Self-Esteem – A Trap for Love

Using examples from Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, the Magisterium, the lives of the Saints and the theology of Saint Thomas, the author shows how the psychological theories of self-esteem are incompatible with Christianity.
by Lucrecia Rego de Planas | Source: Catholic.net

“Why are you reading that? Self-esteem isn’t Christian!” I said, picking up the book that my friend had just put on the table.

It was a hardback copy, the jacket with a white background and giant blue letters shouting, “Turn your child into a winner” and in smaller letters, “Ten tips to raise your children’s self-esteem,” written by a Dr. Scott, psychoanalyst and therapist at a church university.

There was a very noticeable startled reaction as everyone present turned to stare at me in shock over my announcement, which to me did not sound strange in the least. Seeing this response and feeling the looks that pierced me like hot knives, I lifted my shoulders a bit, smiled shyly and looking briefly at each one, and slowly repeated:
“Well…really…self-esteem is NOT Christan!”

We were in a parents’ meeting - mothers and fathers of families, some of them psychologists, all practicing Catholics. And by practicing, I don’t mean just “Sunday Mass” Catholics. These were true practicing Catholics – they went to daily Mass and to confession twice a month, attended annual spiritual retreats, and had ongoing spiritual direction and training. We’re talking about a very select group of people.

Some days later I found out why there had been such a strong reaction to my statement. It turned out that several of the mothers present that day had been taking their children to psychologists, also present, because of having been diagnosed in school (Catholic school, of course) with “low self-esteem”; and so, naturally, money flew out of the mothers’ wallets into the psychologists’ pockets to pay for therapy focused on “elevating their kids’ self-esteem”.

Even worse…I then found out that one of the psychologists present that day made a living by conducting self-esteem workshops for teachers, pupils, and parents. Let's just say that...I had unknowingly touched on some nerves, and extremely sensitive ones at that.

They were my friends…and I say “were” because I don’t know if they will continue to be, after that night. But since at the time I didn't know the history of these therapies and workshops, I went on to calmly explain why I had said what I said.

It was a shorter speech than what I’m about to give here, but when all is said and done, it was more or less the same.

And I wanted to put it in writing, just in case there are others who think that self-esteem - so talked-about these days - is compatible with Christianity.



TABLE OF CONTENTS



1. Where do we get the term “self-esteem”? What is its origen?
2. The concept of self-esteem is contrary to the teachings of Christ.
3. The Gospel teaches us the opposite of self-esteem
4. Self-esteem in the Old Testament
5. The self-esteem of the Saints
6. Self-esteem in the Magisterium of the Church
7. Self-esteem in Aquinian thought and in the doctrine of the Final Judgment
8. Self-esteem – an old heresy reborn?
9. Flattery, praise, and self-esteem
10. Different meanings for the term “self-esteem”
11. Social results of promoting self-esteem
12. If your child tells you he can't do anything, that he feels worthless, shouldn’t you try to raise his self-esteem?
13. Conclusion: Authentic fulfillment has nothing to do with self-esteem


1. Where do we get the term “self-esteem”? What is its origen?

The term “self-esteem” was invented by Sigmund Freud, and the idea was further spread by Carl Jung and Carl Rogers. The concept has absolutely nothing good to offer, with proven evidence of the very real damage caused to the Church and the entire world with its theories.

According to Freud, religion is an infantile neurosis that impedes man from growing and coming to maturity. He says that it was something invented by man to assuage his distress and fill his need for protection.

In Freud’s opinion, God the Father is the ghost of a man-child that dares not confront his reality and who seeks refuge for his feeling of guilt. Self-esteem is the liberation from this God-ghost, and upon correct self-development, permits growth of the person as an autonomous adult, without God or religion.

“I am”, “I have”, “I can”, “I don’t need anybody”, “I deserve everything”- to foster self-esteem is to foster pride, arrogance, greed, covetousness, lust…because it places “I” in the spotlight, and everything is for the self-complacency of “Self”.

But this is neither the time nor place to talk about Freud’s errors, because many have already done so – among others, Professor Antonio Orozco Desclós and Dr. Aquilino Polaino in several of their books.

Rudolf Allers (1883-1963) presents a masterly explanation in his book “What’s Wrong With Freud?”

Suffice it to say, for the purpose of this article, that the origin of the term “self-esteem” is not Christian and neither is its original meaning, as conceived by Freud and promoted in our society in all the current books, magazines, programs, workshops, clinics, courses, and self-esteem therapies.


2. The concept of self-esteem is contrary to the teachings of Christ.

Self-esteem, as conceived by Freud and as presented today in popular workshops and books, says to “love yourself”; Jesus Christ, on the contrary, says, “deny yourself”:

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”, because “he who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of Me."

Jesus does not say LOVE yourself, He says DENY yourself. Do we need more proof than this?

In some self-esteem clinics, in order to attract Catholics clients, I have seen the sayings of Jesus Christ used, arguing that He tells us that you have to love yourself in order to love others, and to prove this they cite the phrase: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “…your neighbor as yourself.”

But, if we look at this more closely, the commandment is to love God and our neighbor. The “as yourself" is just the method of doing it. And certainly, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, is not the same as, "Love yourself so that you can love your neighbor."  That is merely a marketing trick.

If we continue reading the Gospel, we see where Jesus completes the sentence by saying, “On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

The Hebrew law is summed up in those two commandments, but it is a law that is still incomplete and imperfect.

Jesus tells us later:  “I have not come to abolish the law, but to perfect it” and He did perfect it, giving us a new commandment, the Commandment of Love:  " A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Jesus substituted the “as yourself” for something much higher and perfect:  “as I have loved you.”

And how did Jesus love us? Giving Himself up, forgetting completely about Himself, renouncing everything for love of us…and being obedient to death, even to death on a cross.

Those who defend only the “love others as ourselves” without taking into account the new commandment haven’t caught up with Jesus (they are a bit behind the times), and they stay with the Old Law, the talion law, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth", or with the minimal law of, "Don't do unto others what you don't want them to do unto you."

They cut themselves short, very short, because the love that Jesus Christ preached, with His Word and with His life, goes far beyond loving others “as ourselves.” The new and present commandment is to love each other as Jesus loved us.



3. The Gospel teaches us the opposite of self-esteem.

Just a few phrases and scenes taken from the Gospel serve as ample proof:

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
“Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.”
“The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”
“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
“I have not come to be served, but to serve.”

Jesus condemns the attitude of the Pharisee: “Oh God, I thank thee that I am not like other men…” and instead, praises that of the publican because he does not feel worthy: “Be merciful to me, a sinner.” He reproves the one who has “high self-esteem” and praises the one with “low self-esteem.”

He praises the attitude of the centurion who declares himself unworthy, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof…”

He grants a favor to the Moabite woman who accepts being compared with a dog:  “"Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

He forgives the sins of the woman who throws herself at his feet, her “self-esteem” as low as it could get, and instead, reproves the attitude of Simon the Pharisee, who because of his “high self-esteem” forgets to offer Jesus water to wash His feet.

There are other examples of Christian attitude, taken from the Sermon on the Mount, that turn out to be unthinkable for anyone with "an elevated self-concept", which is what self-esteem courses and workshops offer.

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”
“…from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.”
“To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.”
“…if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
“Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.”
“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
“But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”
“And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men.”

And the Beatitudes tell us:

“Blessed are the poor…the hungry…they that mourn…the meek…the merciful…

“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…”

Where is self-esteem? Nowhere in the Gospel do we find that Jesus says: “If you want to be happy, love yourself.” Rather, we find the opposite:
“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself…”

The “self-esteem” theory tells us that the high opinion we have of ourselves and the confidence we have in ourselves and in our abilities is what will make us “fulfilled” as persons.

Christ tells us exactly the opposite: that to be truly happy we must deny ourselves, put God and others first, and ourselves last. He assures us that if we deny ourselves and put things in that order, we are then fulfilled as persons. “Self-esteem” on the other hand, puts us in the center of our own attention (egocentrism) so that we always serve ourselves first (egotism).

When poor Peter, with all good intentions, tried to boost the Lord’s self-esteem, attempting to dissuade Him from the Passion by telling Him something like, “No, Lord, that will not happen, you are too good of a person, you shouldn’t have to suffer so…” Jesus immediately rejected that line of thinking: “Get thee behind me, Satan.”

And in the temptations in the desert, the Devil clearly tried to tempt Jesus by appealing to his “self-esteem.” “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread”… “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down”… “All these [kingdoms of the world] I will give you,..."
What was Jesus’ reply? “Begone, Satan!”

Having arrived at this point, perhaps someone with high self-esteem is thinking of renouncing his Christian faith and that he would be better off as a good Jew, like those who lived before the teachings of Jesus.  But the Old Testament does not speak favorably of self-esteem either.


4. Self-esteem in the Old Testament

The Sacred Scripture never tells us that it is necessary to think highly of ourselves, or to have confidence in ourselves, or to be self-confident. To the contrary: throughout the entire History of Salvation, God tells us in the Holy Scriptures the harmful effects of self-esteem, as the world today understands it and as it is promoted in workshops and books.

Already in Genesis we find that with Adam and Eve, when the serpent tried to “raise their self-esteem” by telling them, “You shall be like gods…”, they committed original sin, they lost Paradise, they lost the presence of God, they lost their preternatural gifts…and they saw themselves “naked”, that is, with nothing.

When Cain experienced "wounded self-esteem" because his sacrifice had not been acceptable to God, he murdered his brother Abel, and was forever marked, condemned to live as a wanderer of the earth.

The builders of the Tower of Babel, who perceived themselves powerful because they knew how to make bricks, had high self-esteem until God “confounded their language” and they left their work half finished.

We can imagine Noah’s “low self-esteem" when he had to obey God by building an enormous boat at the top of a mountain, far from the sea…and being mocked and made fun of for doing so. And then…to top it off, forty days and forty nights of sleeping among animals, cleaning up after them…anyone would have low self-esteem after that. So we see that God didn’t give high importance to the self-esteem of his chosen ones.

We can also imagine David’s “self-esteem”, when he arrived on the scene armed with a lowly slingshot, trusting only in God, to fight against Goliath who was armed to the teeth and had very high “self-esteem”, and who laughed and made fun of him.

We see Samson, to whom God had given supernatural strength and whose long hair was the sign that he was consecrated to God. He was capable of great feats, until the day that Delilah arrived to give him a “self-esteem workshop.” She lulled him to sleep caressing him, stroking his strong muscles and his thick, long hair (stroking his self-esteem) and, once asleep, she cut his hair, stripping him of his trust in God…and Samson lost all his strength. They made him a prisoner, took out his eyes, and made him work like a donkey...until his "self-esteem" was destroyed, and then he regained his trust in God and was able to free his people from the oppressors.

We find other biblical examples of "elevated self-esteem":  The Antioch king, in the book of Maccabees, and King Nebuchadnezzar both ordered great statues of themselves built, so that men could worship them - a high self-esteem of gold and silver, but with feet of clay. The Word of God does not speak well of them.

Giddeon triumphed in the fight despite not wanting to make an appearance and feeling unworthy of the mission:  "Pray, Lord, how can I deliver Israel?  Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manas'seh, and I am the least in my family.” (Judges 6:15).  God made his “self-esteem” even lower by reducing his army to a mere 300 men, so that it would be well noted that the triumph was from God. Giddeon had nothing to boast about, because it was very obvious that the Lord had given the victory.

Solomon, being a wise king, when his “self-esteem” rose at seeing himself loved and admired by the most beautiful and rich women in the world, lost all of his wisdom, and gave himself up to pagan gods, and brought about the division of the Kingdom of Israel.

Jeremiah warns us about the danger of having confidence in ourselves:  “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the LORD… Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.” (Jer 17, 5-8).

The entire history of the people of Israel is a history of triumphs and failures, of happiness and sadness. They triumph when they trust in God and fail when they trust in themselves. Things go well for them when they trust only in God, but experience complete disaster when they doubt the power of God and want to solve problems on their own strength.


5. The self-esteem of the Saints

I can’t think of a single saint that would have been holy by “loving himself or herself”. Completely the opposite: all the examples of the great saints speak to us of their having forgotten themselves in order to give to others for love of God.

Saint Paul

The great Saul of Tarsus, before his encounter with Christ, had a greatly elevated self-esteem: he was among the most important of Pharisees, a disciple of Gamaliel, of the linage of Israel of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew and son of Hebrews, a Pharisee according to the Law, and as such, irreproachable according to the justice of the Law.

He gloried “in his works of the law” and thought that by his “justice” (high self-esteem), he had every right to "God's blessing" (prosperity, security, productivity, material and spiritual wealth...). But when he meets Christ, the good Saul recognizes that all of these things are a complete loss, like so much trash, in comparison to knowing Christ.

St. Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, upon meeting Christ “lost his self-esteem” and said of himself, “And I am the foremost of sinners,” (1 Tim. 1:15), “a wretched man,” (Rom 7:24) and “the very least of all the saints” (Eph 3:8).

To the Philippians he says:  “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves.” (Eph. 2:3).

A little later he writes:  “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10), and, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21). “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil 3:8)  “But by the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Cor 15:10).

St. Paul tells us about “self-esteem” when he preaches about the last times: “For men will be lovers of self…rather than lovers of God.” (2 Tim. 3:2-4).

He writes to the Corinthians:  “And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do.” (2 Cor. 11:12).

“Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord. For it is not the man who commends himself that is accepted, but the man whom the Lord commends.” (2 Cor. 10:17-18)

Saint Augustine

St. Augustine, while a heretic and sinner, had “high self-esteem.” In his Confessions, he even tells how he saw good and knew what he had to do, but couldn't do it because he himself had woven the chains that were keeping him bound.

He liked himself, admired himself, and was proud of the image that others had of him; this was what kept him down and what impeded his conversion. It was when he finally realized his miserable state, when at last his “self-esteem” fell, that he threw himself down under the fig tree and began to weep inconsolably. From that moment on he was a great saint.

He wrote: ”You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”  He understood that this rest is not found in self-confidence, but in God. Among many other things, he wrote this beautiful prayer:

Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know You, and desire nothing save only You. Let me hate myself and love You. Let me do everything for the sake of You.
Let me humble myself and exalt You. Let me think of nothing except You. Let me die to myself and live in You. Let me accept whatever happens as from You.
Let me banish self and follow You, and ever desire to follow You. Let me fly from myself and take refuge in You, that I may deserve to be defended by You. 
Let me fear for myself. Let me fear You, and let me be among those who are chosen by You. Let me distrust myself and put my trust in You. Let me be willing to obey for the sake of You. Let me cling to nothing save only to You, And let me be poor because of You.  Look upon me, that I may love You. Call me that I may see You, and forever enjoy You.  Amen.

Saint Alfonso María de Ligorio writes that, “By ourselves we are not capable of doing anything good.  Whatever good we may do comes from God, and any good thing that we may have belongs to God.”

Neither did Mother Theresa of Calcutta display any worry over high or low self-esteem. When asked about her health, she would say, “I don’t know, I hadn’t thought about it, I have too many things to do for others than to be thinking about my own health."

She never spoke of the importance of loving herself, but she did talk about love for others:

Lord, when I am hungry, give me someone to feed;
When I am thirsty, send me someone who needs a drink;
When I am cold, send me someone to warm;
When I am sad, send me someone to cheer;
When my cross seems heavy, let me share another’s;
When I feel poor, send me a needy person;
When I have no time, give me someone in need of my minutes.
When I am humiliated, give me the opportunity to praise someone; when I am discouraged, give me someone to encourage.
When I need understanding, send me someone who needs mine;
When I need to be looked after, send me someone to care for;
When I think only of myself, draw my thoughts to another.
Make us worthy, Lord, to serve those people throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger.
Give them through our hands, not only this day, their daily bread, but also by our merciful love, give them your image. (Mother Teresa of Calcutta M.C.)

Thomas à Kempis

“MY CHILD, you can never be perfectly free unless you completely renounce self, for all who seek their own interest and who love themselves are bound in fetters. They are unsettled by covetousness and curiosity, always searching for ease and not for the things of Christ, often devising and framing that which will not last, for anything that is not of God will fail completely.”
“I would this were the case with you -- that you had progressed to the point where you no longer loved self but simply awaited My bidding!” Then you would please Me very much, and your whole life would pass in peace and joy. (...) Put aside earthly wisdom, all human self-complacency. (Chapter XXXII of The Imitation of Christ).


6. Self-esteem in the Magisterium of the Church

Just as I found no saints with a high opinion of themselves, neither have I found in the milenia of teachings of the Church anything that talks of self-esteem or of the necessity of loving ourselves in order to be able to love others. To the contrary, I found that it has always taught that everything that we have received is from God, and that we can do nothing and are nothing without God.

The Church Fathers define sin as, “the love of oneself to the point of despising God”, and holiness as, “the love of God to the point of despising onself.”

The Second Vatican Council, in the Gaudium et Spes, speaks of the fostering of self-esteem as one of the forms of modern atheism, saying, “For while God is expressly denied by some, […] [others] laud man so extravagantly that their faith in God lapses into a kind of anemia […]”.  (G.S. no. 19).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of the dignity of the human person, but it does not say this means that we should love or take pride in ourselves:
Para. 1700 - The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God […] By [their] deliberate actions […]and with the help of grace they [human persons] grow in virtue [and] avoid sin […]  In this way they attain to the perfection of charity.
The Catechism also tells us of the necessity of educating our children, but it does not mention self-esteem workshops – rather, quite the opposite, it talks of forming their conscience in order to preserve them from selfishness and pride.

Paragraph 1784 - The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. […] Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.

John Paul II in his 2005 Message of Peace, quotes St. Augustine to remind us that the Kingdom of this world is built upon the love we have for ourselves, while the Kingdom of Heaven is built on rejecting self-love for love of God.  Here are his words:

“He who loves his life shall lose it.” These words do not express contempt for life, rather to the contrary, they demonstrate an authentic love of life. This is love that does not desire this fundamental good immediately and for itself, but rather for all and forever, in open contrast to the mentality of "the world."
In reality, life is found when one follows Christ along the "narrow path." Whoever follows the “broad” and comfortable path confuses life with ephemeral satisfaction, with disdain for one’s own dignity and that of others."  (John Paul II, Message for Lent, 4-03-2001)

Benedict XVI in his encyclical dedicated to love, Deus Caritas Est, dedicates not one word to self-love. If, as some preach, it is so necessary to love oneself first in order to love others, isn’t it strange that the Pope, in 42 points dedicated to talking about love, does not reserve even one for self-esteem?

Benedict XVI speaks of God's love for us and of how we have to show love toward our fellow man (the entire encyclical deals with this), but it never tells us that we should love ourselves first. “For this reason, I wish in my first Encyclical to speak of the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others.”

The love that we receive from God should come to us and flow from here to others, like a cascade of living water. We should not keep it and admire it as if it were ours. The Pope defines love as leaving the self that is directed inward, and moving toward the giving of self.

“Love is indeed ‘ecstasy’, not in the sense of a moment of intoxication, but rather as a journey, an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God.” (Deus Caritas Est, n. 9)

A short time ago he reminded us of it in one of his homilies:

“This is the true way to rise; this is the true door. It is not the desire to become "someone" for oneself, but rather to exist for others, for Christ, and thus through him and with him to be there for the people he seeks, whom he wants to lead on the path of life.

Life is not only given at the moment of death and not only in the manner of martyrdom. We must give it day by day. Day after day it is necessary to learn that I do not possess my life for myself. Day by day I must learn to abandon myself; to keep myself available for whatever he, the Lord, needs of me at a given moment, even if other things seem more appealing and more important to me. It means giving life, not taking it. It is in this very way that we experience freedom: freedom from ourselves, the vastness of being. In this very way, by being useful, in being a person whom the world needs, our life becomes important and beautiful. Only those who give up their own life find it.” (Benedict XVI. Homily of May 7, 2006)

The Church as Mother and Teacher knows man’s weakness and that it is impossible for him to continually give without receiving anything in exchange. For this reason, she teaches us over and over again that the source of our love toward others is the love that God has for us and not the love that we have for ourselves. I can love others without expecting anything from them, because I know that I am loved by God.

Benedict XVI tells us:

“On the other hand, man cannot live by oblative, descending love alone. He cannot always give, he must also receive. Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift. It is true, as the Lord tells us, that man can become a sring from which rivers of living water flow (cf. Jn 7:37-38). Yet to become such a spring, one must constantly drink anew from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God (cf. Jn 19:34).” (Deus Caritas Est, n. 7) So to love others, our Pope tells us that that we must not drink of self-love (as is taught in self-esteem workshops, “Love yourself so that you can love others”), rather from the original source, which is the love that God has for us.

Before writing this, I spent several days carefully searching for any Church-authorized Magisterium document in which self-esteem was discussed. According to my research, I can affirm that in all of the Magisterium of the Church there exists no Encyclical, Letter, Exhortation or Apostolic Constitution, Motu Propio or Papal Bull, in 2000 years of Magisterium history, in which the Pope speaks of or even mentions the term self-esteem.

However, there are hundreds of documents that speak of the denial and the forgetting of onself, which can be easily found in any part of the Magisterium and even in popular religious rites.

One example is seen in some of the phrases Cardinal Ratzinger used in the Via Crucis of 2005:

“Jesus himself offers the interpretation of the Stations of the Cross, He shows us how we should pray it and follow it:  it is the path to losing oneself, that in, the path to true love. He has gone before us on this path.
[...]
You invite us to follow You when You say: “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25). Yet we cling to our lives. We don’t want to relinquish it, we want to keep it for ourselves. We want to possess it, not offer it. You come forward and show us that only by giving it up can we save our lives.
[...]
Free us from the fear of the cross, from fearing the ridicule of others, from the fear that our life will escape if we don't take advantage of everything it has to offer. Help us to unmask the temptations that promise life, but which in the end result only in leaving us empty and frustrated. Instead of desiring empowerment in life, may we surrender ourselves. As we accompany you on this journey of the grain of wheat, help us to find in the “losing of life” the way of love, the way that truly gives us life, and abundant life. (John 10:10).” (Joseph Ratzinger, Via Crucis, Coliseum, 2005.)


7. Self-esteem in Aquinian thought and in the doctrine of the Final Judgment

Saint Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica, clearly states that self-esteem, as it is understood today, is completely incompatible with holiness, and that the only way self-love can ever be an orderly love is when it seeks not sensational well-being (in an elevated concept of self) but only the spiritual good of the person (holiness).

According to St. Thomas, charity is friendship, which he defines as participating in the welfare of another. For this reason, he tells us, one can love oneself because of the desire for one’s own salvation; he explains that proper love of oneself consists of desiring good for onself (that is, wanting to be holy and striving to be holy). He helps us see that the way to accomplish this orderly self-love is only by loving God and our neighbor (that is, denying ourselves in order to give of ourselves to others). This has nothing to do with self-esteem.

St. Thomas’ explanation perfectly frames the phrase “love your neighbor as yourself” of the old Law, that Jesus did not come to abolish but to perfect:  If loving myself means to desire my salvation, then “loving my neighbor as myself” means to desire the salvation of others. And this is not to “increase my self-esteem” or that of others, rather it is giving myself to others and helping them to forget themselves so that they can do the same.

St. Thomas offers these thoughts on this subject:

“The love of self which is the principle of sin is that which is proper to the wicked, and reaches 'to the contempt of God’, as stated in the passage quoted, because the wicked so desire external goods as to despise spiritual goods.” (Summa Theologica, Secunda secundae, Question 25, article 7)

“Those who love themselves are to be blamed, in so far as they love themselves as regards their sensitive nature, which they humor. This is not to love oneself truly according to one's rational nature, so as to desire for oneself the good things which pertain to the perfection of reason: 
and in this way chiefly it is through charity that a man loves himself.”

 (Summa Theologica Secunda secundae, Question 25, article 4)

“And yet the mode of this love had to be prescribed to man, namely, that he should love himself and his own body in an ordinate manner, and this is done by his loving God and his neighbor.” (Summa Theologica, Secunda secundae, Question 44)

In this same chapter, St. Thomas tells us that the wicked believe in loving themselves, but they don’t actually do so because in their (selfish) self-love they are losing salvation. He also says that the righteous, although they neither know nor try to do so, in fact do love themselves because by their surrender and denial of self they are gaining salvation.

To delve even deeper into the richness of Aquinian thought regarding proper love of oneself - which is understood as the desire to have spiritual wealth (the complete union with God), and corroborates that this proper love does not have anything to do with the self-esteem that modern psychologists want to sell us, but completely to the contrary - it would be well worth the effort to read Question 25 of the second part of the Summa Theologica in its entirely.

We can see that the teachings of St. Thomas regarding proper love of oneself are perfectly summed up in this phrase from the Gospel:  "For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

This Aquinian thought is also perfectly explained in Jesus' narration about what will happen in the Final Judgment. Here our Lord tells us that we will be evaluated on love, not on love of ourselves, but love of others.

“Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me…”

At no time does Jesus say that those who have high self-esteem will be saved, but that those who know how to love others will.

So it is that if we want our children to love themselves in the proper manner described by St. Thomas, rather than buy books entitled, "Raise your child's self-esteem", we should give them very different ones, such as "The Imitation of Christ" by Kempis, as just one example.


8. Self-esteem – an old heresy reborn?

Self-esteem workshops teach children to “love themselves,” “accept themselves,” "trust in themselves,” “feel proud of themselves," of who they are, of what they have and of what they can do.”

As we have just seen, Christianity teaches us to see that all that we have and are comes to us from God, that we have nothing to be proud of and that there is nothing we can do without God's help. “Without me, ye can do nothing.”

Pelagius, a 5th century heretic, taught (among other nonsense) the exact same thing presented today in self-esteem workshops. He asserted that man is born good (denying the effect of original sin) and that he can save himself by his own efforts without any need of help from God (thereby denying the necessity of grace).

Pelagianism was soon disproved and forgotten, and was rejected in the Synod of Carthage in the year A.D. 418, as well as at the Council of Ephesis in the year 431, and in the Synod of Orange in 529; yet, heretics never die, they just transform themselves.

In my personal opinion, what today is called “self-esteem”, “self-fulfillment”, “self-sufficiency”, “self-confidence”, “self-security”, etc., is nothing more than a mutation of Pelagianism - an ancient heresy resurrected in the 20th century.

In one of his books, Fr. Mercelino de Andrés says:  Christ’s agony continues in those poor Christians that are deceived by false doctors, seduced by their “pseudo-redemptive” theories, yanking their faith out of their souls by the roots, separating them from the true way of the Cross, from the love of God for man, valuing pride disguised as “self-esteem” and the worship of (MY)SELF, instead of worship of God the Creator, Father of Jesus Christ and our Father.


9. Flattery, praise, and self-esteem

While it is true that a child needs to know that he is loved in order to develop correctly, it is not necessary to be told this all day long for him to know it, as is recommended in the self-esteem workshops.

I think that the example of selfless parental love for him must be the best way in which the child realizes that his parents love him, without the need to tell him so. If a child is able to see daily demonstration of selfless and unconditional love between the parents, to their children, and to others, he will know that he is loved by them and learn to love in the same way that his parents do.

Clearly, not all compliments are necessarily bad or harmful. There are words that can work miracles and are well-executed compliments, that is, directed not at the child’s talents, etc.,—“You’re so handsome”, “You so intelligent”, “You’re so clever” (one cannot pride oneself in this because it has been given to him by God) -  but rather, directed toward proper use of the talents received, in the service of others:

To the intelligent child who is explaining a task to a younger sibling, one might say, "It is good that you are using well the intelligence that God gave you." To one who is skillful with his hands and fixes something that was broken, one might compliment him, not on the ability, but on “how well you are using your manual ability.” In this way, from earliest childhood, we can make them aware of the great responsibility that they have with each one of the gifts that they have been given.

Jesus complimented people in this way:

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.” He complimented the servant not for his qualities, but rather because he had made good use of what he had received.

To the widow in the temple, he praises her not for being a widow or poor, but for what she had done with the little she had.  "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury."

Yet, one must also take care that even these properly-used compliments for talents do not generate “self-esteem” in the child; the fact that we know how to utilize and take advantage of what we have been given for the good of others, is simply normal and natural, it is what we must do.

“So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, `We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'” (Luke 17:10)

With this sentence it becomes very clear that we should not feel proud of ourselves (high self-esteem) even when we have done good works with the talents God has given us.

Regarding this, C.S. Lewis says in his book Mere Christianity:

“The child who is given pats on the back for doing his lessons well, the woman whose lover praises her beauty, the saved soul to whom Christ says, “Well done,” can and should take pleasure in this. Because the pleasure lies not in what you are, but in the fact that you have pleased someone whom you want (in the proper manner) to please. The problem starts when you change from thinking, “I have pleased him/her; everything is well” to “What a great person I am for having done that!”

Fr. Michel Esparza, author of the book entitled Christian Self-Esteem, in the following passage warns us against psychotherapeutic treatments meant to elevate self-esteem:

“He who knows that he is a son of God can easily forget himself and increase the quality of his love for others. However, one who does not know this dignity sees himself impeded from reaping the success that increases his self-esteem and that makes him deserving of the esteem of others. But this method never achieves a good relationship with oneself and with others, because the “me” is poisoned by self-love and is never satisfied. Faced with his own miseries, the person who does not know the love of God will have two options: either recognize them and become depressed, or deceive himself, eventually with the help of psychotherapy (there are those who go to a psychotherapist just to be convinced that they are fabulous persons). But doing so never produces enduring peace, because the deceived intelligence always protests."

Self-esteem therapies definitely do not get along well with Christianity.


10. Different meanings for the term “self-esteem”

What surprised me most in that discussion with my friends was how they kept changing the meaning of the word self-esteem as the conversation advanced.

At the beginning, all were in agreement that man had to love himself in order to be able to love others. That is, they accepted that “self-esteem” was the same as “love toward onself.”

As the conversation continued, suddenly they decided that no, they were talking about “feeling proud of who they were.”

When they saw that this didn’t work for Christians either, they said that they meant “being proud of what they do.”

Then after talking about the unworthy servants, they changed to “confidence in oneself”, “personal security” and ended up saying that they really meant “appreciation for the dignity of the human being.”

I believe that language should be utilized correctly, and that it is important to call bread “bread” and wine “wine.” It is incorrect to use the term “self-esteem” to define “the value of one’s dignity as a human being,” because the term is “self-esteem” (esteem of SELF) and not “human being-esteem” or “person-esteem.” The meaning of the word “self” always has and always will be “Myself”, “my Ego” (using Freudian terms) and carries the implicit meaning of putting Self at center stage, throwing God far away from the person’s life.

Fr. Michel Esparza himself admits in an interview that he decided to use the term “self-esteem” in the title of his book because it sounds nice, because it’s fashionable, because that way it will be read by the man on the street…in other words, for marketing reasons. Following are his words, as recorded in the text of this interview:

“I chose the term “self-esteem” for its unquestionably positive resonance.  This is a universal theme, but in my book I especially try to help people with a certain tendency toward oppressive perfectionism. There is another reason for using the term self-esteem – being in common use, it allows divulging the Christian message in person to the man on the street. Furthermore, the idea of self-esteem is currently popular and speaking of it in Christian terms permits the correction of certain erroneous focuses.”

Self-esteem, as such, cannot be anything Christian, because the place that self-love necessarily occupies in our hearts is the same place from which we remove love for God and man.

Here is the opinion of a wise and holy person of our own time:

“You command me to love my neighbor
as I would love myself,
if I wanted to love mself.

Because I don’t want to love myself, Lord,
because I am so ephemeral,
that I don't deserve to be loved even by myself.

The murderer killed
to give to his self-love
the pleasure of vengeance.

And the thief stole
to give to his self-love
the pleasure of wealth.

And the lecherous man rolls around in the mud
to give his self-love
the pleasure of his laciviousness.

Self-love is not true love,
because it is love at the cost of all loves.

Because he who loves himself, does not love.

Because loving oneself is an exclusion,
and loving one’s neighbor is a donation.

Because loving oneself is prideful,
and loving one’s neighbor is humility.

Because loving oneself is selfishness,
and loving one’s neighbor is charity.

(Fr. Marcial Maciel. Psalter of My Days)


11. Social results of promoting self-esteem

Promotion of self-esteem is a subject that has caused great confusion and great destruction in complete families and congregations, promoting selfishness before love.

No study exists that can show any positive results of self-esteem under any circumstances. Nevertheless, data from statistical studies do exist that show that there have been no positive results.

But besides the formal statistical data, other results from self-esteem workshops that I have personally seen around me are:

- Children who are spoiled, arrogant, disobedient, conceited, who feel entitled to everything, are demanding, rude, dissatisfied, and selfish.

- Insecure parents fearful to call attention to and correct their children for fear of "lowering their self-esteem."

- Mothers of families who have bought into the myth of “you have to feel OK with yourself”, leave their children and husbands because they consider them an obstacle to their own self-fulfillment. I have seen many married women who in their antsiness to “feel good about themselves, so that they can give to others”, leave their families "just for a while” and it turns out that then their selfishness has grown so much that they never return. They become accustomed to centering their attention on themselves, on their own needs, likes, desires, preferences, and so they never return.

- Hundreds of separations and divorces caused by the selfishness of the married partners, who are convinced that if they hold themselves in high esteem, there is no reason to permit the other to ask anything of them. “It’s not fair that he treats me like this”, “It’s not fair that she ignores me”, “I give it my all and he/she doesn’t give anything.” Because of worrying about self-esteem, they have forgotten that married love consists of total and unconditional surrender to the other (in good times and in bad) forever (until death do us part). These marriages consist of immature love from the beginning and never arrive at mature love, about which Benedict XVI tells us:  Now love becomes care for or of the other. It does no longer seek itself, the immersion into the exhilaration of happiness, but it rather seeks the good of the loved person: it becomes renunciation, ready for sacrifice, indeed seeking it. (Deus Caritas Est n.6)
This mature love, from the surrender and denial of self, is incompatible with the self-esteem that we are being sold today.

- Seminaries that empty, because the self-esteem workshops have made them believe that the rules of discipline and obedience are contrary to their dignity.

- Religious communities in conflict from within against their superiors, against the bishop, choosing self-suffiency (an elevated self-esteem) over community, because choosing community would be a sign of "low self-esteem."

- Dozens of Catholic lecturers and instructors who out of “self-esteem” are afraid to mention God in their discourses. For fear of what will be said about them, for fear that they will lose credibility, that they will be branded as "religious nuts", they cease to give place to God, the only one Who can solve man's problems.

Cardinal Ratziner tells us the correct method for Catholic speeches: “We are not looking for listening for ourselves—we do not want to increase the power and the spreading of our institutions, but we wish to serve for the good of the people and humanity giving room to he who is Life.”  This expropriation of one's person, offering it to Christ for the salvation of men, is the fundamental condition of the true commitment for the Gospel. "I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive," says the Lord. (John 5:43). (Joseph Ratzinger Conference Address in Rome, December 10, 2000.)

These Catholic lecturers and instructors that are afraid to speak of God don’t think about the fact that God might be heard through their words. Their self-esteem greatly concerns them, they are terrified that someone might criticize them, and so they prefer to leave God out of their lectures.

Hundreds of Catholic apostolates, by exalting man, have changed their identity and purpose of evangelization (to bring man to eternal salvation), for a “humanism” based on “self-improvement”, on “human promotion”, on “raising the self-esteem of the listeners”, where the so-called “human values” are substituted for virtues based on a heroic and unselfish love, and by putting the person in the center have made him grow in such a way that God no longer exists inside those apostolates. 
Pope Benedict XVI reveals his deep concern for these apostolic works that have lost their Christian identity, substituting man (with a high self-esteem) for God:

“In fact, it is quite impossible to separate the response to people’s material and social needs from the fulfilment of the profound desires of their hearts.”  (Message of Benedict XVI for Lent 2006.)

“Very often, when having to address grave problems, they have thought that they should first improve this world and only afterwards turn their minds to the next. The temptation was to believe that, in the face of urgent needs, the first imperative was to change external structures. The consequence, for some, was that Christianity became a kind of moralism, ‘believing’ was replaced with ‘doing’. Rightly, therefore, my Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, observed: “The temptation today is to reduce Christianity to merely human wisdom, a pseudo-science of well-being. In our heavily secularized world a "gradual secularization of salvation" has taken place, so that people strive for the good of man, but man who is truncated, reduced to his merely horizontal dimension. We know, however, that Jesus came to bring integral salvation.”  (Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, Message of Benedict XVI for Lent 2006.)

“Let me put this in different terms: the attempt, carried to the extremes, to shape human affairs to the total exclusion of God leads us more and more to the brink of the abyss, toward the utter annihilation of man.” Benedict XVI in his book Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures.

Self-esteem is the big door that has opened the Church to the infiltration of New Age ideologies, which all have something in common: seek self-complacency, self-satisfaction, put Self in the center, forgetting God.

Already many years ago His Holiness Paul VI said: “The smoke of Satan has entered the Church.”  He says “smoke” because smoke is light, subtle, easily penetrates any crevice, it is difficult to plug it up or impede its passage, it is volatile, it mixes perfectly with pure air, it is breathed in together with the air even without trying.

Self-love, self-esteem, is the ideal crack through which the “smoke” of many ideologies can enter – ideologies such as those of Freud, Teilhard de Chardin, Hans Kung, Leonardo Boff, Anthony de Mello, Paulo Coelho, Cony Mendex, etc., because they get into the minds of Catholics in a subtle, refined, and almost imperceptible way.

These are ideologies that “sound nice” (self-esteem, self-fulfillment, interior freedom, inner peace, wellbeing, order, balance, feeling good about oneself), but that are in reality diabolical, deceptive, deceitful, destroyers of the most authentic essence of Christianity, which is to deny oneself out of love for others.

These ideologies intermix, just like smoke with air, with the true doctrine, in words that are easy to accept by lax consciences, and construct a new “doctrine” contaminated with selfishness, that gradually and steadily destroys the true message of Jesus Christ (love and surrender), until they take total control of the intelligence and the heart of the believer, at last bringing about the kingdom of Self and the total disappearance of God in the believer's life.

Such have been the consequences of the infiltration of self-esteem within the Church:  self-centered people who believe that they no longer need God to achieve happiness and they exchange Him for anything that their selfish ideas more comfortable.


12. If your child tells you he can't do anything, that he feels worthless, shouldn’t you try to raise his self-esteem?

“High self-esteem” and “low self-esteem” are two sides of the same coin, which is pride.

High self-esteem is pure pride, because thinking that “I’m worth it”, “I’m really something” is the result of seeing and comparing oneself with others, and coming to believe that we can do something good by ourselves without God.

Low self-esteem also is pure pride, because to think, “I’m worthless”, etc., is likewise the result of self-centeredness.

A Christian should not contemplate himself for very long, but only as much as necessary in order to know himself or to do an examination of conscience, realizing that he is a small creature that has been given gifts from God; these gifts must be compared against the fruits that ought to result.  If you are a fig tree…you should be producing figs.

“A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, `Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?”

A Christian should not love himelf, but should deny himself so that he can go in search of others. Get rid of all that you have, in order to serve and love. Rid yourself of all that hinders you (and what may hinder you most is your selfishness) to go out and give of yourself to others, without thinking of yourself.

We should not tell persons with “low self-esteem” things like, “See what a wonderful, worthy person you are, yes, you really are” - because then we enable them to turn even more inward, in contemplation of their own, miserable selves. Such persons must be pushed (or pulled) to do something for others to extract themselves from the black hole of their egocentricism, their self-contemplation and self-pity...which is pure pride.

They need to see that there are people that need them, they need to cease to see themselves and start to help others. That is the best therapy.

“Only my readiness to encounter my neighbour and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well. Only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me.” (Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est n.18)

So according to the Pope, the best therapy for “low self-esteem” is service to others, helping our neighbor. This is the way for man to discover just how very much God loves him.

Denying oneself does not mean, “I am worthless”, “I am nobody” (that is “low self-esteem” which is the same as “great pride”).

As God’s creatures, we all have great value and nobody can deny that. But our value comes from God’s love for us, and not because we love ourselves.

The Christian has no reason to give value to his own image. He knows that he is God’s creation. He knows that all that he is and all that he has he owes to God. Positive or negative “self-image training” is a waste of time, because this line of thinking is NOT Christian.

The good received from God does not serve to provide the Christian with “training for a positive self-image”, rather, it means a commitment, an enormous responsibility before God and man.

The true follower of Jesus Christ is one who knows that he can do nothing without Him – “without Me ye can do nothing” – because whatever is done apart from God has no eternal value.

The Christian knows that his worth does not depend on what he has (cars, houses, etc.), nor on what he is (handsome, nice, intelligent), but on the fact that God loves him, and with this he can then serve God and fellow man. He is aware that, “At the end of life, the only thing that remains is what we have done for God and for our fellow man.” (Fr. Marcial Maciel L.C.)

It does man no good to say, “I am intelligent”, “I am nice”…if that intelligence and that niceness are not used in the service of others.

Jesus teaches us this very well in the parable of the talents:  he who had received five returned five more, he who had received two returned two more, but…the one who worried about his “self-esteem” and kept his talent for himself received a strong scolding.

The talents that the Christian receives are not so that he can feel proud of himself or to lift his “self-esteem.” Quite the opposite…to the Christian, each talent is a commitment, a requirement: “To whomsoever much has been given, from him much will be required…”

So it is that if you see that your child has many talents, far from complimenting him to "increase his self-esteem", the only thing that you should help increase is his willingness to give to others, because for every talent received, fruit will be expected.

If you base the happiness of your children on their personal talents (that is, on their self-esteem) you will be building a very fragile base, because we have all seen gorgeous models that have been disfigured, athletes that have been paralyzed, great intellectual minds destroyed by Alzheimer's, millionnaires who lost everything. What would become of their happiness if it were based only on their talents?


13. Conclusion:  Authentic fulfillment has nothing to do with self-esteem

True happiness consists not in loving oneself, but in knowing oneself to be loved by God and therefore responsible for showing this love to others.

If every day you remember that you are a child of God, that all you have was received from Him, and that you will have to give an account for what has been given you, this will be enough for you to be able do everything well - but without allowing yourself to give place to pride, because you know that God has the leading role, and you are only in charge of putting up the stage sets so that it is God who shines.

You must know that He is the artist and you are only the brush; He is the writer and you are only the pen; He is the musician and you are only the violin; He is the sculptor and you are only the chisel. It is He who deserves all the applause…after all, have you ever heard anyone applaud a brush, a violin, a chisel?

I think that life is like a ballgame, in which God throws us the ball so that we can then pass it on to others.

The ball respresents the talents He gives us, which can be many or few, and that the purpose of the game is just to “pass the ball to others”, mattering little if the ball is pretty or ugly, big or small, shiny or opaque. What matters is that we pass it on.

Promoting the concept of self-esteem is just as silly as thinking that when God throws me the ball, instead of passing it on to others, I should catch it and hide it, grabbing it all for myself, and then take it to my room to clean it, gaze at it, admire it, stroke it, kiss it, applaud it, wrap it up, and then…go show it off to others as if it were my own, feeling privileged and proud because “God threw it to me.”

How might others respond to me?

-“Yes, we know, we saw that God threw it to you, but…don’t be an idiot, pass it on now, that’s the whole point of the game!”

Let’s not spoil God’s ballgame. Let us teach our children to pass the ball on, almost without even looking at it.

I would like to conclude with the words of the greatest of women, Mary, our Blessed Mother, espressing the reasons for “her self-esteem”:

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.”

Of her, His Holiness Benedict XVI says: “Mary's greatness consists in the fact that she wants to magnify God, not herself.” (Deus Caritas Est, n. 41)

Leave your comments below or post your opinion on this subject in the open discussion forum: http://forums.catholic.net


Translated by Elizabeth Segura, a Catholic.net Volunteer. Become a Catholic.net volunteer today: www.catholic.net/volunteers 



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Published by: ja
Date: 2012-06-21 16:21:20
Good reading...insightful and requires discernment. Self-esteem is essential. The seeds we plant (as parents) and how we nurture it has to be focused on God's love and the gifts/talents we have been blessed with and how we are able (and must) share this love with the people around us. The author captures this well. We are, after all, channels of His grace and love. We should find contentment and be proud to be given the opportunity to serve Him.

Published by: carlos francisco
Date: 2011-09-16 14:20:01
mr. Lucrecia Rego de Planas, i think you are very much mistaken with your understanding of self-esteem. one thing you also missed is to put the references/source of your quotes properly at the end of your article so we could verify that what your quoting are exact and true. A good writer does that and a good reader double checks the references. We cannot just take your word at face value. Mr. Thom is correct,you are referring to selfishness..and the method you present your article reflects a writer that is being too selfish with his ideas.. you quoted scriptures without reflection and without depth and understanding.. you are like some preacher who likes to tailor verses to suit his selfish ideas.. instead of bringing light to the subject, you are misleading us as your are misled...

Published by: Clod
Date: 2011-06-24 10:45:12
This article is an answer to my prayers. I have been praying the Novena to the Holy Spirit since Ascension Thursday and know it was the Holy Spirit which led me here. The concept of self esteem is something I have struggled with, as a Catholic, for a long time. Having read this (and an article by Paul C. Vitz entitled 'The Problem with Self Esteem), I'm struggling no more. A very liberating piece of writing. Thank you.

Published by: Karl Kessler
Date: 2010-10-11 20:45:11
Christ's command "Love your neighbor as yourself" implies self-love, doesn't it? Surely Christ doesn't want us to love our neighbor badly, or not at all. He must want us to love our neighbor very much, and expects us to love ourselves this much as well, no?

Published by: jill
Date: 2009-01-01 10:00:00
what a beautiful explantion. very well done.

Published by: Thom
Date: 2009-01-01 10:00:00
What you are talking about is selfishness, not self-esteem. We should certainly discern selfishness as opposed to Christianity.

Published by: jill
Date: 2009-01-01 10:00:00
what a beautiful explantion. very well done.

Published by: Thom
Date: 2009-01-01 10:00:00
What you are talking about is selfishness, not self-esteem. We should certainly discern selfishness as opposed to Christianity.

Published by: jill
Date: 2009-01-01 10:00:00
what a beautiful explantion. very well done.

Published by: Thom
Date: 2009-01-01 10:00:00
What you are talking about is selfishness, not self-esteem. We should certainly discern selfishness as opposed to Christianity.

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