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Devra Torres

Self-Esteem Without Selfishness: Increasing Your Capacity for Love

Feb. 26 at 11:05pm

The book on self-esteem I translated last summer (and wrote about here) is out!  At least, it's available for pre-ordering from Scepter Publishers.  Here's my synopsis as it appears in the catalog:

We’ve all been exhorted to cultivate self-esteem and nurture a positive self-image. That sounds appealing. But we also know that God calls us to humility. And many well-intentioned Christians have it in the back of their minds that being humble means living their lives in a haze of discouragement, anxiety, and preoccupation with their own sinfulness.

After all, the only alternative our culture seems to offer is a vacuous “I’m OK, you’re OK” relativism: the false peace that this world gives. We know that can’t be right. 

So how can we attain the peace God wants for us if we’re mired in self-contempt? How can we spread Christian joy if we don’t have any ourselves?

In Self-Esteem Without Selfishness, Fr. Michel Esparza leads the way out of this conundrum. A lively sense of a Father who looks on us with delight and unconditional love, together with a fearless acceptance of our own wretchedness, is the key. Fr. Esparza teaches us how to cultivate that “humble self-esteem” which neither strays from the truth about the person nor fosters discouragement at our failures. Bringing together the best of classic spiritual wisdom and the insights of contemporary psychology, he distinguishes between self-esteem in the shallow, pop-psychology sense and the rightly ordered self-love that is anything but self-centered.


 

Katie van Schaijik

many well-intentioned Christians have it in the back of their minds that being humble means living their lives in a haze of discouragement, anxiety, and preoccupation with their own sinfulness.

You mean it doesn't? What a relief. :)

 

#1 - Feb. 27 at 9:15am | quote

Devra Torres

Isn't it nice to know that something so ineffective isn't God's will?

#2 - Feb. 27 at 10:40am | quote

 

Rhett Segall

Devra:

Fr. Bernard Harring in The Law of Christ refers to "a holy pride", which I think is also a good way of putting it.

On the other hand, I think Albert Ellis in "The Myth of Self Esteem" has something well worth thinking about. What counts for our psychological health, Ellis asserts, is self-acceptance. It is more radical than self esteem, which is quite precarious and frequently rooted in social expectations.


Rhett

#3 - Feb. 27 at 3:03pm | quote

Devra Torres

Rhett, I agree, and I think Fr. Michel would, too, with what you say about self-acceptance.  He mentioned to me once that he didn't think "self-esteem" was the most felicitous way of putting what he was really talking about.  The original version of the book, I think, was published in the midst of the self-esteem craze, and using the term was a way of catching the attention of people who were misled by that trend. 

#4 - Feb. 28 at 9:40pm | quote

 

Michel Esparza

Indeed, Devra, it's a way of catching people's attention. But it is also true that the "self-love" felt by a good christian is much more than self-acceptance...

#5 - May. 7 at 4:17am | quote

Devra Torres

Yes, self-esteem (as the term is usually used) is something very superficial; self-acceptance is something more solid, and more rare.  Fr. Michel, would you say that self-acceptance can be achieved naturally--on the basis of common sense and a robust psychological constitution, maybe--and rightly ordered self-love is something supernatural, depending on the revelation of God's love for us?

#6 - May. 7 at 4:45pm | quote

 

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