Low self-esteem is a humanity thing. I believe most people struggle with this—some of us more than others.
Low self-esteem results from thoughts, temperament, and treatment.
I’ve discussed the importance of taking control of our thoughts, but what can we do about temperament?
We’re born with personality traits that continue developing as we grow. During my young years, I was outgoing and friendly—positive traits that overshadowed any forewarning of troublesome habits in the making.
My personality proved an asset when I began writing for the newspaper, shortly before marrying my high-school sweetheart. After finishing college, I joined the full-time news staff. Being a people-person, I thrived on the excitement of interviews and interaction that brought new friends into my life.
I excelled under pressure—even found it stimulating. I interviewed celebrities, shook hands with President Richard Nixon, won awards, and wrote my first book at age twenty-four. Four years later I left the newspaper to be a stay-at-home mom, ecstatic and idealistic about the greatest adventure of my life.
But negative personality traits made a surprise appearance. Without the accountability of a time clock and a daily plan, I had no organization or self-discipline. I felt overwhelmed and angry with myself for not measuring up to my accustomed level of performance. What happened to that successful young journalist who had it all together?
Discouragement sent me searching for solutions and eventually to Dr. Tim LaHaye’s book, Understanding the Male Temperament. I thought understanding my husband would help me become the perfect wife. I didn’t expect to see my flaws and limitations exposed.
Dr. LaHaye said temperament—a combination of traits we receive from our parents—has a profound influence on behavior. He described four basic temperaments: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy, and Phlegmatic. My personality had a name, Sanguine, with these strengths—outgoing, friendly, talkative, and carefree. He nailed my weaknesses—undisciplined, weak-willed, restless, disorganized, unproductive, undependable, fearful, and insecure.
Processing this information, I realized lack of discipline explains why Sanguines tend to be overweight and run a little late. Insecurity causes us to be people-pleasers who seek approval and have trouble saying “no.” Our deep emotions make us sentimental even about things of little value.
I was a mess…and I didn’t like myself. But I could blame my weaknesses on temperament.
The other temperaments also have weaknesses, but their strengths usually dominate. Dr. LaHaye listed Choleric strengths: strong-willed, decisive, practical, optimistic, courageous, confident. He said Melancholies are analytical, perfectionist, idealistic, self-sacrificing, self-disciplined. Phlegmatic traits include efficient, organized, dependable, practical.
I learned most of us are a blend of at least two temperaments, and strengths of one temperament may cancel weaknesses of the secondary temperament. Predominantly Sanguine, I took another look and noticed my strengths have nothing to do with getting things done. My strengths involve relationships and emotions, not productivity. Both Sanguine weaknesses (undisciplined, disorganized) and strengths (talkative, carefree) can be exasperating for other temperaments.
I wanted to change temperaments. After sufficient grieving over my inadequacies, I had to accept that God created me with my particular personality for a purpose. My strengths had been an advantage, and God assured me he could do something about my weaknesses.
Personality may explain our weaknesses, but it doesn’t excuse them, and blowing them off with a flip “that’s just the way I am” doesn’t lead to responsible living. I’ve made two observations: the greater the strengths the greater the weaknesses, and the natural temperament left to itself becomes worse and worse. Our only hope to strengthen weaknesses is total reliance on the power of Christ.Personality may explain our weaknesses, but it doesn’t excuse them, and blowing them off with a flip “that’s just the way I am” doesn’t lead to responsible living. I’ve made two observations: the greater the strengths the greater… Click To Tweet
What do you think about yourself? When you look in the mirror, do you mutter unkind words about your appearance? “You’re so fat!” “You don’t look nearly as good as you thought you did!”
Would you make those rude comments to a friend? Or even a stranger?
Throughout the day, do you engage in self-bashing, belittling yourself for mistakes or failure to live up to your own expectations?
For most of my life I fought low self-esteem, feelings of inferiority, and insecurity—three cronies that battered me into believing I didn’t measure up.
Don’t you think it’s time we treat ourselves with as much courtesy as a stranger? Can’t we give ourselves a little grace concerning our imperfections?
Stop the self-bashing! Speak truth to yourself! God loves me just as I am. He can never love me more and he will never love me less. I can do nothing to earn his love. He loved me before he created me. When I belittle myself, I’m condemning his creation.Stop the self-bashing! Speak truth to yourself! God loves me just as I am. He can never love me more and he will never love me less. I can do nothing to earn his love. He loved me before he created me. When I belittle myself, I’m… Click To Tweet
Quit beating yourself up because you didn’t get all the gifts of all the temperaments. Appreciate your strengths and surrender your weaknesses to God. He’s a specialist at temperament modification.
Memorize these truths:
- I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
- I am here on purpose.
- I won’t compare my weakness with someone else’s strength.
- I do some things well.
- I am not competing with anyone for God’s will for my life.
We talk more about this next week.
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(Adapted from I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life.)
© Dianne Barker 2018 (reprinted)