The purpose of said book is to teach how to overcome weaknesses and progress in the great work without letting them set you back. Now I haven't finished the book but I believe a book of such magnitude (or any theological book in general) needs to be studied out in a long stretch of time. It wouldn't be right for me to read the scriptures all in a few days, taking away from the precious spiritual moments gained through months of deep study. To be honest it can be irritating and pull on my impatience but it's worth it.
That being said, I may bring this book and the few others I'm reading up more (assuming I get around to posting) as time goes by. This post will not summarize what is to be learned in this book. Indeed it specifies one small part in the first chapter. Yes, the first chapter. But you can find such gems in all literature. This just has the extra bonus of scripture to go with it.
These are the half of the fourteen steps he recommends in fighting weakness, particularly one's self conscious struggles with their weaknesses. I had a wonderful time studying out each point and trying to find scripture for further study but I do recommend reading the book. I found it for three dollars at the DI and it's every bit worth it. Without further ado, here are the (simplified) steps Maxwell recommends to combat weakness and low self esteem.
1. Determine if it's divine discontent or Satan.Remember the purpose of recognizing weaknesses is to strive for bettering ourselves. It's not meant to belittle us or to damage our self confidence. This is something I struggle with. When I notice a weakness I tend to dwell on it and think of how horrible I am as a daughter of God and how I'm undeserving of His love. That is not of the Spirit nor is it true. We are all imperfect and yet He still loves us. When dealing with a particular weakness we must come to know if it is in fact from the Spirit or Satan. We know from D&C how to receive answers to prayers and this is a great way to determine such things. Once we are able to discern between the Spirit and Satan we can move on to the next step. (Read: Proverbs 22:10)
2. Remember how far we've come.In the long journey to perfection we've had a number of years to improve. While we shouldn't dwell in the past we can use it to know how far we've come for further reassurance that things aren't as bad as they used to be. It may also be a humbling tool to remind us of what to fall back into or that we still have a long way to go. The trick is to not get caught up in the past. Don't get lost in the issues and fallacies of the past when a bright and wonderful future is ahead of you. (I'm a little proud of that sentence). (Read: Luke 17:10, D&C 48: 14-15)
3. Accept help and don't be afraid to ask for it.Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to better ourselves and trying to project a perfect outlook that we neglect the importance of asking for help. It's not easy admitting our faults to others when we want them to think the best of us. Yet sometimes an outside look can help lessen the load and make our vision clear. General Naaman asked his orderlies for help (See 2 Kings 5: 1-14). We have a ward or branch to help us. That's why they exist! Everyone in that ward is imperfect just like you and they're all trying their best to get better. There's no shame in turning to your bishop or branch president for help. (Read: Alma 5:23)
4. Let others be.This bit surprised me. I never thought my concern for others would get in the way of my progress. Yet it makes sense and I've seen it in my life. It's hard to not worry about those close to us and to not want to fix them. I once read true love is when you stop trying to change someone into how you think they should be. How true is that? Don't worry yourself with how others are doing. If they ask for help, give it, but don't make it your business when they don't allow you to. (Read: 1 Nephi 19:6, Ether 12:37)
5. Write it down.Now this doesn't surprise me. I often tell people when they are serious about writing they should write a list of their strengths and weaknesses. If they find it too hard to think of their weaknesses they aren't a real writer. I then tell them to write a list on how to improve on their weaknesses. And yes, I do the same thing in real life. In fact I just wrote a list of things I wanted to do better in and then a list on how I could achieve that. The important thing to note when doing this is to take it little by little. Making a realistic goal list helps to stay motivated while taking it one step at a time. Sometimes it can be daunting but it's every bit worth it. Don't over do it. Start small with the list and don't over work yourself. (Read: Ether 12:27, Ether 12: 37, Jacob 4:7)
6. Remember you are loved.Despite our weaknesses and insecurities we are loved. There are people who care about us. And we have a wonderful Heavenly Father who loves us so stinkin much. Don't ever let yourself believe you aren't love or that you don't deserve to be loved. Our Savior didn't go through with the atonement because he thought you were okay. He loved you so much he willingly atoned for you. Perfect and imperfect people love you. Don't get discouraged. (Read: D&C 49:25, D&C 117:7-8)
7. Don't compare.Easier said than done, I know. This is something I struggle with. No matter what you don't win with comparing. If you think you're better than someone you have a pride issue. If you keep measuring yourself up against someone and feel you felt short you have a confidence issue. There's no winning in this. Remember you don't know the full story. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has problems. Everyone has imperfections. We tend to compare our behind the scenes to another's spotlight. It's easy to think they're better than us when we know all of our weaknesses and transgressions but not theirs. Take it from someone who struggles with this, it's not worth it. And hey, if it makes you feel any better, even Moroni was insecure and compared himself to Mahonri Moriancumer. Don't worry about anyone else. Just keep moving forward. (Read: D&C 46:8, James 3:16, D&C 64:8)
I'm going to stop there because this post would be way too long with all fourteen. The best advice is coming up too. Now I know I've talked in the past about comparing ourselves to others and it's clear this is something I struggle with, but I don't think it can be discussed enough. I know for myself these things get in the way of my progress. How can we progress if we're letting the irrelevant events of another's life tare us down? (another nice sentence. I'm on a roll!) Plus I got to go crazy with scripture study for a good two hours with these and who can say no to that?
I'll get more into this in my next post but remember that struggling with our weaknesses is all part of the plan. We're supposed to have weaknesses. And we can overcome them through Christ. I've loved reading this book and finding these hidden gems and look forward to finding more (I'm starting Standing For Something by Hinckley and I'm stoked!). The words of the prophets and apostles are scripture and are for us. Don't neglect them.
Until next time!