Self-esteem is such a tricky topic. In my opinion, anyone who thinks it’s a simple concept is mistaken. I used to think that increasing self-esteem would consist of a long, painstaking journey, with numerous steps and stages. I thought that even if someone managed the journey, they may still end up dissatisfied, heartbroken, or confused.
But in this article that anyone can feel free to criticize or disagree with, I’d like to argue that self-esteem is something you don’t even need to worry about. If one isn’t even worrying about self-esteem, then there is no journey to undertake. You’re fine where you’re at. Accepting where you’re at right now is the answer. That’s my whole argument. This argument isn’t exactly mine either, but rather something I learned from the author Mark Manson.
A couple of years ago, I read a book that changed my life and way of
thinking completely. The Subtle Art of Not of Giving a F*** by Mark Manson was a much needed breath of fresh air amid a plethora of self-esteem articles and books that I was reading; articles telling me to constantly do more, be more, become a magical positive thinking robot who’s happy all the time and has no negative thoughts or self-worth issues whatsoever.
“The answer was right there!” the articles told me. If I did certain activities more — like meditate, pray, make vision boards, do positive affirmations — analyze and alter my thoughts, everything will change, and my self-esteem would then skyrocket! No wonder I had become fed up with all those articles and books. When you do everything the internet tells you to do, and yet you somehow feel worse than before because you’re constantly searching for the next step, the next action, and never, ever feeling like you’re enough; when you beat yourself up every time you have negative thoughts because the self-help articles say you’re supposed to make those disappear or replace
them with a happy, bubbly thought that says something amazingly positive, and you can’t do it all the time, because that is so much damn work — when you’re at a point like that, you need something new. You need something simple. You need someone to tell you that maybe increasing self-esteem isn’t a problem you have to worry about anyway.
Maybe the key to a good sense of self-esteem and self-respect is to find a bigger problem to worry about so that the attention isn’t on yourself anymore. Maybe the key to solving this problem is to stop giving it attention, and instead work on living a good, principled life based on good values and beliefs. Maybe the key is to find a mission — a purpose and goal that you want to live up to and achieve, and to spend every day productively striving to attain.
If your goal is to become a successful author, and you sincerely strive to think of ideas, write them down, dedicate time to hone your craft, increase your skills, and seek out opportunities for yourself, will you really have the time to think about your views about yourself, analyze every thought that enters your brain, and wonder about whether you’re an amazing, likable person or an awful loser? No. You won’t. You’ll be thinking about achieving your goals. You’ll be so engrossed in being productive and making your dreams come alive that increasing self-esteem won’t even be an issue you worry about anymore. Herein lies my claim: Don’t worry about increasing your self-esteem. Don’t worry about being confident. Find out what your mission and purpose in life is. Find out what your beliefs and values are. Sit down and ask yourself these important, essential questions. If you don’t have answers, make it your goal to find the answers. And when you do find your answers, work every single day to live your life according to those answers.
Herein lies my claim: Don’t worry about increasing your self-esteem. Don’t worry about being confident. Find out what your mission and purpose in life is. Find out what your beliefs and values are. Sit down and ask yourself these important, essential questions. If you don’t have answers, make it your goal to find the answers. And when you do find your answers, work every single day to live your life according to those answers.
Are you living your purpose everyday? Are you striving to achieve your mission? Are you living according to your principles and values? These are the questions and problems that we should spend our time and energy on answering and solving. The key to increasing our self-esteem is to live a good life. The key is to take the attention off of ourselves. The solution isn’t to look at ourselves in the mirror and somehow convince ourselves that we are beautiful. The solution isn’t to analyze our personality, and wonder whether it’s a likable one or not. The solution is to have a goal and mission that is so much bigger than ourselves. The solution is to be so engrossed in living our purpose, and achieving our goals that we don’t even have time to worry too much about ourselves.
If my goal is to become a physician assistant and I know that I need good grades in my science classes to achieve that goal, so much of my time and energy will be poured into my studies that any negative thought that even enters my brain would have to be ignored completely. Giving it attention would distract me, and take away valuable time that I need to put into studying. If my true purpose and mission is to achieve my career goals, ignoring negative thoughts and not paying them any mind is something that would naturally occur. It would have to occur in order for my career goals to be achieved. This is an example to show how having a purpose and working to achieve that purpose would bring about a healthy sense of self-esteem naturally. Not paying attention to the problem of negative thoughts would solve the problem of negative thoughts.
Another realization that came to me as I was reading Mark Manson’s book was how Islam teaches us these same concepts. Allah gave us the answer to everything in the form of this perfect way of Iife, Islam. Allah told us what our main mission and purpose in life is. It is to worship Him alone and to follow His commandments. Allah gave us a struggle and a goal. He told us about Heaven and Hell. He told us about the Hereafter that is waiting for us. It is our job to work hard in this world to achieve the ultimate goal — Allah’s pleasure, and Heaven forever. Someone who is so focused on pleasing Allah and attaining reward in the next life, which will last forever and ever — they won’t be worrying about their thoughts about themselves or about what other people think of them. They will be focused on what Allah thinks of them.
One of the root causes of low self-esteem is an excessive worry about what other people are thinking of us. Allah tells us to only worry about what He is thinking. Glory be to Allah. All the answers are with Him. Anyone who searches elsewhere for answers will only find themselves more lost. As Allah says Himself in the Holy Quran, Chapter 65 Verse 3: “And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him.”