Self-Esteem, Self-Compassion and Self-Love

Should you love yourself?

Is self-esteem good? Should you love yourself? What about self-love? There currently exists much confusion on these questions. Moreover, each of these terms require careful unraveling. Let’s begin with self-esteem.

Self-Esteem = BAD

Self-esteem is generally understood as involving a subjective decision to evaluate oneself (including one’s abilities, accomplishments and circumstances) in a positive way. The goal of self-esteem is not to help a person become better, but merely to feel better. Accordingly, self-esteem is disconnected from questions of virtue (i.e., “is the decision to think of myself in this way moving me closer towards ethical goals?”) as well as disconnected from questions of truth (“is the decision to think of myself in this way in line with the objective reality about myself?”). Through its dislocation from virtue, self-esteem can easily collapse into narcissism, while its dislocation from truth can cause self-esteem to collapse into delusion.

In the mid 80’s, the State of California poured thousands of dollars into an initiative designed to raise children’s self-esteem. Based on the secular humanist wisdom at the time, lawmakers fully expected that an increase in self-esteem would cause a boost grades and a reduction in bullying, crime, teen pregnancy and substance abuse. In reality, the initiative was a complete disaster.

Further empirical research has continued to confirm that self-esteem has many negative effects, including narcissism, self-absorption, contingent self-worth, self-righteousness, aggression in response to threatened egotism, and self-validating assessments of one’s abilities that undermine the process of further improvement. Self-esteem can also lead to a fragile sense of self-worth, since one’s self-worth becomes dependent on self-concepts that may be threatened through failure, lack of external validation or genuine self-knowledge.

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Being Mindful With Emotional Discomfort

In my recent series of articles on the sacramental imagination I have been exploring how it’s possible to recognize God’s presence in all of life. I have been urging my readers to begin seeing all of life—from when we get out of bed in the morning to when we brush our teeth at night—as occasions for communion with God. I have suggested that we can begin to great all our experiences—from a baby’s laugh to a splash of rain on our cheek—as occasions of wonder and grace. It is possible to learn to hear God’s voice, not just in times of prayer, but in a stranger reaching out to us in need, or even in our own heartbeat and silent breathing. Even by simply being physical we can participate in the life of God, for as David Fagerberg beautifully puts it, “the Incarnation was a sanctification of our bodies as well as our souls, and the supernatural settles, as a dewfall, upon every natural thing.”

If you are new to this blog and haven’t been keeping up on this series, here are links to the main articles in this series on the sacramental imagination.

In the present article, I want to take things in a new direction and apply some of these principles to the issue of pain and emotional discomfort. I will be suggesting that the invitation to be fully present in whatever we are experiencing (a point I developed in ‘Eating and Breathing Sacramentally‘) is something we can apply to times of pain no less than experiences of joy.

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A Scientific Perspective on “Embracing Your Emotional State”

For most of its history, clinical psychology has been preoccupied with neurosis, psychosis and everything that can go wrong. In the twentieth-century, however, many psychologists began to shift their emphasis and take an interest in studying health and normality. A central question they began asking is, “what do things look like when everything is working properly and can that be learned and replicated?” This has led to extensive research into the brains and behaviors of people who report high levels of happiness and well-being.

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Listen to Your Feelings – they might have something important to tell you

One of my favorite movies is the 2002 science fiction film Equilibrium. Written and directed by Kurt Wimme, the film is set in a future society called Libria. In Libria it is against the law to feel.

The main character of the film named John Preston (played by Christian Bale) is a law enforcement officer. He is tasked with destroying objects that could incite emotion, including art, poetry and classical music. He is also required to kill rebels, known as “Sense Offenders”, who choose to experience illegal emotions.

The citizens of Libria have been brainwashed into believing that feelings are the cause of war, suffering and conflict. Accordingly, most of the citizens in Libria willingly participate in their own enslavement by taking a daily injection of a drug, known as Prozium II, which suppresses all emotion.

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Self-Esteem, Self-Compassion, Self-Love and Self-Care: Towards a Biblical Appraisal

Self-esteem, self-compassion, self-love, self-care. These are all hot topics in modern culture. As Christians it is sometimes easy to dismiss all these concepts as stemming from our systemic “focus on self” instead of thinking carefully about what these concepts actually mean and how they relate to Biblical teaching.

Before jumping into this topic, it should be noted that the fact that a concept has to do with the self does not automatically make it suspect. As we grow from spiritual sickness to spiritual wholeness, sometimes we need to focus on the self, just as a person who has a weight problem sometimes needs to focus on his weight, or a person with a broken leg needs to focus on his leg.

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The Virtue of Vulnerability in an Age of Sentimentalism, Stoicism and Cynicism

This post was originally published back in April, but I am reposting it after adding some more information on Stoicism and adding footnotes to the source material used in my research.

Ryan and Claire came from very different backgrounds. When Claire was growing up, she lived in constant fear of making her father angry. To the outside world, Claire and her six siblings appeared the very model of well-behaved children. In fact, once they were even featured on the cover a homeschool magazine. However, few people knew what life was really like for them—how their father would fly off the handle at the slightest provocation and how all the children lived in fear of making him upset. Claire developed a habit of keeping her deepest thoughts and feelings bottled up inside, sometimes even hidden from herself. As an adult, Claire was terrified of conflict and tended always to say what she thought the other person wanted to hear instead of expression what she really felt.

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Wellness Resources and Coaching

For a number of years I’ve had the privilege of working with Young Living as a wellness coach, helping numerous individuals achieve mental, physical and emotional wellness. (For some of the other things I do, see here).

Through my work I have come to believe that one of the reasons many of us are failing to live up to our full potential is that we haven’t given attention to the total person. Maybe we are focused exclusively on physical fitness, or emotional health, or nutrition or brain fitness. In my coaching, however, I follow a holistic approach that takes seriously the human person as an integrated whole. Thus, I help people with a wide variety of issues, ranging from getting a good night’s sleep to overcoming procrastination

Below are some of the resources I use in my wellness coaching. Feel free to browse! If you have any questions or would like to purchase a coaching session on any of these topics, send me an email or reach me in the chat box in the lower left-hand corner of this page.

Young Living Starter Kit. Aromatherapy plays a key role in many of the wellness protocols I use. The best way to get the highest quality essential oils is to sign up as a wholesale customer with Young Living and then purchase their Premium Starter Kit. Once you join Young Living as a wholesale member, you get 24% off the retail price on all their products. Being a member of Young Living comes with no obligation to buy every month or to introduce others to the opportunity. Moreover, the Premium Starter Kit will get you $320.00 worth of products (including a diffuser) for only $160.00. You can learn more about the contents of this kit by clicking here. Moreover, if you join with a Premium Starter Kit and put in my Young Living number as the one who referred you (#1297759), then I will personally send you a small gift and offer free support as you begin learning about these products. It gets even better: joining Young Living with the Premium Starter as part of my team will automatically qualify you one free coaching session on any of the following topics: (1) overcoming insomnia, (2) eliminating procrastination, (3) increasing your memory and learning potential.

Life Coaching for Students. Many students find themselves unable to accomplish their goals because of problems with time-management, procrastination, memory and learning difficulties, and other difficulties. Through my life coaching services, I offer science-based counseling to help students overcome these problems and reach their goals. All coaching sessions last an hour and cost $75. During the first 20 minutes, I listen to the student explain about his or her issues. During the next 20 minutes, I chat with the student about the neuroscience behind a particular problem (i.e. procrastination). During the final 20 minutes, I work with the student to help him or her apply the scientific research to their own life and put together a personalized treatment plan. Coaching sessions occur through Skype and are billed via PayPal or Venmo. To learn more about coaching, or to purchase a session, contact me in the chat box in the lower right-hand corner.

Essential Oils and Sleep. Insomnia is an ever-increasing problem. In this booklet, I have addressed the common causes of insomnia and how you can use Young Living’s products to get a good night’s sleep. Click on the following link for a free download: Using Young Living Products to Get a Good Night’s Sleep (pdf)

Develop a Youthful Brain Through the Power of Ningxia. In this booklet I share ways that you can keep your brain youthful, using a combination of neuroplasticity and nutrition. In the process, you will learn about the secrets of the Ningxia Wolfberry and why people in Northern China remain healthy into their hundreds. Click on the following link for a free download: Develop a Youthful Brain Through the Power of Ningxia (pdf)

Overcome Anxiety. Anxiety is now the most common disorder in our society. But science-based techniques used by the Special Forces offer hope for those crippled by anxiety. This article combines these techniques with the teachings of the Bible to offer practical steps for overcoming anxiety. Use Positive Self-Talk to Overcome Anxiety (pdf)

Using Young Living Essential Oils in the Kitchen. If you like essential oils, you may be surprised to learn that there are yummy ways to incorporate them into cooking. In this booklet I share some of my own great-tasting and great-smelling recipes using Young Living Essential Oils. Robin’s Essential Oil Recipes (pdf)

Brain Fitness Interview. In 2016, Dr. Graham Taylor interviewed me about brain fitness. During our conversation I suggested that the notion of “being smart” often invokes a one-sided paradigm of mental ability that may not be consistent with overall cognitive health. I explained why a proper understanding of brain fitness should also include such things as imagination, intellectual curiosity, mental focus, the ability to think outside the box, emotional intelligence, and many other aspects of a healthy brain that are often overlooked in our culture. Read our entire conversation at the following link: “Graham Taylor’s Conversation With Robin Phillips about Brain Fitness.

Time Management Tips. Do you find yourself overwhelmed with too many projects? Do you find yourself with a to-do list that never seems to get any shorter? In this video you will learn the secrets of harnessing the power of aromatherapy and effectively managing your time so you can accomplish everything you need to do. Watch video at YouTube.

Overcoming Procrastination Video. If you find yourself unable to accomplish your goals because of continual procrastination, then the tips in this video may transform your life. In this video, I discuss the latest findings from neuroscience on why we procrastinate and what you can do about it. Watch Video on Overcoming Procrastination

Essential Oils and Brain Fitness. Many people are not aware of the incredible power found in essential oils for achieving mental and emotional wellness. To address this need, I have published an ongoing series of articles pm how to combine aromatherapy and neuroplasticity to create a better brain. To read these articles, visit ‘Series on Essential Oils and Brain Fitness.’ I have also created a Facebook group as a forum for personal sharing and education on using essential oils for brain fitness. You can visit our group by clicking on the image below.

Positive Self-Talk and Anxiety

On a blustery Sunday afternoon in December 2017, I headed to Seattle with my two teenage sons, Matthew (age 19) and Timothy (age 15). Our mission was simple: hand Matthew off to the Air Force at Seattle.

We left on our journey shortly after Matthew said goodbye to everyone at church. When we arrived in Seattle later that evening, Timothy and I planned to drop Matthew off at the Air Force processing station and then go to stay overnight with my brother, Gregory. The next morning, Timothy and I would watch Matthew take his final oath before he flew out with the Air Force to San Antonio for Basic Training.

As I drove the long stretch of highway from Coeur d’Alene Idaho to Seattle Washington, I reflected on the events leading up to this journey.

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How to Find Your Place in the Good Life

Jason and Kaitlyn would never have said their marriage was unhappy. However, throughout the fourteen years they had been together, they gradually drifted apart. They rarely had arguments and to outsiders they looked like the perfect couple. However, as the years went by, they seemed to have less and less in common.

Without giving it much thought, Jason instinctively assumed that the reason he had grown distant from Kaitlyn was because she had changed. It wasn’t simply that Kaitlyn’s had lost her youthful beauty, although it did bother Jason that he was no longer physically attracted to his wife. It was also that she was no longer as fun to be around. She used to be the type of person you wanted to share everything with, but over the years she seemed to have become different. It was hard to put his finger on it.

Kaitlyn tried not to think too much about the growing distance between Jason and herself. A few years ago she had begun to suspect that Jason was using his computer at work to access pornography, but she quickly dismissed the idea from her head. The sense of distance between them was probably just because they were so busy with their kids that they rarely had time to do things together anymore. Whenever they did have a free evening, it seemed Jason preferred to spend it watching sports with his friends from the software firm where he worked. During football season, Jason didn’t even come to church with her and the kids. Kaitlyn reflected that maybe if she and Jason could go on a vacation together, just the two of them, they might be able to rekindle what they had lost.

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