"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
March 21, 2013
Low Self-Esteem or Good Critical Thinking
by Hannah Bird

Once when talking to a friend, I made some fact-based and easily corroborated statements about weaknesses of mine. She gasped with all the horror of one who has just witnessed the kicking of something fluffy and said, “You have low self-esteem.” She proceeded to point out how very terrible my self-esteem was and how horrible it was of me to have such poor self-esteem. She insisted that I fix it immediately lest I ruin my whole life because self-esteem is essential.

After I got done laughing at being berated for not feeling better about myself, I thought about what she had said. All the parenting books said my kids needed high self-esteem. There were books and magazines about how I could fix my horribly unacceptable level of self-esteem. Oprah made billions talking about it.

So why didn’t I care? Because somewhere along the line I learned some basic critical thinking skills. And one of the things that we assess when we are hearing a judgement is who is making the judgement and with what information. So in the interest of full disclosure, here are some things that I thought were perfectly reasonable at the time:

Getting a perm

Dying my frizzy perm the color of old carrots

Dating a boy who listened to Milli Vanilli

Crying over a boy who listened to Milli Vanilli

Being rude to my mother

Spending my entire senior year drunk or hung over

Moving to Rexburg, Idaho without a good coat

Buying white linoleum

Buying cows

Buying a 9 bedroom house

Teaching my children good critical thinking skills

Teaching my children that their opinions mattered

Teaching my children to talk

Taking my daughter to a midnight Harry Potter book release

Voting for a man who I later would not have shaken hands with without hazmat gloves

and a bottle of bleach



Carrying a giant poster into church that spelled out S-E-X in glitter letters when it was my turn to teach on the topic of intimacy

Wearing a long sweater and stretch pants

Choosing an off-white sofa

Getting the world’s most neurotic dog

Not calling my wonderful grandmother just because she was deaf and it was hard to talk to her

Believing that our new neighbors really did want to get to know us and it totally wasn’t

Amway like they said

Let’s be serious. Would you let someone with that track record decide how valuable or important you are? Me neither. But your list won’t be any better. I have a perfectly beautiful cousin who thought she was chubby and dowdy. My friend who is brilliantly practical thinks she is not smart. My brother who can write beautifully on any subject thinks he rambles on. The best mother I know cries because she believes she was a terrible mother. Clearly the error is in those making the assessments.

And science is starting to catch up. Killers and convicts, as it turns out, feel fantastic about themselves. Just fantastic. Kids that feel great about themselves but aren’t very competent fail at life. We have raised an entire generation that have unwarranted sky high self-esteem without much return on investment. But nobody is happier.

So what is the alternative? How about faith, gratitude, and curiosity. What if we just believed we had divine worth? What if we just trusted that? How much better would life be if we quit having good hair days and started being grateful to be here? What could you learn, become or do if you were driven by curiosity and wonder rather than self-loathing? We can be flawed and wonderful. We can have personality traits that we are still working on. We don’t have to be good enough, smart enough and doggone it have people like us. We can just be faithful cheerful and curious. Doesn’t that sound more like someone you want to hang out with? Me, too.

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About Hannah Bird

I am me. I live at my house with my husband and kids. Mostly because I have found that people get really touchy if you try to live at their house. Even after you explain that their towels are fluffier and none of the cheddar in their fridge is green.

I teach Relief Society and most of the sisters in the ward are still nice enough to come.

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