How to Raise Your Self-Esteem: The Proven Action-Oriented Approach to Greater Self-Respect and Self-Confidence

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9780553266467: How to Raise Your Self-Esteem: The Proven Action-Oriented Approach to Greater Self-Respect and Self-Confidence
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Of all the judgments you make in life, none is as  important as the one you make about yourself. The  difference between low self-esteem and high  self-esteem is the difference between passivity and  action, between failure and success. Now, one of  America's foremost psychologists and a pioneer in  self-esteem development offers a step-by-step guide to  strengthening your sense of self-worth. Here are  simple, straightforward and  effective techniques that will dramatically improve  the way you think and feel about yourself. You'll  learn:

How to break free of negative  self-concepts and self-defeating behavior.

How  to dissolve internal barriers to success in work  and love.

How to overcome anxiety,  depression, guilt and anger.

How to conquer the  fear of intimacy and success.

How to find  -- and keep -- the courage to love yourself.

  And much more.

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About the Author:

Nathaniel Branden's pioneering work in the field of self-esteem over seven decades contributed to the evolution of the concept from obscurity to greater levels of clarity and acceptance. He wrote nearly 20 books on self-esteem, including such influential works as The Psychology of Self-Esteem, How to Raise Your Self-Esteem, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, and The Art of Living Consciously. In addition to his extensive work as a writer, Branden worked as a lecturer, therapist, and corporate consultant specializing in assisting modern businesses employ the principles of self-esteem to achieve greater levels of success. He also the founded The Branden Institute for Self-Esteem, a counseling center in Los Angeles, California. He died in 2014.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1
The Importance of Self-Esteem
 
How we feel about ourselves crucially affects virtually every aspect of our experience, from the way we function at work, in love, in sex, to the way we operate as parents, to how high in life we are likely to rise. Our responses to events are shaped by who and what we think we are. The dramas of our lives are the reflections of our most private visions of ourselves. Thus, self-esteem is the key to success or failure.
 
It is also the key to understanding ourselves and others.
 
Apart from problems that are biological in origin, I cannot think of a single psychological difficulty—from anxiety and depression, to fear of intimacy or of success, to alcohol or drug abuse, to underachievement at school or at work, to spouse battering or child molestation, to sexual dysfunctions or emotional immaturity, to suicide or crimes of violence—that is not traceable to poor self-esteem. Of all the judgments we pass, none is as important as the one we pass on ourselves. Positive self-esteem is a cardinal requirement of a fulfilling life.
 
Let us understand what self-esteem is. It has two components: a feeling of personal competence and a feeling of personal worth. In other words, self-esteem is the sum of self-confidence and self-respect. It reflects your implicit judgment of your ability to cope with the challenges of your life (to understand and master your problems) and of your right to be happy (to respect and stand up for your interests and needs).
 
To have high self-esteem is to feel confidently appropriate to life, that is, competent and worthy in the sense just indicated. To have low self-esteem is to feel inappropriate to life; wrong, not about this issue or that, but wrong as a person. To have average self-esteem is to fluctuate between feeling appropriate and inappropriate, right and wrong as a person, and to manifest these inconsistencies in behavior—sometimes acting wisely, sometimes acting foolishly—thereby reinforcing the uncertainty.
 
The ability to develop a healthy self-confidence and self-respect is inherent in our natures, since our ability to think is the basic source of our competence, and the fact that we are alive is the basic source of our right to strive for happiness. Ideally, everyone should enjoy a high level of self-esteem, experiencing both intellectual self-trust and a strong sense that happiness is appropriate. Unfortunately, however, a great many people do not. Many people suffer from feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, self-doubt, guilt, and fear of full participation in life—a vague sense that “I am not enough.” These feelings are not always readily recognized and acknowledged, but they are there.
 
In the process of growing up, and in the process of living itself, it is all too easy for us to become alienated from (or never to form) a positive self-concept. We may never reach a joyful vision of ourselves because of negative input from others, or because we have defaulted on our own honesty, integrity, responsibility and self-assertiveness, or because we have judged our own actions with inadequate understanding and compassion.
 
However, self-esteem is always a matter of degree. I have never known anyone who was entirely lacking in positive self-esteem, nor have I known anyone who was incapable of growing in self-esteem.
 
To grow in self-esteem is to grow in the conviction that one is competent to live and worthy of happiness, and therefore to face life with greater confidence, benevolence, and optimism, which help us to reach our goals and experience fulfillment. To grow in self-esteem is to expand our capacity for happiness.
 
If we understand this, we can appreciate the fact that all of us have a stake in cultivating our self-esteem. It is not necessary to hate ourselves before we can learn to love ourselves more; we do not have to feel inferior in order to want to feel more confident. We do not have to be miserable to want to expand our capacity for joy.
 
The higher our self-esteem, the better equipped we are to cope with life’s adversities; the more resilient we are, the more we resist pressure to succumb to despair or defeat.
 
The higher our self-esteem, the more likely we are to be creative in our work, which means the more successful we are likely to be.
 
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, creatively, and spiritually.
 
The higher our self-esteem, the more likely we are to form nourishing rather than destructive relationships, since like is drawn to like, health is attracted to health, and vitality and expansiveness are more appealing than emptiness and exploitiveness.
 
The higher our self-esteem, the more inclined we are to treat others with respect, benevolence, and goodwill, since we do not perceive them as threats, do not feel as “strangers and afraid in a world [we] never made” (quoting A. E. Housman’s poem), and since self-respect is the foundation of respect for others.
 
The higher our self-esteem, the more joy we experience in the sheer fact of being, of waking up in the morning, of living inside our own bodies.
 
These are the rewards of self-confidence and self-respect.
 
In Honoring the Self I discuss in detail why such correlations exist. But I trust it is clear that if we wish to expand our positive possibilities, and thereby transform the quality of our existence, the art of nurturing our self-esteem is the place to begin.
 
Let us go still more deeply into the meaning of self-esteem.
 
Self-esteem, on whatever level, is an intimate experience; it resides in the core of our being. It is what I think and feel about myself, not what someone else thinks or feels about me.
 
As children our self-confidence and self-respect can be nurtured or undermined by adults—according to whether we are respected, loved, valued, and encouraged to trust ourselves. But even in our early years our own choices and decisions play a crucial role in the level of self-esteem we ultimately develop. We are far from being merely passive receptacles of other people’s views of us. And in any case, whatever our upbringing may have been, as adults the matter is in our own hands.
 
No one else can breathe for us, no one else can think for us, no one else can thrust self-trust and self-love upon us.
 
I can be loved by my family, my mate, and my friends and yet not love myself. I can be admired by my associates and yet regard myself as worthless. I can project an image of assurance and poise that fools virtually everyone and yet secretly tremble with a sense of my inadequacy.
 
I can fulfill the expectations of others and yet fail my own; I can win every honor and yet feel I have accomplished nothing; I can be adored by millions and yet wake up each morning with a sickening sense of fradulence and emptiness.
 
To attain “success” without attaining positive self-esteem is to be condemned to feeling like an impostor anxiously awaiting exposure.
 
Just as the acclaim of others does not create our self-esteem, neither do knowledge, skill, material possessions, marriage, parenthood, charitable endeavors, sexual conquests, or face lifts. These things can sometimes make us feel better about ourselves temporarily, or more comfortable in particular situations; but comfort is not self-esteem.
 
The tragedy is that so many people look for self-confidence and self-respect everywhere except within themselves, and so they fail in their search. We shall see that positive self-esteem is best understood as a kind of spiritual attainment—that is, as a victory in the evolution of consciousness. When we begin to understand self-esteem in this way, as a condition of consciousness, we appreciate the foolishness of believing that if we can only manage to make a positive impression on others we will then enjoy positive self-regard. We will stop telling ourselves: If only I get one more promotion; if only I become a wife and mother; if only I am perceived to be a good provider; if only I can afford a bigger car; if only I can write one more book, acquire one more company, one more lover, one more award, one more acknowledgment of my “selflessness”—then I will really feel at peace with myself. We will realize that since the quest is irrational, the longing will always be for “one more.”
 
If self-esteem is the judgment that I am appropriate to life, the experience of competence and worth—if self-esteem is self-affirming consciousness, a mind that trusts itself—no one can generate this experience except myself.
 
When we appreciate the true nature of self-esteem, we see that it is not competitive or comparative.
 
Genuine self-esteem is not expressed by self-glorification at the expense of others, or by the quest to make oneself superior to others or to diminish others so as to elevate oneself. Arrogance, boastfulness, and the overestimation of our abilities reflect inadequate self-esteem rather than, as some people imagine, too much self-esteem.
 
One of the most significant characteristics of healthy self-esteem is that it is the state of one who is not at war either with himself or with others.
 
The importance of healthy self-esteem lies in the fact that it is the foundation of our ability to respond actively and positively to the opportunities of life—in work, in love, and in play. It is also the foundation of that serenity of spirit that makes possible the enjoyment of life.
 

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