I've been thinking lately about how much my self-confidence was undermined by what I was taught as a child in the church where I grew up. Even long after I had abandoned the belief system on a conscious level as an adult, I still felt the emotional effects of having my sense of self eroded and my self-belief undermined. There are some positive aspects of Christian teaching, but these didn't sink in for me as deeply as the negatives. Even if you still believe in the basis of Christianity, I suggest you start questioning some of these Christian teachings which can undermine your self-confidence:

Blessed Are The Meek

Image courtesy sxc.hu

Yeah right. Try telling that to Genghis Khan. Now I'm not suggesting that you should go and invade half of China, but if ever there was a teaching designed to simply appease the masses, this is it. It would be more accurate to say “Blessed is the man who believes in himself and valiantly goes after what he wants in life without attachment to getting it”.

You Were Born Into Sin

The basic notion that we are born into original sin is flawed. The truth is that you were born exactly as nature intended. At that point, you were fully self-expressed. Then people started telling you to sit down, shut up, and do as you were told; while also teaching you strategies for getting your needs met. Unfortunately many of these people had ineffective strategies which didn't work very well for them but they passed them onto you anyway, leading you to conclude that there was something wrong with you; which matched nicely with the idea you were taught about being a sinner from birth. Bullshit.

You Need A Saviour

This is another trap. You don't actually need a saviour. Life rewards the man who realises that he is his own saviour. Take responsibility for yourself, and stop expecting someone (especially your mother, father or God) to come and rescue you from whatever you're struggling with. Grow up and become your own hero.

God As An External Entity

The God described by Christianity is a human invention; a projection of our own traits onto an external idea borne out of our deep feelings of insecurity and the need to have someone powerful watch over us. When Christians talk about having a relationship with God, they don't realise that what they're really relating to is a combination of their own inner dialogue, their emotions, and their intuition. If you must have a concept of God or divinity, it's more accurate to say that the traits assigned to him live inside of each one of us and we are all divine.

Forgiveness Comes From God

Forgiving ourselves is challenging at time; especially when we haven't been taught how to do it, or have been taught to use a proxy such as God or a priest. It's much more powerful to apologise to the person you have hurt and allow the feelings to pass through you; this is healing for them too. In lieu of that, we can still forgive ourselves if that other person isn't willing or available.

Don't get me started on the after-effects of the truck-load of guilt levelled on Catholics. I was raised attending a conservative evangelical protestant Christian church, and that was bad enough.

Turn The Other Cheek

Try this in the playground of an all-boys high school. It was a recipe for becoming a bullying target for me. While the idea of not escalating a conflict is a good one, the notion of turning the other cheek in every circumstance is an invitation for other people to walk all over you. Instead, I'd recommend standing up for yourself verbally, showing empathy in escalating conflicts, and walking away from bullies. Learn boxing or martial arts so everyone (especially you) knows you can defend yourself physically, and you won't have to.

Don't Speak The Truth

One of the most insidious aspects of religious teaching is when it suppresses our natural intuition about the parts of that teaching that are clearly bullshit. People have been making up ideas and passing them on as religious truth since time immemorial. We fall for it partly out of peer pressure and partly because we want it to be true. But part of us in our hearts knows it's not true. We're taught to suppress our intuition because speaking the truth leads to excommunication from a community that is important to us. Ironically, the same bible which teaches us to worship a not-existent God also teaches the truth that “the truth shall set you free”. You just have to find it for yourself.

Graham Stoney

Graham Stoney

I struggled for years with low self-esteem, anxiety and a lack of self-confidence before finding a solution that really worked. I created The Confident Man Program to help other men live the life of their dreams. I also offer 1-on-1 coaching via Skype so if you related to this article contact me about coaching.


Kevin · January 9, 2013 at 6:36 am

Great article! How true very true, the damaging effects of religious teachings on children. I have a had a similar up bringing and it is so difficult to get all those backward thinking ideas and principles that are apart of christianity. It seems almost criminal to indoctrinate young children into such an antiquated and flawed set of beliefs - and that applies to pretty much every monotheistic religion (Islam, Judaism, etc) I know of.

    Graham Stoney

    Graham Stoney · January 9, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Yes; it's not a problem unique to Christianity I'm afraid. Thanks for your comment!

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