While it is good to have a high self-esteem, it is not when we get fat in self-importance. A high self-esteem is the objective awareness of who we really are. An obese self-importance is an exaggerated sense of our value and importance.
It is not good to have a low self-esteem that misses our real dignity as persons and as children of God, meant to be God’s image and likeness and to share in his divine life. We should try our best to build up and keep a high self-esteem that is always compatible with humility.
When we have a high self-esteem, our capacity to work, to help and serve others, and most importantly, to thank God and to be always with him, increases. We would be willing to do anything, even to play the role of being the servant of all servants. That would be no problem to us. In fact, it would reinforce our self-esteem.
Definitely, to have a high self-esteem would involve a constant reference to God. It would make one strive to always have presence of God, to know his will and ways and to do his best to follow them. It would make us feel that we are always accompanied, and that whatever situation we may find ourselves in, whether good or bad, we would still feel safe and secure.
Having a high self-esteem will lead others to see, feel and love God through us, while we hide and disappear. It does not steal the limelight from God. If we truly have a high self-esteem, we would feel good that we be ignored while doing a lot of good for others out of love for God.
When we have a high self-esteem, we would know how to distinguish between making full use of all our talents and powers for the good of all, and simply strutting our stuff, eager to show off, hungry for people’s admiration. Of course, we would do the former while avoiding the latter.
But we should try our best also to avoid any trace of self-importance because we would just be deceiving and fooling ourselves. A fat self-importance is always awash with pride, vanity, an exaggerated self-awareness and overvaluing of our own assets, talents, resources, etc. All these blind us or, at least, distort the objective reality of who we are. It is an over-estimation that actually degrades us.
A bloated self-importance stems from one’s very subjective assessment of his own self, deprived of any reference to God. It is simply built up on one’s own consideration of his human and natural powers and fortunes. It stands on no solid ground, but rather on shifting sands. It’s actually not stable, and is highly prone to mental disorders like the bipolar cases that, sad to say, are rising these days.
When we have an intense sense of self-importance, we always want to be acknowledged, thanked, appreciated, admired, spoken highly by others. We would suffer when we are ignored, and more so when we are insulted and humiliated. We would always want to show off, if not to dominate others.
When we have this anomaly, we many times end up uneasy and tense, obsessed with perfectionism and the urge to control and to be on top of others. We always want to succeed and to win in any game.And when we lose, we usually become a sore loser, feeling quite devastated.
Another sign of this perverse sense of self-importance is to have an extreme feeling of entitlement. We would want to have as many privileges and benefits to such an extent that we would feel deprived if we would not have any of them. We also would become over-sensitive.
We should learn to clearly distinguish between a healthy high self-esteem and a bloated sense of self-importance. We should know where the basis of this distinction lies.*