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“What is the problem with a reliance on self-discipline (Colossians 2:23)? Whatever is self-imposed does not derive from God. Rather, it arises from pride, with no intention to “put to death your members which are on earth” (vs. 5). “Self-imposed religion” encourages self-esteem and obstructs the Holy Spirit, who alone can lead us to true humility. Despite its similarity to life-giving Christian asceticism, the self-reliant approach is utterly contrary to apostolic teaching. Let us, who have died with Christ and been raised with Him, seek life from Him alone.” (Dynamis 11/16/2021)

“Evil comes in many disguises. One of these is to hide one’s motives under the cloak of pretext. This tactic of wickedness misleads others into believing that the reasons for one’s actions are good and genuine…The righteousness of human action is often a matter of motives. We can do the right things for the wrong reasons. And we can do evil things for what would be considered good reasons….“Many human activities, good in themselves, are not good because of the motive for which they are done.” For example, fasting and vigils, prayer and psalmody, acts of charity and hospitality are by nature good, but when performed for the sake of self-esteem, they are not good. The same is true of other actions that may seem good and noble in the eyes of those who do them. The Lord said, “They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (John 16:2).” (Fr. Basil, St. Maximos the Confessor)

“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…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 by failure, lack of external validation, or genuine self-knowledge.” (Robin Phillips)

“The vices are linked one to another: hatred to anger, anger to pride, pride to self-esteem, self-esteem to unbelief, unbelief to hard heartedness, hardheartedness to negligence, negligence to sluggishness, sluggishness to apathy, apathy to listlessness, listlessness to lack of endurance, lack of endurance to self-indulgence, and so on with all the other vices…Ultimately, self-esteem is the “child of unbelief,” by which we credit ourselves rather than God. It is the colleague of pride…” (St. Makarios of Egypt, OCPM 3/31/2019)

“Human behavior experts have recently begun making a helpful distinction between self-esteem and self-compassion….Self-¬compassion is about being forgiving, patient, and kind to yourself, as well as treating negative feelings with mindfulness instead of harsh self-criticism. Unlike self-esteem, the goal of self-compassion is not simply to feel better, but actually to become more virtuous, since self-compassion provides incentive for personal growth, repentance, and compassion toward others.” (Robin Phillips)

“The problem with self-esteem - whether it is high or low - is that every single day we put ourselves on trial.” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

"High self-esteem is often thought to lead to high performance and success. Don’t focus on your human weaknesses, I am told; focus on your “awesomeness.” But such a focus actually leads to fear; to a quiet terror of making mistakes, as I defensively assert my “awesomeness” to protect it." (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“Among the contributors to self-worship is a form of idolatry associated with self-esteem. It is easy to fall into, since our society has placed a great deal of emphasis on the need for self-esteem. The modern religion of psychoanalysis has promoted self-esteem as though it were the modern equivalent of enlightenment. The priests of this modern, humanistic religion have made millions selling self-esteem, resulting in a society given over almost entirely to image.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“Self-esteem displaces the role of humility—so valued a hallmark for a well-adjusted, good person—and pride enters the heart. This demon of pride can be driven away only by intense prayer and by not doing or saying anything that contributes to a sense of self-importance.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“No amount of self-esteem education will free us from our deepest fears. Only the esteem that flows from Love Himself will ever set us truly free to be who we really are. That is where our best and most purposeful work needs to be and where we will discover our true uniqueness.” (Father Barnabas Powell)

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