Sometimes it happens to even the best of us. We aren’t watching for it, we aren’t expecting it, but suddenly it overwhelms us like a tsunami. In a moment we’re plunged into the depths of sorrow and despair. Now we find ourselves grappling with negative thoughts, we realize we’ve lost confidence in our abilities, we have let go of all sense of self-worth. This is the plague of low self-esteem and none of us is immune.
What can we do in these times when our self-esteem plummets? How can we respond when our self-worth is at low ebb? Here’s a quick fix for low self-esteem, a tried and true pick-me-up: Say something negative about another person. Find a friend and share a juicy little tidbit of gossip; go online and spark a discussion to belittle a common enemy; if all else fails, just sit quietly and ponder another person’s foibles and flaws. Very quickly you’ll find yourself beginning to feel better, and soon you’ll have regained your boldness and confidence. Your self-worth will have been restored.
Here’s the reason this method is so effective. Low self-esteem is first a spiritual problem. It springs up where there is low spiritual maturity and lack of godly character. Where these traits are lacking, we easily fall into the sin of comparison. We compare ourselves to others and inevitably lose. We see their accomplishments but our failures, their progress but our shortcomings. We see the ways in which they are gifted but we are ordinary. We remember accolades they have gained and the so-many times we have been overlooked and under-appreciated. Despair is never far away.
We can address this downward spiral through growth in spiritual maturity and commitment to godly character. These traits disrupt and destroy the comparison game by causing us to compare ourselves to the incomparable Son of God. Now we realize the utter futility of comparing ourselves to anyone else but Christ. Now we look “to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” to be inspired by his holiness and seek forgiveness for our depravity.
But maturity and character are traits that are hard to come by. They require time and effort, diligence and discipline. But gossip? That’s easy. We’re already naturals at that, already well-practiced in it, and this is exactly why it is our ready response to low self-esteem. We gossip to make ourselves feel better. We gossip to address low thoughts of ourselves by broadcasting even lower thoughts of others. We gossip when our love for others is too low and our love for self is too high. After all, diminishing an enemy requires far less effort than personal growth. It’s easier to disparage another person than to improve yourself. Gossip is our ready, but temporary, fix for low self-esteem.