What to tell yourself when you really don’t like yourself

Do you sometimes struggle with self-esteem? Are there days you feel worthless and pretty sure everyone else thinks you’re worthless too? Are you at times broken, needy, and stuck way down in the dumps?

You’re not alone.

Millions of people today are flattened by depression just like some of the famous writers of the Bible were. (Just read King David’s Psalm 6 or Jeremiah’s book of Lamentations.) Throughout history, people have wrestled with the downs that come along with the ups of life. But especially difficult are the days when we look in the mirror and say, “I just don’t like myself.”

Our self-talk is pretty crucial on days like that. The Bible gives us tons of guidance in that regard. Here’s a suggestion of things to tell yourself on those days you really don’t like yourself (along with Bible verses that give that particular guidance):

This is how I feel about myself: I’m broken. I’ve got problems. And I don’t like that about myself. I wish I could just fix myself, but I can’t. I’m not the person I wish I was. I need help.
This is how God feels about me: God’s crazy about me. He won’t ever give up on me. He’s never sick of me. He sits here with me when I’m sulking and sad. He comes alongside when I’m lonely and feel abandoned. He embraces me with his love—a love that will never let me go. He knows my pain, and he longs to heal me. (Ephesians 2:4,5; 3:14-19; Psalm 100:5; 34:17,18; John 14:18; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Lamentations 3:32,33; Romans 8:38,39; Luke 7:13)

This is what I think I’m worth: Nothing. Okay, maybe I’m worth a little. But I don’t matter very much. I don’t mean anything. Why would anyone make a fuss over me?
This is what God says I’m worth: God chose me to be one of his own people. God was willing to move heaven and earth for me. God gave up his own Son for me. God became a human—like me, for me. God fought the evil devil and beat him for me. God lived perfectly as a man on earth for me. God died for me. God saved me. God baptized me. God governs the whole universe for my good because he’s watching out for me. God says I’m worth the precious blood of his own Son. (Ephesians 1:3-10; John 3:16-18; 1:14; Matthew 4:1-10; Hebrews 7:26,27; Romans 5:6; Titus 3:4,5; Romans 8:28-30; 1 Peter 1:18,19)

This is what I call myself: Loser. Failure. Disappointment. Unworthy. So very not-good-enough. Deserving only disapproval.
This is what God calls me: God says I’m awesome. God calls me a royal prince (or princess). He says I’m his child. God says I’m holy. God calls me Jesus’ sibling, redeemed by his death and resurrection. He says I’m righteous, pure, spotless, mighty, powerful, radiant, dearly loved, perfect, not guilty, made new, and his special possession. God says I’m worthy of heaven, covered in Jesus’ amazing perfection! (1 Peter 2:9,10; Colossians 3:12; Galatians 3:26,27; Hebrews 2:11; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Isaiah 40:28-31; Hebrews 4:16)

There are two ways we can look at ourselves—positively and negatively. Both are true. But God gets the final say, and don’t ever, ever forget his final word about you. It’s all grace—grace, grace, and even more grace. On those days when you really don’t like yourself, make your self-talk more like God-talk. Because of Jesus, he thinks you’re wonderful.

Even when you don’t.


Kurt Wetzel is a pastor in the Gem State of Idaho. He serves Cross of Christ Lutheran Church, a multi-site congregation. He and his wife, Stephanie, have three children and another due in June.


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