Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Six Keys for Healthy Self-Esteem - James E Faust - CES Fireside 2007

Six Keys for Healthy Self-Esteem
First: Keep Your Agency
I would like to suggest six essential keys to keep a healthy self-esteem. The first key is to keep your agency. This means that we must not surrender self-control nor yield to habits that bind, to addiction that enslaves, nor to conduct that destroys. To keep our agency we must avoid the deadly traps and pitfalls from which there may be no escape. Some, having been ensnared, spend the best years of their life trying to escape and so exhaust themselves in the process that in the end, even though they ultimately find themselves freed from the addiction, they are spent, burned out, their nerves shot, and their brains dulled forever.
How much better off we would be and how much more complete our agency, if we were able to say with the Psalmist: “I have refrained my feet from every evil way” (
Psalm 119:101).

Second: Humility
The second key to an adequate self-esteem is humility. I do not mean the breast-beating, sackcloth-and-ashes kind of humility. I mean the humility that comes with inner strength and peace. It is the humility that allows us to accept and live with our own warts, without cosmetics to hide them. It is important to learn to live with our uncorrectable physical and mental defects without complaint or explanation. Some months ago I had a back operation, and I’ve never been the same since, and I may never be. But the first time I spoke over in the Conference Center with a little pulpit like this, one of our granddaughters said, “Oh, Grandpa, you looked so comfortable up there; I just wanted to come up and crawl on your lap.”
Some years ago I became acquainted with a delightful and wonderful new friend. He is a successful businessman—charming, outgoing, and well groomed. His spirituality shines through his countenance. A few months later I noticed a slight limp in his walk which had not been obvious before. That led to a closer observation. When I looked past the gracious smile, I noticed that my friend was slightly hunchbacked, with a somewhat misshapen spine. These physical defects were so well hidden by the natural goodness, warmth, and great charm that they were as nothing in the total man. My friend accepts his physical defects with humility and strength and completely compensates for them with his natural personality.
There is another dimension of humility that must be mentioned—that of being teachable. The prophet Samuel counsels, “Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you” (
1 Samuel 12:7). Proverbs reminds us that “whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge” (Proverbs 12:1).

Third: Honesty
The third key to self-esteem is honesty. Honesty begins with being true to one’s own self. Some years ago I sat as a spectator in a heartrending courtroom drama concerning the custody of some children. The contention was that the natural mother was not a good housekeeper, which was intended to add fuel to the claim that she was an unfit mother. A caseworker had testified that when she visited the family home, it was in a shambles and that the kitchen was dirty.
The natural mother, seeking to keep custody of her children, was called to the witness stand. A middle-aged, heavy, physically unattractive lady came forward, took the oath, and sat in the witness stand. The attorney for the father (this father had remarried and wanted custody of the children) followed up relentlessly on the testimony already provided by the caseworker. His questions to the beleaguered mother were penetrating.
“Isn’t it a fact,” he asked, “that your house was as dirty as a pigpen the day the caseworker came?” What drama! How could the mother answer in her own best interest and protect her custody of the children? What should she say? There was electricity in the air! She hesitated for a tense moment, and then she responded calmly, with complete self-assurance: “Yes, my house certainly was a mess that day.”
Her honesty obviously surprised even the judge, and he leaned over the bench and asked, “What do you mean that day?”
“Well, your honor,” she replied, “earlier that morning when the caseworker came I had been bottling peaches. I had peeled, cooked, and bottled two bushels of peaches. I had not finished cleaning up the mess when the caseworker came. My sink was still sticky from the syrup that had spilled over that I was trying to pour into the bottles before they were sealed. My house certainly was a mess that day. I try to be a good housekeeper, but with three children I can’t possibly keep it straight all the time.”
Her frankness and candor was absolutely disarming and devastating to the opposition. When she finished speaking, everyone in the courtroom knew the judge would rule in her favor. As she arose and stepped down from the witness stand, she had the bearing and the self-assurance of a queen. Being true to one’s own self is the essence of honesty and a keystone of self-esteem.

Fourth: Love of Work
The fourth key to self-esteem is the love of work. The most gifted athlete at our university excelled in every sport. He played football and ran the hurdles—in fact, he held the conference record in the low hurdles. Our coach, Ike Armstrong, required that the sprinters run once a week with the quarter-milers for 300 yards to increase the stamina of the sprinters and increase the speed of the quarter-milers. My friend—this great athlete—would lead all of the runners for about 275 yards, but as soon as the first quarter-miler passed him, he would quit and wouldn’t even finish. His natural talent and ability was such that he never had to extend himself to excel. He married, but the marriage failed. He went on into professional football and was something of a star until he got into the drug scene and died from the debilitating effects of drugs and alcohol. Others with much less talent have achieved far more.
In my experience, there are very few people who are of true genius. While there are those who are gifted, most of the world’s work and some of the greatest contributions come from ordinary people with a talent which they have developed. An ordinary, garden-variety talent can be nurtured and nourished into a great gift through hard work. Some of the artisans of China spend years making just one exquisite object of art of unbelievable grace and beauty. We do not all have a talent for the arts, such as painting, sculpture, or music. There are many gifts that are not showcased. Some may have a natural gift to make others feel important, happy, and special. Such a gift should be developed and strengthened.
Spiritual gifts, likewise, can be refined and enlarged by attentive application to righteous living, to prayer, to study of the scriptures, and to obedience. A line attributed to George Lucas suggests, “It doesn’t matter what people say about me, or what I say; what matters is what I accomplish.” What we accomplish helps our self-esteem. Sometimes we may think, “The work I do is unimportant,” or “I’m only this or that.” Every job that has to be done is important, no matter how minimal it seems; someone has to do it.

Fifth: Ability to Love
The fifth key to building self-esteem is the ability to love. The commandment given by the Savior was to love others and yourself.
3 Am I secure enough in my love of myself to laugh at myself, to admit mistakes, to graciously accept a compliment? Am I secure in my love of others to smile and say hello to a perfect stranger?
Years ago in seminary, our class was taught:
I have to live with myself, and so
I want to be fit for myself to know;
I want to go out with my head erect,
I want to deserve all men’s respect;
I never can hide myself from me,
I see what others may never see,
I never can fool myself—and so,
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self-respecting and conscience free.

Sixth: Love of God
The sixth and most essential key to self-esteem is the love of God. King Benjamin reminds us, “How knoweth a man the master whom he has not served . . . ?” (
Mosiah 5:13). In Paul’s epistle to Titus he reminds us that there are many who “profess that they know God; but in works they deny him” (Titus 1:16).
The Apostle John gives us a valuable key: “And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (
1 John 3:24).
John makes an important point about obedience when he states: “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
“He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (
1 John 2:3–4).

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year Re-Solutions

Going through old projects is a good way to see where you've been , the strides you've made (hopefully), and to humble yourself. Isn't it amazing how great your minds eye sees you in the past. Nothing can bring that fuzzy recollection into view than seeing the fruits of your labors. Some of mine look pretty bad and, luckily, some look better than I remember. Those drawings from '03 when I was just trying to get my feet wet... woaw! Boy do I have an amazingly supportive husband. He could have looked at my work and said, now why did I hire you????? But instead, he could see potential and just kept on supporting me in whatever I tried. I found out later that he won't ever criticize but he also won't tell me he likes something that he doesn't. He is just pretty tactful cause I just felt support from him in what ever he said.

The New Year is as good a time as any to review the past and set your sights high for the future. While I'm riding on the wave of energy from the newly past holiday season it is a good time to find new projects and try out new ideas. One thing I've noticed from my past projects is that I definitely need a plan before I start a project. I don't necessarily want a pattern from someone else but I do want an idea and a sketch before I start so that what is in my mind can find it's way safely to becoming something I might want to share, not just something else to learn from, though that isn't half bad either.

Here's to a great year of learning and creating!!