More threads by Benjamin


Has anyone else read Nathaniel Branden's book, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem? I read it about two years ago and it's helped me quite a bit. I'm a big proponent of building your self-esteem. I run a group for people with social anxiety and most of the people who attend have self-esteem problems, whether it's from environmental conditions they were exposed to as a child, or from lack of good social skills.

Here is a quick summary of Nathaniel Branden's "six pillars."

  1. Living Consciously
    Living consciously means being fully vested in your life. It’s about living in the present and doing your best at everything you do. It’s about being willing to accept and correct mistakes, and having a desire to understand the world around you. It’s being aware of your needs, feelings, aspirations, and motives.
  2. Self-acceptance
    Self-acceptance is one of the most important concepts in building self-esteem. From Six Pillars of Self-esteem, "Self-acceptance is my refusal to be in an adversarial relationship to myself. It’s stopping the self-hatred and respecting myself. It’s also accepting my fears and shortcomings. I don’t have to be perfect. It’s accepting that I have done some bad things and have made mistakes. That doesn’t make me a bad person. I cannot correct a problem until I admit that it exists. I cannot overcome a fear that I deny exists. "I cannot be truly for myself, cannot build self-esteem, if I cannot accept myself. Self-acceptance is being a good friend to myself. It’s also about accepting my physical appearance.
  3. Self-responsibility
    Self-responsibility is having a sense of control over my existence. It’s about taking responsibility for my actions and the attainment of my goals. It’s taking responsibility for my life and well-being. It’s recognizing when I have done wrong and understanding why I did what I did.
  4. Self-assertiveness
    Self-assertiveness means honoring my wants, needs, and values, and seeking appropriate means to fulfill them. It’s the willingness to stand up for myself, to be who I am openly, to treat myself with respect in all human encounters. To merely hold values is not self-assertion - to pursue them and stand by them in the world, is. It’s about not having a bit part in my life - it’s being the leading man. To practice self-assertiveness is to be committed to my right to exist; I am not here on earth to live up to someone else’s expectations.
  5. Living Purposely
    What do I want for myself in five, ten, twenty years? What do I want to accomplish? What do I want in the area of personal relationships? What are my intellectual or spiritual aspirations? What do I want out of life?

    To live purposely is to live with intention and to use our powers for the attainment of our goals. Our goals lead us forward, call on the exercise of our faculties, and energize our existence. To live without purpose is to live at the mercy of chance. To live purposely is to live productively, of transferring our ideas into reality, of setting goals, and working towards their achievement. Goals can be something as simple as exercising three times a week. They need to be specific and measurable so that I may monitor my progress and modify my strategy. To live purposely requires self-discipline. Coping with the challenges of life requires self-discipline. Self-discipline requires the ability to defer immediate gratification in the service of a remote goal - to think, plan, and live long-range.

    Living purposely is not living a life without rest, relaxation, recreation, or even frivolous activity. It is about choosing such activities consciously.

    Living purposely entails the following steps.
    1. Formulating goals
    2. Identifying the actions necessary to achieve those goals
    3. Monitoring my behavior to assure it is in alignment with my goals.
    4. Acting in ways in which the outcome of my actions is in alignment with my goals. Is my strategy working?
  6. Personal Integrity
    Integrity is the integration of ideals, convictions, standards, and beliefs with our behavior. When we behave in ways that conflict with our judgment of what is appropriate, we lose face in our own eyes. We respect ourselves less. If the policy becomes habitual, we lose trust in ourselves. When a breach of integrity wounds self-esteem, only the practice of integrity can heal it.

    At the simplest level, personal integrity consists of honesty, reliability, and trustworthiness. It’s doing the things I admire and avoiding the things I deplore. It’s about dealing fairly with others.
    And it’s about congruence between my words and my actions.


I thought it might be interesting to look at each "pillar" individually because they can mean different things to different people.

The first one, "living consciously," means several things to me.

Being fully vested in your life means not dwelling on the past or the future, but living in the present. That can be difficult to do, sometimes, especially when we're preoccupied with worry, doubt, and ruminations. I've found that the practice of mindfulness can help quite a bit to keep me in the present.

Having a desire to understand yourself and the world around you makes life richer. The world is a fascinating place. Sure, there are a lot of bad people, and sometimes we feel bad, but if we look objectively at the world as if we were scientists trying to try to understand why things are the way they are and why people behave the way they do, that makes life interesting and gives our lives meaning.

Learning doesn't necessarily mean taking classes. There are plenty of books available at the local library on nearly every subject. Learning for the sake of learning is much more gratifying than learning simply to earn a grade.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Learning doesn't necessarily mean taking classes. There are plenty of books available at the local library on nearly every subject. Learning for the sake of learning is much more gratifying than learning simply to earn a grade.

Absolutely correct,


The Six Pillars of Self-esteem

I highly recommend The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem written by N. Branden, and available at most public libraries. I have found this book to be like a training guide for learning to live a meaningful and more courageous life.

Hope others will find it helpful too.

Daniel E.
The Importance of Self-Esteem

From a new, one-page article on the importance of self-esteem by the author of The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem:

The key to human motivation is self-esteem. By self-esteem I mean much more than that innate sense of self-worth that presumably is our human birthright—that spark that we seek to fan in others. Self-esteem is the experience that we are appropriate to life and to the requirements of life. Self-esteem is confidence in our ability to think, to cope with the challenges of life, and in our right to be happy, the feeling of being worthy, deserving, entitled to respect our needs and wants and to enjoy the fruits of our efforts...

When self-esteem is low, your resilience in the face of adversities is diminished. You crumble before vicissitudes that a healthier sense of self could vanquish. You tend to be more influenced by the desire to avoid pain than to experience joy; negatives have more power over you than positives. If you don’t believe in yourself—neither in your efficacy nor in your goodness—the universe is a frightening place...

A healthy sense of self-value is not all you need to assure happiness and success. Its presence does not guarantee fulfillment; but its lack guarantees some measure of anxiety, frustration, and despair. Self-esteem proclaims itself as a need by virtue of the fact that its relative absence impairs our ability to function...

With high self-esteem, you seek the stimulation of demanding goals; and reaching goals nurtures your self-esteem. With low self-esteem, you seek the safety of the familiar and undemanding, thus weakening your self-esteem...The higher your self-esteem, the more ambitious you tend to be, not necessarily in a career or financial sense, but in terms of what you hope to experience—emotionally, creatively, spiritually. The lower your self-esteem, the less you aspire to, and the less you are likely to ahieve. Either path tends to be self-enforcing and self-perpetuating...

Self-esteem has two interrelated aspects: a sense of personal efficacy (self-efficacy) and a sense of personal worth (self-respect). As a fully realized psychological experience, it is the integrated sum of these two aspects.

Self-efficacy means confidence in your ability to think, judge, choose, decide, and know the facts of reality that fall within your interests and need cognitive self-trust and self-reliance.

• Self-respect means assurance of you value—an affirmative attitude toward your right to live and to be happy; comfort in appropriately asserting your thoughts, wants, and needs; the feeling that joy is your natural birthright.

Self-efficacy and self-respect are the pillars of healthy self-esteem; absent either one, self-esteem is impaired. Self-efficacy generates the sense of having control over your life—not being a passive spectator and a victim of events.

Self-Esteem: Seek now to cultivate it (PDF)
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