Religion. It’s one of the most controversial topics of all time. While it is true that some people are religious about watching their favorite football team every Sunday, religion in general is used to describe a person’s devotion to the church they attend every week on the same day.
Although attending church can be a source of comfort for many people, it can lead to negative consequences. Religion has torn apart picture-perfect families based on the different interpretations of the “rules.” It is often the root of terrorist attacks, and it’s even been known to start wars.
By definition, religion means to tie, fasten or bind. It’s human nature for people to search for anchors, balance and clarity; however, when left to the devices of some power-hungry, confused or love-starved leaders, seekers can get bound by man-made laws that lead them astray from the essence of life: love. And while you may already have a laundry list of causes to either embrace or avoid religion, here are three more reasons you may not need a religion after all.
1. God is love, and love knows no fear.
When you find yourself tied to something, fear can’t help but be present. Think of the dog tied to a tree all day in the mid-summer heat of Texas. Or the way you’re attached to your conference call and can’t find a way to take that much-needed lunch break. Being bound to a religion is no different when it keeps you from living up to your full potential. If it’s holding you back from loving yourself or others unconditionally, binding everyone to certain judgments and limitations, then it’s opposing the essence of God, which nearly every religion interprets as love. Love sees everything in one color, is no respecter of persons, and doesn’t check bank accounts. It casts out fear and encourages you to become the best version of yourself–making everyone else around you desire to do the same.
2. Religion can become a god thing.
As the saying goes, “When a good thing become a god thing, it’s a bad thing.” Many times folks end up searching for their identity in religion rather than in the essence of the Creator. They try to earn their way into Heaven by following set rules, alienating those who don’t and losing themselves in the process. While learning about the essence of God is a good thing, pursuing perfectionism can easily become a god thing and therefore turn into a bad thing. Seeking the heart of God rather than rules of religion is the safest way to go about spirituality since everything comes down to the cycle of giving and receiving love.
3. Religion can keep you comfortable.
There are countless numbers of churches worldwide, and the majority of them talk the talk but end up limping along when it comes to walking the walk. While they may teach the necessary feel good stuff that helps move you from a mindset of lack into a space of hope and acceptance, you eventually need to be uncomfortable in order to grow in your faith and in your purpose. Staying comfortable equals staying stuck and fosters the “woe is me” mentality. If you’re not getting fidgety and craving more out of each day than just surviving, then you’re fastened to an old way of thinking that keeps you rooted in fear. In order to fulfill your destiny–and I know you have one!–you must act as the baby chicken acts and peck your way out of your shell. Peck through the past and explode into the here and now. Start by taking at just one step in the direction of your passion and then another. If religion is keeping you satisfied playing small and dreaming none, you might need to ditch the religion, take a leap of faith and trust the bridge to your passion will appear as you trust more and fear less.
Having high self-esteem is important if you are aiming for personal or professional success. Interestingly, most people will high levels of self-esteem act in similar ways. That’s why it’s often easy to pick them out in a crowd. There’s something about the way they hold themselves and speak, isn’t there?
We all have different hopes, dreams, experiences, and paths, but confidence has its own universal language. This list will present some of the things you won’t find yourself doing if you have high self-esteem.
1. Compare Yourself to Others
People with low self-esteem are constantly comparing their situation to others. On the other hand, people with higher self-esteem show empathy and compassion while also protecting their own sanity. They know how much they can handle and when they can offer a helping hand.
In the age of social media, however, social comparisons are nearly ubiquitous. One study found that “participants who used Facebook most often had poorer trait self-esteem, and this was mediated by greater exposure to upward social comparisons on social media”. Basically, you will feel worse about yourself if you are constantly getting glimpses into lives that you consider to be better than yours.
Try to limit your time on social media. Also, when you do start scrolling, keep in mind that each profile is carefully crafted to create the appearance of a perfect life. Check yourself when you find yourself wishing for greener grass.
2. Be Mean-Spirited
People with low self-esteem bully others. They take pleasure in putting other people down. People with positive self-esteem see no need to down other people, choosing instead to encourage and celebrate successes.
If you find that you feel the need to put others down, analyze where that’s coming from. If they’ve had success in life, help them feel good about that achievement. They may do the same for you one day.
3. Let Imperfection Ruin Your Day
Perfectionism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but obsessing over making everything perfect is a sign that you have low self-esteem and can lead to never-ending negative thoughts. This can turn into an inability to solve problems creatively, which will only make self-esteem issues worse.
Those with high self-esteem disconnect from the results and do their best without expecting perfection.
People with that kind of confidence understand that messing up is a part of life and that each time they aim and miss success, they’ll at least learn something along the way.
If you miss the mark, or if your plan doesn’t work out exactly as you would have liked, take a deep breath and see if you can pivot in order to do better next time.
4. Dwell on Failure
It’s common to hear people dwelling on all the ways things will go wrong. They are positive that their every failure signals an impossible task or an innate inability to do something. People with healthy self-esteem discover why they failed and try again.
People with higher levels of confidence also tend to adopt a growth mindset. This type of thinking supports the idea that most of your abilities can be improved and altered, as opposed to being fixed.
For example, instead of saying, “I’m just not good at math; that’s why I did bad on the test,” someone with a growth mindset would say, “Math is difficult for me, so I’ll have to put in some more practice to improve next time.”
Next time you experience a failure, check out this video to help you believe in yourself again:
5. Devalue Your Self-Esteem
People with high self-esteem value their own perception of themselves – they understand that they come first and don’t feel guilty about taking care of themselves. They believe charity starts within, and if they don’t believe that, they’ll never have a healthy self-image.
Self-care is often top of the priority list for people with self-esteem. For some ways to practice self-care, check out this article.
6. Try to Please Others
They can’t please all the people all the time, so confident people first focus on doing what will make them feel fulfilled and happy. While they will politely listen to others’ thoughts and advice, they know that their goals and dreams have to be completed on their own terms.
7. Close Yourself off
Confident people have the ability to be vulnerable. It’s those with poor self-esteem that hide all the best parts of themselves behind an emotional wall. Instead of keeping the real you a secret, be open and honest in all your dealings.
As Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, points out, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen”. When you embrace each facet of who you are and allow others to see them as well, it will create deeper, more meaningful connections in your life. When that happens, you’ll realize that perfection doesn’t lead to people liking you more.
You can learn more about the power of vulnerability in this TED talk with Brené Brown:
8. Follow and Avoiding Leading
People with low self-esteem don’t believe they can lead, so they end up following others, sometimes into unhealthy situations. Rather than seeking a sense of belonging, people with high self-esteem walk their own paths and create social circles that build them up.
9. Fish for Compliments
If you’re constantly seeking compliments, you’re not confident. People with high self-esteem always do their best (and go out of their way to do good deeds) because it’s what they want to do, not because they’re seeking recognition. If you need to hear compliments, say them to yourself in the mirror.
You can even try some positive affirmations if you need a confidence boost. Check out these affirmations to get started.
10. Be Lazy
People work harder when they have high self-esteem because they’re not bogged down by doubts and complaints. Those with low self-esteem end up procrastinating and wasting their energy thinking about all the work they have to do rather than rolling up their sleeves and just getting it done.
This may also bounce off perfectionism. Perfectionists often feel intimidated by certain projects if they fear that they won’t be able to complete them perfectly. Tap into your confidence and simply do your best without worrying about a perfect outcome.
11. Shy Away from Risks
When you trust yourself, you’ll be willing to participate more in life. People with low self-esteem are always on the sidelines, waiting for the perfect moment to jump in. Instead of letting life pass you by, have confidence in your success and take the risks necessary to succeed.
People with low self-esteem are always in other peoples’ business – they’re more interested in what everyone else is doing than themselves. People with high self-esteem are more interested in their own life and stay out of others’ affairs.
Instead of participating in idle gossip, talk about some positive news you heard recently, or that fascinating book you just finished. There’s plenty to talk about beyond what this or that person did wrong in their life.
The Bottom Line
Self-esteem is to success in life. People who maintain a healthy level of self-esteem believe in themselves and push themselves to succeed, while those with low confidence feel a sense of entitlement.
If you need a boost in your self-image and mental health, avoid negative self-talk and the other mistakes of people with low self-esteem. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.