This month we are talking about self-esteem. It’s a topic that is important to me and one that I consider myself very well versed in, after living for many years with low self-esteem, which is part of what inspired me to become a coach and study self-esteem and self-worth daily.
Every day I see and hear people wondering about themselves, as spouses, as parents, as people. We want to be the best we can be. Parents not only struggle with their own self-esteem issues but strive to instill lessons in their children that will allow them to develop a healthy self-esteem.
With so much thought and talk about it, I wondered if people really and truly understand what exactly it is.
The most widely accepted definition is that of Nathaniel Branden, who defines healthy self-esteem as “the disposition to experience oneself as competent to cope with life’s challenges and being worthy of happiness.”
So how does one go about becoming competent and felling worthy?
Every single day we learn, we make choices and decisions and we respond to change. We evaluate our “results” when it comes to those things. We also look at our successes and achievements and happiness and we put it all together and decide if we think we are worthy.
This powerful quote really says so much. What if it’s true???
“Apart from disturbance whose roots are biological, I cannot think of a single psychological problem—from anxiety and depression, to underachievement at school or at work, to fear of intimacy, happiness, or success, to alcohol or drug abuse, to spouse battering or child molestation, to co-dependency and sexual disorders, to passivity and chronic aimlessness, to suicide and crimes of violence—that is not traceable, at least in part, to the problem of deficient self-esteem. Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is as important as the one we pass on ourselves.” ~ Nathaniel Branden from The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem
I think we all understand the importance of a healthy self-esteem, so how do we develop it in ourselves and help our children grow with confidence and deep rooted self-esteem?
The answer has been defined by Branden, below. Study this outline and see how closely aligned you are with the Pillars.
When I read this, my mind instantly goes to the pillar of The Practice of Self-assertiveness. The willingness to stand up for ourselves and our ideas. Not backing down to peer pressure or people with stronger and louder opinions. I think of my teens and twenties. when that wasn’t easy to do… to just be me. I didn’t know who “me” was.
I realized that before we can start to feel good about who we are, we have to know who we are. If you haven’t seen my values assessment yet, click here to get. Understand your values and core beliefs creates a guidepost to measure “me” against. You can look at how well you are living your values and beliefs and feel proud of your authenticity – which will naturally boost your self-worth and self-esteem.
This my friends, is just the beginning…and it’s an exciting journey!
BUILDING SELF-ESTEEM by Nathaniel Branden
In “The Six Pillars of Self Esteem,” Branden examines the six practices that he has found to be essential for the nurturing and sustaining of healthy self-esteem:
The practice of living consciously, of self-acceptance, of self-responsibility, of self-assertiveness, of purposefulness, and of integrity. I will briefly define what each of these practices means:
The practice of living consciously: this practice is about being aware. Being aware of the moment, your beliefs, your values, what you are doing (rather than just following the crowd mindlessly). It is about being open and eager to learn and being conscious of what we know and don’t know. Seeking to understand ourselves and our world.
The practice of self-acceptance: the willingness to own, experience, and take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, and actions, without evasion, denial, or disowning and without punishing ourselves and forming judgment or comparing to others; 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; the virtue of realism applied to the self.
The practice of self-responsibility: realizing that we are the author of our choices and actions; that each one us is responsible for life and well-being and for the attainment of our goals; that 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?”
The practice of self-assertiveness: being authentic in our dealings with others; treating our values and persons with decent respect in social contexts; refusing to fake the reality of who we are or what we esteem in order to avoid disapproval; the willingness to stand up for ourselves and our ideas in appropriate ways in appropriate contexts.
The practice of living purposefully: identifying our short-term and long-term goals or purposes and the actions needed to attain them (formulating an action-plan); organizing behavior in the service of those goals; 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: living with congruence between what we know, what we profess, and what we do; telling the truth, honoring our commitments, exemplifying in action the values we profess to admire.