Sunday, June 3, 2012

Positive Self-Esteem.

I taught my first lesson in Relief Society today. It was really fun....and terrifying. I learned so much from my RS sisters as we discussed the topic of my lesson. It was on the integral role of positive self-esteem in reaching and realizing our divine potential. 

Harold B. Lee defined Self-esteem as "righteous self-respect that might be defined as 'belief in one's own worth, worth to God and worth to man." I am LDS and I believe that we are all spirit sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father with a divine potential and purpose in this life. I believe that Jesus Christ not only believed we were worth dying for but that we were worth living for as well. His life was a life of happiness, sorrow, friendship,self-less service and undying faith in Heavenly Father.  I believe, also, that we will go on after this life into the eternities and I believe we don't have to go into the eternities alone. I believe that families can be together forever. 

I was wondering how I could improve my self-esteem (it is something I have struggled with for a long time) so, I studied it out and prayed about it and gave my lesson on it today and received a lot of wonderful input from my lovely Relief Society sisters. Teaching is not only to help those being taught but to also help the teacher as well. I was so excited for today because I knew that I was going to learn so much from my Sisters. Here is what we discussed mixed in with a few of my own thoughts.

We know that developing a strong relationship with our Heavenly Father can improve our self-esteem by leaps and bounds. We can do this by praying, committing to daily scripture study, applying the Atonement more often in our lives, visiting teaching, and being a friend and servant to others. Visiting Teaching and Relief society are also wonderful ways to serve one another and develop everlasting friendships. We can go to the Temple to receive strength, direction, comfort, and give service. Why do we do this? To find truth. To find true and everlasting happiness. To find hope.

We also decided that speaking positively and thinking positively about ourselves and others can make a huge difference in the way we see ourselves. If we can find something to be grateful for always then we can be happy even in the most trying of times. I believe happiness is a choice. It is easier to be happy in some places of the world than in others but nevertheless happiness is always waiting to be found and remembered. Sometimes we must suffer in the depths of despair to appreciate the exquisite joy the simplest of things can bring. I have found that, often times, some of the happiest people have suffered the most pain. But in the end it is not who has suffered more or in what way, it matters how they decided to view their suffering and whether or not they chose to grow and be made better because of it. If we continue to compare ourselves to others we may miss the unique gifts and talents the Lord has blessed us with. How to we think more positively? We can replace bad thoughts with good ones. Whenever you are thinking something that brings you or others down, stop immediately and think of something that does not involve the physical that brings you joy. Some quality you see in yourself or another that lasts far longer than a haircut or a clear complexion. Replace the scowls in the mirror with smiles. List the things you can do for others. Serve someone. Help someone achieve a goal they have. Encourage those trying to develop talents. Listen to those who need someone even if it may be inconvenient for you. Express appreciation often. Show your love. Do the dishes for your roommates or clean up a room in the house for your mom. Whatever it may be, let it be positive and of eternal and everlasting value. Be determined to love others and yourself. Be willing to be happy. Try to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you. Do not miss out on all the beauty and light in the world. We may have to put up a fight against despair and darkness but we will win in the end if we are on the side of truth and light and though it may seem, at times, that the sun will never shine and a cloud hangs ever over you it is as Samwise Gamgee says to Frodo in the Two Towers, 
Sam: "It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something. 
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam? 
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for. " 

We also came to the conclusion that supporting one another in all our righteous endeavors was one of the most important steps in assuring that our positive self esteem continues to grow. A recent study has shown that those with a work-out partner are 90% more likely to achieve their fitness goals and maintain them than those who do not. So it is with most things in life. A house does not stand for long if it has no support beams. A garden does not grow without constant care. We are here to help each other and to love one another. Religious or Atheist, male or female, poet or mathematician we are all in this together. We are all on the same team. I am not a fan of alienating people because they do not share my views and I hope others do not discriminate towards me either.  There is good in everyone and I am determined to see it. 

Something to remember is to always have patience with yourself. I have a motto that I live by and it is "Patience not complacency." I am wildly imperfect. I make mistakes everyday. That does not mean I have to accept that that is just the way things have to be. I refuse to accept that I cannot change for the better. I refuse to believe evil is permanent. That does not mean I hate myself for my imperfections. I pick myself up, brush myself off and start anew with increased vigor. It is hard too do. Often times it is a struggle to stand back up and keep moving (especially with increased vigor). Sam carried Frodo up Mount Doom when his burden became to heavy to bear alone. He may not have been able to bear Frodo's particular burden but he could "share the load." "Frodo wouldn't have gotten far without Sam." And so we too can place our troubles and our sorrows and our inadequacies on the Lord, Jesus Christ's, shoulders. Unlike Sam, however, Christ knows exactly how we feel. He has suffered every pain and experienced every joy each an everyone of us has had. He will help us when it seems that no one else can. Heavenly Father loves us each individually and knows our names. He is always with us. He is there to share our pain but also to share in our happiness. Sister Holland's book a quiet heart quotes " it is okay to be imperfect while striving for perfection." So you didn't check off everything on your to do list, you forgot to do the dishes, there was a misspelling in your final essay of the semester, and you didn't get to go for a walk with your dog. It is okay. You can try again. You can simplify, prioritize and reflect on the things that matter most. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." At the end of the day, instead of recounting all the mistakes you made focus on the things you did achieve that day. Go to sleep smiling. It's good for digestion. 

Try not to forget that others struggle in many different ways. Women may tend to struggle with their appearance whereas men may struggle more with feeling under appreciated in the work place or whether or not they are providing for their families adequately. Don't forget that many wonderful men, although they may not express it very often, need a boost. They need encouragement from those they love most. There are many amazing men in the world and they, like women, can use some support. Father's Day is coming up, but you don't have to wait for it to express love and gratitude towards the men in your life. Today, tomorrow and forever afterwards son can thank father, mother can thank her father, sister can compliment brother, husband can express love for his wife, father can express his love towards his children. 

I came across a story while reading Elder Marvin J Ashton's "The Measure of Our Hearts" and I would like to share it with you. I do not know the original author and I apologize sincerely. 

"One night a young idealist had a dream. He dreamed there was a new store in a nearby shopping mall. He went in and saw an angel behind a counter. Nervously, he asked what the shop sold.

“Everything your heart desires,” replied the angel.

“Then I want peace on earth,” exclaimed the idealist. “I want an end to famine, sorrow, and disease.”

“Just a moment,” replied the angel. “You haven’t understood. We don’t sell fruit here—only seeds.”

And so it is up to each and every one of us to decided to be better. Not better than our neighbor or our co-worker or our friend but to just, simply, be better than we were yesterday. It starts with each of us as individuals. If you want to learn how to cook, sew, play tennis or golf, be an awesome mother or father, if you want to love more deeply, if you want to serve more often, if you want to help others do the same, you can. You just have to take action. You just have to nourish the seeds until they grow. Take heart, for with billions of people on this earth and a Heavenly Father that loves you, you never have to go at it alone. "ask and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (3 Nephi 27:29)" 

I believe you can do anything you set your mind to. Do you?

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