the process of becoming.   We are either becoming a better version of ourselves or worse one. We are becoming healthier as people or not, more godly or more sinful, more Christ-like or more self-oriented. Which direction we’re heading is very much up to us.

I have a friend who loves antique furniture. She has an eye that can spot treasures amidst junk. Foraging through garage sales, auctions, and flea markets, she redeems pieces of furniture destined to be discarded by those of us less able to see its true value. But she doesn’t stop there. After she redeems the furniture, she sets about restoring its original beauty. First she starts with a thorough cleansing. She must remove any dirt, soot, debris and old paint that have accumulated through years of neglect. Then she painstakingly fills in the cracks, polishes the hardware, sands, waxes, and rubs and rubs until the warm, rich, patina of the wood is restored. She brings forth its’ true image, the original beauty and design that had been disguised by neglect, damage and false coverings.

Our original design as God’s image bearers has been tarnished by sin, both our own sin, and the sin of others against us. As human beings, even the best of our efforts fall short of God’s original plan. Yet, in the sovereign grace of God, he not only offers to forgive our sins, he desires to restore us so that we might participate in his divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Our destiny as human beings is to reflect God’s image in our human body (2 Corinthians 4:10-11). Yet, many of us settle for far less than God intends.

As God’s children, he tells us that we are his image bearers, and, as we mature, we are to look more and more like Him. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young Lutheran pastor, was imprisoned and eventually martyred in Germany under Adolf Hitler’s regime. In his classic book The Cost of Discipleship he writes, “Every man bears an image. Either man models himself on the god of his own invention, or the true living God molds the human form into His image. There must be a complete transformation, a ‘metamorphosis’ if man is to be restored to the image of God.”

The good news of the gospel of Christ is that God doesn’t just redeem us, he restores us. My question for you to ask yourself is this:  Are you becoming the best possible version of yourself or have you settled for an inferior version?

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