Self-esteem Is a Religious Problem

Recently, I wrote about how we have a choice in life, to live neurotically or to live out of grace. Our value and worth is either something we have to perform, achieve, or work for, or it is given to us as a gift.

Brené Brown points out that the people who risk vulnerability in seeking connection are those who feel that they are worthy of love and belonging. Those who don't feel worthy of love and belonging experience shame, which leads to disconnection.

That's great to know--feeling worthy of love and belonging gives you the courage to risk vulnerability--but it raises the question: Where does this sense of being worthy of love and belonging come from?

It's a chicken and egg problem. There's a negative feedback loop in play here that seems impossible to escape. I experience shame and disconnection because I don't feel worthy of love and belonging. And I don't feel worthy of love and belonging because I experience shame and disconnection.

How are we to escape this neurotic pattern?

The only way to break out of the neurotic feedback loop is that worthiness has to come to us metaphysically and religiously, from the "outside." Worthiness isn't something you work for and earn, it is something you receive as a gift. This is the eccentric identity I describe in The Slavery of Death

In short, shame is a metaphysical issue.

The problem of self-esteem can only be resolved religiously.

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