Pride vs. Self-Esteem

>> Thursday, June 28, 2012

Assalamu'alaikum, sis how can i build my self-esteem? There is something related with my childhood and my parents. They are not so happy couple. Alhamdulillah everything is okay now. I was so shy and introverted person. I've started practice Islam alhamdulillah. Sometimes, though i can not make difference in self-esteem and pride. Please help me in this. -sometimes hopeless sis

Asalamu aliakaum, Sometimes Hopeless Sister,

Sis, you've brought up some great questions. What is the difference between pride and self-esteem? How does one increase one's self-esteem? 

So, let's start. Let's open our Qurans. Ready? 

"I am better than him. You created me from fire
  but You created him from clay."(Surah Sad: 76)

Who said that? 

Yup, you are right. That was Shaytaan who said that.

And that, my friend, is the clearest example of negative pride. Pride, as we can see then, is to imagine that you are better than others. It's when you look at others and think, "Cough. You pathetic loser. You are so beneath me. You can only dream of being someone as great and worthy as wonderful ME". While that sounds funny, the truth is pride is basically an inherent belief  that you are above others and that others are less than you. This was the mistake that Shaytaan made in that verse. He looked at himself and couldn't fathom why Allah would command him to bow down to Adam. 

The Quran also shows us another example of negative pride in the form of "Qarun" in the Quran. Just who was Qarun?

Indeed, Qarun was from the people of Moses, but he tyrannized them. And We gave him of treasures whose keys would burden a band of strong men; thereupon his people said to him, "Do not exult. Indeed, Allah does not like the exultant. (76) But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters." (77He said, "I was only given it because of knowledge I have." Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him of generations those who were greater than him in power and greater in accumulation [of wealth]? .....{78} Al Qassas

You see how Qarun attributed the blessings he had been given to himself? How he felt that he was the one who earned them and brought them for himself? How vain he was?

On the other hand, the Quran shows us a clear example of healthy self esteem.

And the king said, "Bring him to me; I will appoint him exclusively for myself." And when he spoke to him, he said, "Indeed, you are today established [in position] and trusted." (54) [Yusuf] said, "Appoint me over the storehouses of the land. Indeed, I will be a knowing guardian." (55) [Surat Yusuf]

Yusuf goes on later to say: My Lord, You have given me [something] of sovereignty and taught me of the interpretation of dreams. Creator of the heavens and earth, You are my protector in this world and in the Hereafter. Cause me to die a Muslim and join me with the righteous." (101)

As we can see from these two verses, Yusuf alyhee wa salam asked the King to give him the position basically of Treasury of State. Although that's a high position, Yusuf didn't ask for it because he wanted to show off. He asked for the position because he knew he had been blessed by Allah with certain capabilities and he wanted to use those abilities as best as he could. "He wanted to dispense the harvest in the wisest, best and most beneficial way []". The second verse clearly displays that Yusuf recognized that what he had came from Allah and that it was Allah who had blessed him with certain talents. That's where he was very different from Qarun.

Look also how he asks Allah to let him join with the righteous. A person with good self esteem doesn't feel good about himself by putting others down. Yusuf alyhee as salam didn't look at others and think that he was better than them. He didn't say, "I'm the prophet. You people are beneath me." He asked to be of the good people. A person with good self-esteem knows that he is a special person, yet he/she is still humble. 

Okay, so where are we going with this?

Healthy self esteem is when you realize that you were created by Allah perfectly and that He fashioned you. You realize that you are someone valuable and worthy, just like all of your fellow human beings. You don't put yourself down and you don't put others down, either.

 Good self esteem is when you can recognize the gifts and opportunities Allah gave you and be grateful for them and ask Allah to keep blessing you.

Pride, on the other hand, is when you look down on others and think that you are the best. It's when you're praying and thinking 'You losers, you. I'm the best. Look at how amazing I pray. I am so going to jannah. Wish there were more people like me."  

So how can we nurture good self esteem? 

Hun, every one of us has some it the way you sing (nasheeds :P), how quick you are with numbers, how well you put colors together, how well you are at cooking/poetry/ painting....even your beautiful smile :) Every one of us has something special about us. 

In an earlier post, we gave some of the following ideas:

*  Write a list of things that you like about yourself. Don’t be embarrassed. It’s important that you recognize your good values, whether it’s how patient you are or how you help your little brother with his homework. You should be able to think up of at least 10 things that you like about yourself. Whenever you’re feeling a little down, just take out your list and remind yourself of how special you are. You can even talk to yourself in the mirror. 

* Don't listen to rude and insulting words. If five people call you ugly, then you tell yourself five times that you are beautiful. Don't let others tell you what to think about yourself!

* Part of feeling good about yourself comes from accomplishing things. Now, don’t get me wrong- these don’t have to be big things, even getting small things done can make you feel a lot better. So the next step is to try to write a few goals. 

Remember, we can all work on some things. What is it about you that you wish you could improve? Maybe you get angry really quickly? Or you say what’s on your mind without thinking? You know yourself best. Write down a few goals on a sheet of paper. I recommend writing it as if you’ve already accomplished it. For example,“I now clean my room without being told”. If you read your goals each day, you should feel motivated to really work on it.

Here are some other interesting ideas and tips:

Sisters, share your tips, too :)

4 wonderful sprinkely thoughts:

Anonymous,  June 29, 2012 at 6:59 AM  

Great post mashaAllah! Such timely reminders.

One thing I do sometimes is to remember that Allah chose me to be from among the Muslims. He subhanahu wa ta'aala has given me potential. And it won't do for me to get stuck with the blues and not appreciate and work on what He has blessed me with.

Anonymous,  June 30, 2012 at 1:06 AM  

Masha'Allah, lovely response!

I found that my self-esteem was lowered because of things i'd done in the past, what I never realised was, that I can change everything around. Sometimes having a guilty conscious can prevent you from having good self esteem, so any things you need to sort out that's been on your mind lately. Don't wait for tomorrow, sort it NOW, make the changes, get rid of that guilty conscious and be happy and grateful for who YOU are.

Yeah I know it's difficult, but Insh'Allah you'll be able to do it sister. I'm so glad for this post, since it's something I've also been trying to do too- distinguish between pride + self-esteem and ways to boost S.E.

Jazak'Allah Khair Little Auntie for the lovely post!


Aziza July 1, 2012 at 1:11 PM  

Great advice as always MashaAllah! :)
It helps to remember that Allah created everyone and everything and ultimately He is the judge and the only one who knows the secrets of the hearts. Just remember that He created you for a reason and gave you the ways and means to achieve that purpose. Be motivated by the fact that He saw something special in you and chose you, out of so many others, to be a Muslim. Remember the main reason of your worship Him as best as you can. And just look at yourself in the mirror and remind yourself that you are beautiful just the way the The All Knowing and All Wise fashioned you, no matter what anyone says! <3

Anonymous,  July 2, 2012 at 8:37 AM  

Assalamu'alaikum, Please check them out:

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Asalamu aialkum!
Well, what do you think? You know, you're part of the team, as well. Please help a sister out and share your own advice/experiences/etc. One for all and all for one =)
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