What_Self_Esteem_Is_and_Is_Not

What_Self_Esteem_Is_and_Is_Not - What Self-Esteem Is and Is...

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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” Four decades ago, when I began lecturing on self-esteem, the challenge was to persuade people that the subject was worthy of study. Almost no one was talking or writing about self- esteem in those days. Today, almost everyone seems to be talking about self-esteem, and the danger is that the idea may become trivialized. And yet, of all the judgments we pass in life, none is more important than the judgment we pass on ourselves. Having written on this theme in a series of books, I want, in this short article, to address the issue of what self-esteem is, what it depends on, and what are some of the most prevalent misconceptions about it. Self-esteem is an experience. It is a particular way of experiencing the self. It is a good deal more than a mere feeling—this must be stressed. 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. A Definition To begin with a definition: 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. It is confidence in the efficacy of our mind, in our ability to think. 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 survival-value of such confidence is obvious; so is the danger when it is missing. Self-esteem is not the euphoria or buoyancy that may be temporarily induced by a drug, a compliment, or a love affair. It is not an illusion or hallucination. If it is not grounded in reality, if it is not built over time through the appropriate operation of mind, it is not self- esteem. 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. We control the switch that turns consciousness brighter or dimmer. We are not rational—that is, reality-focused—automatically. This means that whether we learn to operate our mind in such a way as to make ourselves appropriate to life is
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ultimately a function of our choices. 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? Building Self-Esteem
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This note was uploaded on 02/05/2011 for the course HUM SRVS 100 taught by Professor Lovern/elam during the Fall '07 term at Allan Hancock College.

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What_Self_Esteem_Is_and_Is_Not - What Self-Esteem Is and Is...

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