Honoring the Self: Self-Esteem and Personal Transformation

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9780553268140: Honoring the Self: Self-Esteem and Personal Transformation
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Self-concept is destiny

What is the most important judgement you will ever make? The judgement you pass on yourself. Self-esteem is the key to success or failure.

"Tell me how a person judges his or her self-esteem," says pioneering psychologist Nathaniel Branden, "and I will tell you how that person operates at work, in love, in sex, in parenting, in every important aspect of existence—and how high he or she is likely to rise.  The reputation you have with yourself—your self-esteem—is the single most important factor for a fulfilling life."

· How to grow in self-confidence and self-respect.
· How to nurture self-esteem in children.
· How to break free of guilt and fear of others' disapproval.
· How to honor the self—the ethics of rational self-interest.

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L'autore:

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.

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1
 
 
Self-Esteem in Human Life
 
“The greatest evil that can befall man is that he should come to think ill of himself,” wrote Goethe. While he may have been defying certain religious beliefs, he was acknowledging a profound truth about human nature.
 
The greatest barrier to achievement and success is not lack of talent or ability but, rather, the fact that achievement and success, above a certain level, are outside our self-concept, our image of who we are and what is appropriate to us. The greatest barrier to love is the secret fear that we are unlovable. The greatest barrier to happiness is the wordless sense that happiness is not our proper destiny. This, in simplest statement, is the importance of self-esteem. So we must begin by understanding what self-esteem means.
 
Unfortunately, like so many other terms in psychology, there is no generally agreed-upon definition. And the assumption that we all know what it means is mistaken. If we were to ask anyone what self-esteem means, we might receive an answer such as, “I feel competent, sure of myself,” or “I like myself,” or “Thinking I’m superior to other people.” The first two statements would not be wrong but would be incomplete; the third would simply be false.
 
A person who does not feel competent in the performance of some particular task, such as flying an airplane, designing a computer program, or operating a business, does not necessarily suffer from poor self-esteem. But a physically healthy person who feels fundamentally inadequate to the normal challenges of life, such as earning a living, most certainly does. A person who feels undeserving of some particular award or honor, such as the Nobel Prize or universal adulation for having dashed off a fairly simple love song, again does not necessarily lack good self-esteem. But a person who feels undeserving of happiness, who feels unworthy of any joy or reward in life, surely has a self-esteem deficiency.
 
Self-esteem is a concept pertaining to a fundamental sense of efficacy and a fundamental sense of worth, to competence and worthiness in principle. “I trust my mind to make the choices and decisions that will guide my life” is a very different statement, in terms of self-esteem, from “I feel very confident to deal with the problems posed by molecular biology.” “I feel entitled to assert my own legitimate needs and wants” is very different from “I am entitled to 10 million dollars.”
 
High self-esteem can best be understood as the integrated sum of self-confidence and self-respect. Self-confidence is consciousness evaluating the efficacy of its own operations when applied to the task of understanding and dealing with reality. Am I competent to know? Am I competent to choose? To chart the course of my life? To satisfy my needs? Self-respect is the feeling of personal worth. Is it appropriate that I should be happy? That others should find me lovable? That I should be treated with respect? That my needs and wants should matter to those who are close to me?
 
In sum, self-esteem is an evaluation of my mind, my consciousness, and, in a profound sense, my person. It is not an evaluation of particular successes or failures, nor is it an evaluation of particular knowledge or skills. Thus, I can be very confident of myself at the fundamental level and yet be uncertain of my abilities in specific social situations. And, conversely, I can outwardly revel in my social savoir-faire, yet inwardly be self-doubting and insecure.
 
Going still further, I can be universally loved and yet not love myself. I can be universally admired and yet not admire myself. I can be widely regarded as brilliant and yet think myself intellectually inadequate. I can be a high achiever and yet feel like a failure, because I have not lived up to my own standards.
 
Living up to my own standards is, as we shall see when we consider the factors that enhance or diminish self-esteem, an essential condition of high self-esteem. The notion that my self-esteem is simply a function of how others see and evaluate me is false.
 
I have said that positive self-esteem is the experience that I am competent to live and worthy of happiness—or, to express the same thought a little differently, that I am appropriate to life and to its requirements and challenges. It would be more precise to say that positive self-esteem is the disposition to experience myself in this way, since, like any other feeling or state, it is not experienced with equal intensity at all times. Self-esteem is an orientation toward the self. Self-esteem is the ultimate ground of consciousness, ground to all particular experience; this is the single most important thing to be understood about its role in human psychology.
 
To experience that I am competent to live means that I have confidence in the functioning of my mind. To experience that I am worthy of living means that I have an affirmative attitude toward my right to live and to be happy.
 
In contrast to this experience, to have poor self-esteem is to feel that I am inappropriate to life, that I am wrong—not wrong about an issue or a piece of knowledge, but wrong as a person, wrong in my being. I thus respond to the challenges and joys of existence with a fundamental sense of inadequacy and unworthiness.
 
Of course, I may elect to judge myself by such relatively superficial criteria as success or failure at specific tasks, my ability to elicit love, admiration, or approval, and so forth. But to do so is already to have a problem in self-esteem, as we shall see when I discuss pseudo-self-esteem.
 
Besides which, the people we are most likely to admire are precisely those who manage to persevere in faithfulness to their own vision, without a good deal of positive reinforcement, without the understanding of others, their approval, or their applause—in fact, often in the face of hostility and opposition. When we see those who possess a fundamental certainty about themselves that remains relatively untouched by the vicissitudes of life, we sense that an unusual psychological achievement is involved; we may or may not identify that what we are looking at is high self-esteem.
 
To the extent that we trust the efficacy of our mind, we persevere when faced with difficult or complex challenges. And we are likely to succeed more often than fail, confirming and reinforcing our sense of efficacy. High self-esteem seeks the stimulation of demanding goals. To the extent that we doubt the efficacy of our minds, we do not persevere. And we are likely to fail more often than succeed, confirming and reinforcing our negative self-evaluation. Low self-esteem typically seeks the safety of the familiar and undemanding.
 
For example, two persons go to work in the same office. The first seeks to learn everything relevant to the job for which he has been hired, to expand his knowledge continually, and to keep searching for more effective ways to do the tasks he has been given. The second is concerned primarily with not drawing negative attention to himself; beyond that, his policy is to get by with as little effort as possible; to him, a job is a refuge, not an opportunity. The first will not be bewildered by his success; the second may profess to be bewildered by his failure.
 
If I enjoy healthy self-esteem, I value rather than am threatened by that same trait in others. People with poor self-esteem end up in the company of their own kind; shared fear and insecurity reinforce negative self-assessments.
 
And if I feel lovable and deserving of respect, I treat others well and expect them to treat me well. But if I feel unlovable and undeserving of respect and I am treated poorly, I put up with it and feel it is my fate.
 
Low self-esteem tends to generate depression and anxiety. To feel that I am significantly devoid of efficacy and worth is almost inevitably to experience existence as frightening and futile.
 
And while good self-esteem is only one of the elements necessary for happiness and does not necessarily guarantee happiness in and of itself, a high level of self-confidence and self-respect is intimately related to the ability to enjoy life and to find sources of satisfaction in our existence.
 
High self-esteem is a powerful force in the service of life.
 
We need to distinguish the concept of positive self-esteem from the concept of pride, since the two are often confused. Self-esteem, as we have seen, pertains to an inner conviction of our fundamental efficacy and worth. Pride pertains to the more explicitly conscious pleasure we take in ourselves on the basis of and in response to specific achievements or actions. Positive self-esteem is “I can.” Pride is “I have,” and the deepest pride we can experience is that which results from the achievement of self-esteem, for self-esteem is a value that has to be earned—and has to be maintained.
 
Pride is a positive emotional experience, just as self-esteem is. It is not a vice to be overcome but a virtue to be attained—a form of honoring the self. If, however, one subscribes to the view that human beings are unworthy by nature (for example, if one thinks of humanity as “all equally miserable sinners in the sight of God”), then of course one speaks of “the sin of pride” and warns that “pride goeth before a fall.” But this is a perspective I do not share; indeed, I regard it as malevolent and antilife.
 
Is it possible to possess too high a level of self-esteem? Not if we understand that we are speaking of authentic self-esteem, a genuine, organic experience, and not some overinflated pretense at self-value aimed at concealing a deficiency.
 
No one would ask, “Is it possible to enjoy too high a level of physical health?” Health is an unqualified desirable. So is positive self-esteem.
 

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Descrizione libro Random House USA Inc, United States, 1997. Paperback. Condizione: New. Reissue. Language: English. Brand new Book. Self-concept is destiny What is the most important judgement you will ever make? The judgement you pass on yourself. Self-esteem is the key to success or failure. Tell me how a person judges his or her self-esteem, says pioneering psychologist Nathaniel Branden, and I will tell you how that person operates at work, in love, in sex, in parenting, in every important aspect of existence--and how high he or she is likely to rise. The reputation you have with yourself--your self-esteem--is the single most important factor for a fulfilling life. - How to grow in self-confidence and self-respect.- How to nurture self-esteem in children.- How to break free of guilt and fear of others' disapproval.- How to honor the self--the ethics of rational self-interest. Codice articolo AAS9780553268140

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Descrizione libro Random House USA Inc, United States, 1997. Paperback. Condizione: New. Reissue. Language: English. Brand new Book. Self-concept is destiny What is the most important judgement you will ever make? The judgement you pass on yourself. Self-esteem is the key to success or failure. Tell me how a person judges his or her self-esteem, says pioneering psychologist Nathaniel Branden, and I will tell you how that person operates at work, in love, in sex, in parenting, in every important aspect of existence--and how high he or she is likely to rise. The reputation you have with yourself--your self-esteem--is the single most important factor for a fulfilling life. - How to grow in self-confidence and self-respect.- How to nurture self-esteem in children.- How to break free of guilt and fear of others' disapproval.- How to honor the self--the ethics of rational self-interest. Codice articolo BZV9780553268140

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