Here’s the experiment: Count how many times today you send yourself negative self-messages.

Any self-directed criticism telling you that you “are not enough” counts as one. For example, tally how many times you berate yourself for not acting like a better parent/friend/spouse (why did I YELL?), or for not being more creative at work (why didn’t I come up with that idea?), or for not choosing healthier food selections (did I really need to devour that ENTIRE chocolate bar?).

I’ll bet you’ll come up with a pretty high number. As a result of all our criticism, many of us feel unworthy and inadequate, like we will never measure up.

On the other hand, I’ve met more than a few individuals who have acted like they were the greatest gift to mankind. They don’t see any of their inadequacies, nor any need to work on themselves to be kinder, more understanding individuals.

So, how can we balance a healthy and realistic self-image while still striving to improve? Is self-esteem really about feeling like we’ve “arrived” and are as good or as talented as it gets?

This week’s Torah portion teaches us a lesson from Moses who reached the heights of spiritual communication and connection with G‑d. Moses should have had a pretty healthy self-image, and yet, we don’t see even a tinge of arrogance. Moreover, the commentaries note that the small aleph in the word Vayikrah, beginning this Parshah, hints to us that Moses was the most humble person who ever walked this earth.

How? Did Moses not realize his exceptional qualities? Why didn’t he feel even a touch of arrogance?

Because true humility—as well as a truly positive self-image—does not come from denying or aggrandizing our talents but rather from acknowledging that all our abilities are a present from G‑d. If G‑d had given another person the same qualities, he may have surpassed my own accomplishments. But G‑d provides me with these channels to accomplish His will in the best manner possible—as only I can.

So, humility as well as a healthy sense of self (--and maybe even that chocolate bar!) can coincide. We just need to bring G‑d into the picture.