"My wife and I abandoned ourselves …" (Alcoholics Anonymous, 15:1)
I think I have lots of problems. I really have only one, although it has different aspects.
My problem is conscious separation. The solution is conscious contact.
Whilst I think I exist as a separate entity apart from God, I am doomed.
I have a plan for my own salvation that is other than God's. This plan does not work, which induces a sense of gross failure. And who I really am—the essence of me that is part of God—becomes the enemy to 'my will'. And I am split in two.
My problem is always that I believe in my own plan and believe it can oppose God's will.
I do not know a way of thinking about me in such a way that I transcend thinking about me. Understanding 'me' to transcend 'me' is like studying the physiology of a ghost which I have seen but which does not really exist.
The 'me' which is causing all the problems (the hurt feelings, the sensitivities, the fear, the whatever) is a story I have made up. It's an entire fabrication.
To have low self-esteem is a function of having a self. Any form of 'therapy' which aims to produce 'positive' self-esteem is really a cop-out.
'Positive self-esteem' is always at the expense of someone else. If I have positive self-esteem for X, Y, or Z (even 'I'm a good person'), what do you do with 'bad' people? They are worthless, under that system. And that worthlessness will hit me straight back in the face, because I will always suspect I am like them. If everyone is 'good', what value is there in goodness? What happens if I cannot live up to the X, Y, or Z? It is not effective to have esteem based on some subjective factor where you have to shift the goalposts every time you trip over: 'I'm worthy because I am a good person; but when I do not act well, I am still good, because I am only human'. Where does that leave the first statement? Trying to fool around with self-esteem is like trying to build a candyfloss castle in the rain. Developing positive self-esteem is like trying to turn the ghost that is not there from a devilish to a benign ghost. It is still not there.
You can try to believe in benign ghosts all you like. It does not make them real. It does not address the underlying problem of there being no 'self' to have esteem.
Does one leaf on a tree have independent value? Where does the value in a person lie? Cut off the arms, is it still there? Remove the body, is it still there? Where is it, this self that is to be esteemed?
The aim of the programme is to be dissolved into the world so you forget you exist and simply become a part of rather than apart from. The aim of the Steps is effectively to blow apart the ego and to reveal it for the bloated nothingness that it is.