Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Self esteem – a wise outlook

What Self-Esteem Is and Is Not
Nathaniel Branden, PhD
Copyright © 1997, Nathaniel Branden, All Rights Reserved
This article is adapted from "The Art of Living Consciously" (Simon & Schuster, 1997).

The judgment we pass on ourselves is the most important aspect of our perception
Self-esteem is an experience. It involves emotional, evaluative, and cognitive components. It also entails certain action dispositions: to move toward life rather than away from it; to move toward consciousness rather than away from it; to treat facts with respect rather than denial; to operate self-responsibly rather than the opposite.
Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and of being worthy of happiness
By extension, it is confidence in our ability to learn, make appropriate choices and decisions, and respond effectively to change. It is also the experience that success, achievement, fulfillment—happiness—are right and natural for us.

The root of our need for self-esteem is the need for a consciousness to learn to trust itself. And the root of the need to learn such trust is the fact that consciousness is volitional: we have the choice to think or not to think.

Do we strive for consciousness or for its opposite? For rationality or its opposite? For coherence and clarity or their opposite? For truth or its opposite?
The practice of living consciously
  1. respect for facts
  2. being present to what we are doing while are doing it
  3. seeking and being eagerly open to any information, knowledge, or feedback that bears on our interests, values, goals, and projects
  4. seeking to understand not only the world external to self but also our inner world

The practice of self-acceptance
  1. the willingness to own, experience, and take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, and actions, without evasion, denial, or disowning—and also without self-repudiation
  2. giving oneself permission to think one's thoughts, experience one's emotions, and look at one's actions without necessarily liking, endorsing, or condoning them
  3. the virtue of realism applied to the self.
The practice of self-responsibility
  1. Realizing that we are the author of our choices and actions
  2. Each one of us is responsible for life and well-being and for the attainment of our goals
  3. If we need the cooperation of other people to achieve our goals, we must offer values in exchange; and that question is not "Who's to blame?" but always "What needs to be done?" ("What do I need to do?")
The practice of self-assertiveness
  1. being authentic in our dealings with others
  2. treating our values and persons with decent respect in social contexts
  3. refusing to fake the reality of who we are or what we esteem in order to avoid disapproval
  4. the willingness to stand up for ourselves and our ideas in appropriate ways in appropriate contexts.
The practice of living purposefully
  1. identifying our short-term and long-term goals or purposes and the actions needed to attain them (formulating an action-plan)
  2. organizing behavior in the service of those goals
  3. monitoring action to be sure we stay on track; and paying attention to outcome so as to recognize if and when we need to go back to the drawing-board

The practice of personal integrity
  1. living with congruence between what we know, what we profess, and what we do
  2. telling the truth, honoring our commitments, exemplifying in action the values we profess to admire.


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