Nathaniel Branden’s The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem is the culmination of a lifetime of clinical practice and study, already hailed in its hardcover edition as a classic and the most significant work on the topic.
Self-esteem is a fundamental human need
There are realities we cannot avoid. One of them is the importance of self-esteem. Regardless of what we do or do not admit, we cannot be indiferent to our self-evalutation.
Self-esteem is a fundamental human need. Its impact requires neither our understanding nor our consent. It works its way within us with or without our knowledge.
A preliminary definition
Self-esteem, fully realized, is the experience that we are appropriate to life and to the requirements of life. More specifically, self-esteem is:
- Confidence in our ability to think, confidence in our ability to cope with the basic challenges of life; and
- Confidence in our right to be successful and happy, the feeling of being worthy, deserving, entitled to assert our needs and wants, achieve our values, and enjoy the fruits of our efforts.
What’s the essence of self-esteem?
To trust one’s mind and to know that one is worthy of happiness is the essence of self-esteem.
The power of this conviction about oneself lies in the fact that it is more than a judgment or a feeling. It is a motivator. It inspires behavior.
If I trust my mind and judgment, I am more likely to opearate as a thinking being. Exercising my ability to think, bringing appropriate awareness to my activities, my life works better. This reinforces trust in my mind. If I distrust my mind, I am more likely to be mentally passive, to bring less awareness than I need to my activities, and less persistence in the face of difficulties.
If I respect myself and require that others deal with me respectfully, I send out signals and behave in ways that increase the likelihood that others will respond appropriately. When they do, I am reinforced and confirmed in my initial belief. If I lack self-respect and consequently accept discourtesy, abuse, or exploitation from others as natural, I unconsciously transmit this, and some people will treat me at my self-estimate.
Feeling comfortable with ‘persons’ whose self-esteem level resembles our own
Higher self-esteem seeks the challenge and stimulation of worthwhile and demanding goals. Reaching such goals nurtures good self-esteem. Low self-esteem seeks the safety of the familiar and undemanding.
The higher our self-esteem,
the more ambitious we tend to be, not necessarily in a career or financial sense, but in terms of what we hope to experience in life–emotionally, intellectually, creatively, spiritually.
the stronger the drive to express ourselves, reflecting the sense of richness within.
the more open, honest, and appropriate our comunications are likely to be, because we believe our thoughts have value and therefore we welcome rather than fear clarity.
the more disposed we are to form nourishing rather than toxic relationships.
As important principle of human relationships is that we tend to feel more comfortable, most ‘at home’ with persons whose self-esteem level resembles our own.
The healthier our self-esteem, the more inclined we are to treat others with respect, benevolence, goodwill, and fairness–since we do not tend to perceive them as a threat, and since self-respect is the foundation of respect for others.