Allah will not change a condition of a people until they change what is within themselves. Quran (13:11)
I recently listened to a really interesting lecture about self esteem and the islamic perspective. It was really interesting to hear as we all suffer from low self esteem in one way or another. So learning about self esteem will help us to increase our self esteem.
Self-esteem: The value you place on yourself, which enables you to love and cherish who you are and care for yourself accordingly.
Having good self esteem and self worth gives you self confidence. You have a positive outlook in life and are thankful for what you have. It’s so important to be grateful as the opposite of shirk is kufr. This in turn will help you succeed in life as you will be more resistant to difficulties and obstacles and be able to overcome them. Having good self esteem will help to improve your relationships, as you are comfortable with yourself you won’t feel jealous, intimidated or threatened by anyone else. For example the mother/sister in law can be threatened by the daughter in law, they sometimes feel that the daughter in law will “take” the son from them. Having good self esteem means that you are confident in your relationship so will not feel that a new person will destroy that relationship. One of the most important reasons for having good self esteem is that it will give you inner peace. You won’t be obsessed over the events of the past and keep blaming yourself for mistakes that can’t be changed. You will be able to accept whatever has happened and learn from it and move on.
None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself. (Bukhari)
This hadith is so important it teaches that we should feel good about who we are and be able to see the success of others and we should not feel jealous of what others have. When we constantly feel as though you deserve what others have more than them or you are jealous of their success it is as if you are questioning Allahs wisdom. Allah gave that person that success for a reason, but do we think we know better than Allah? Allah is al-Hakeem, the wise, He knows exactly what is best and for whom. We should remember that just as want certain things, we should also want others to have it too. But we need to have good self worth and self esteem to be able to want for others what you want for yourself.
So what does it mean to have good self esteem? The sister explained different components that make up having good self esteem.
1) Your personality – having a strong personality improves your self esteem.
2) Spirituality – you are true to what you believe. You are not easily influenced to change your opinions to match what others are saying. You live by your own values and standards.
3) Looks – you feel content with your looks. You avoid both extremes of being obsessed and letting go.
4) Sense of purpose – You know where you are heading
5) Sense of belonging and acceptance – You are at peace with yourself and accept yourself the way you are.
6) Sense of competence – you have proficiency in different areas and are aware of areas of self improvement. You are able to filter information in an empowering way.
7) Influence others – you are aware of the impact you have on others and you know when to take feedback from others.
So our self esteem is affected by many different factors in life.
There are ways to improve your self esteem and as we are all vulnerable to suffering from low self esteem at some point in our lives it’s important to know ways in which we can improve our self esteem.
1) We all do a lot of self-talking. We speak to ourselves in our head all the time. I can’t do this or what will people think if I did this? We need to change our self talk into one that is positive. Tell ourselves that we can do it, that we have the ability to achieve the goal. Motivate ourselves.
2) Surrounding yourself with positive people can make a huge difference in your self esteem. The type of people you surround yourself with affects how you think. So if the people you are around are always complaining, are ungrateful and always focus on the negative then you will be pulled into that type of thinking. And the opposite is also true. So it’s important to be careful in who you spend your time with.
3) Celebrate small successes. Don’t wait until the absolute end of a goal to celebrate. Celebrate each milestone, each step you took. Take the time to acknowledge each step and reward yourself for achieving it. It will help to motivate you and encourage you.
4) Volunteer for a charity. Sometimes you can’t see it from the inside so you need to start on the outside. The feeling you get when you help someone can help you a lot in making you feel better about yourself. It makes you more grateful and helps you see the good in your life by helping those less fortunate than ourselves.
5) Dress in a presentable way. The way you are dressed can impact the way you think about yourself. So even if you are at home all day don’t stay in your pyjamas.
So we should all work on our self esteem as there are many things in life which can affect it. But we shouldn’t confuse good self esteem with arrogance. Self esteem is appreciating what you have been give, being grateful. It is not feeling that you are better than others. There is no contradiction between good self esteem and being humble. Having good self esteem means you feel safe and secure about who you are