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The Power of Self-Esteem PDF

60 Pages·2002·3.16 MB·English
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The Power Other Books By Nathaniel Branden The Psychology Of Self-Esteem Breaking Free Of Self-Esteem The Disowned Self The Psychology Of Romantic Love What Love Asks Of Us Honoring The Self If You Could Hear What I Cannot Say The Art Of Self-Discovery How To Raise Your Self-Esteem Judgment Day: My Years With Ayn Rand Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D. F] ui! Health Communications, Inc. Deerfield Beach, Florida C O N T E N TS Preface ....................................................................... vi Introduction .............................................................x.i.. 1. What Is Self-Esteem? ............................................ 1 e WN oD yheW .e2 d Self-Esteem? .........................12.. 3. Self-Esteem And Achievement ............................. 31 4. Reflections On The Sources Of Self-Esteem ....... 49 5. The Power Of Self-Esteem In The Workplace ..... 75 . 6Recommendat riFoouFnrs ther Study ...........9..8..... . Bibliography ..............................................................79. nednarB leinahtaN 2991© ISBN 1-55874-213-1 oN .aciremA fo setatS detinU eht ni detnirP .devreser sthgir llA laveirter a ni derots ,decudorper eb yam noitacilbup siht fo trap ,cinortcele ,snaem yna yb ro mrof yna ni dettimsnart ro metsys mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the .rehsilbup eht fo noissimrep nettirw .cnI ,snoitacinummoC htlaeH :rehsilbuP 3201 S.W. 15th Street Deerf ield Beach, Florida 33442-8190 hguolC enitsirhC yb ngised revoC P R E F A CE Self-Esteem -pa era ew taht ecneirepxe eht si meetse-fleS A Definition fo stnemeriuqer eht ot dna efil ot etairporp life. More specifically, self-esteem is ... Self-esteem is a powerful force within each one of us. 1. Confidence in our ability to think and to It encompasses much more than that innate sense of .efil fo segnellahc cisab eht htiw epoc — thgirhtrib namuh ruo si ylbamuserp hcihw htrow-fles eht ,yppah eb ot thgir ruo ni ecnedifnoC .2 srehcaet ro stsiparehtohcysp era ohw ew taht kraps taht feeling of being worthy, deserving, en- eht ylno si kraps tahT .htiw krow ew esoht ni naf ot kees titled to assert our needs and wants and anteroom to self-esteem. .stroffe ruo fo stiurf eht yojne ot As you begin to read this book, I want you to know precisely what I mean when I say "self-esteem." There are many definitions which I consider misleading, less power- meetse-fles fI .esoporp I eno eht naht lufesu ssel ro luf loses its precise meaning and descends to the level of a Later in this book I will refine and condense this defi- esoht yb ylsuoires nekat eb ton yam ti ,drowzzub erem ssucsid I nehw naem I tahw si siht yllaitnesse tub ,noitin we are attempting to reach — the very people who need the concept of self-esteem. it the most. VI Vll I N T R O D U C T I ON The Importance Of Self-Esteem An Historical Perspective A over the world today there is an awakening to the tsuj taht ezingocer eW .meetse-fles fo ecnatropmi -netop reh ro sih ezilaer ot epoh tonnac gnieb namuh a sa tial without healthy self-esteem, neither can a society whose members do not value themselves and do not trust their minds. I want to address the issue, therefore, of what precisely "self-esteem" means, and how and why it affects our noitadnuof siht no ylnO .seod ti sa yldnuoforp sa sevil can we build an understanding of how the principles of self-esteem psychology can be applied in psychotherapy, and to our schools, organizations and social institutions of every kind. Recently I found myself reflecting on the day, nearly -fles no seton tsrif ym etorw I nehw ,oga sedaced ruof esteem. It was 1954 and I was twenty-four years old, ydaerla dna ytisrevinU kroY weN ta ygolohcysp gniyduts ix X Nathaniel Branden The Power Of Self-Esteem XI with a small private practice. The notes were n-soetu qf odnra p sueubs-si eht sserdda ot troffe rojam tsrif yM lication but simply to help clarify my thoughts. I wrote: tions self-esteem presented, The Psychology of Self- Esteem, was written during the 1960s and published in I'm beginning to think that gthnei osgin gwleo nm ossit tiim tpaohrtta ynat sk eoyt tdouorp dna yppah ma I( .9691 human motivation is self-esteem. Yet no one seems to b)e.gnitnirp ht72 sti ni gnorts :si dnatsrednu ot tnaw I tahW .ti tuoba gniklat ro gnitirw sa meetse-fles taht s0891 eht ni ylno saw ti yllarutluC (a) What is self-esteem? ni raeppa ot nigeb skoob did ylno toN .erif thguac cipot a ?no dneped ti seod tahW )b( dna mret eht ot ecnerefer edam taht srebmun gnisaercni (c) Why does its presence or absence make such an enor- elaborated on it to varying extents, but more scientific mous difference in people's lives? -noc on llits si ereht ,revewoH .gniraeppa nageb seiduts (d) How can 1 prove it? .snaem mret eht tahw tuoba susnes ton dluoc eno ,setatS detinU eht ni ,s0891 etal eht yB When I first went to the library in search of informa- turn the television on without hearing things like, "When tion about self-esteem, almost none was to be found. The he didn't show up for our date, my self-esteem was shat- indexes of books on psychology did not mention the term. tered!" or "How could you let him treat you like that? Sigmund Freud had suggested that low "self-regard" was Where's your self-esteem?" In a popular historical film caused by a child's discovery that he or she could not have drama about love and seduction among French aristocracy, sexual intercourse with the mother or father, which re- we heard the anachronism of one character saying to an- ton did I ".gnihton od nac I" :gnileef sselpleh eht ni detlus tnemom tsrif eht morf uoy detnaw I" ,ekil gnihtemos rehto find this persuasive or illuminating as an explanation. I saw you. My self-esteem demanded it." Alfred Adler suggested that everyone started out with If once the challenge was to gain public understanding feelings of inferiority, caused, first, by bringing some phys- of the importance of self-esteem, today the danger is that ical liability or "organ inferiority" into the world and, sec- emoceb seod aedi eht fI .dezilaivirt emoceb thgim aedi eht ond, by the fact that everyone else (that is, grown-ups or trivialized, the tragedy is that people will then lose the ,sdrow rehto nI .regnorts dna reggib saw )sgnilbis redlo understanding of its importance. erutam demrof yltcefrep nrob ton era ew taht si esruc ruo .rehtie ,lufpleh siht dnif ton did I .stluda The Importance Of A Precise Definition ni tub ,meetse-fles tuoba etorw stsylanaohcysp wef A -noc eht fo gnidnatsrednu ym morf tnereffid yrev smret rehtona gniyduts erew yeht fi sa tsomla saw ti taht os ,tpec gninaem tcaxe na sah meetse-fles taht gnidnatsrednU subject. is important. It would be unwise to dismiss definitions as Xll nednarB leinahtaN meetsE-fleS fO rewoP ehT Xlll mere semantics or a concern with exactitude as pedantry. I, who for the time have staked my all on being a psychol- The value of a precise definition is that it allows us to ogist, am mortified if others know much more psychology ,srehto lla morf ytilaer fo tcepsa ralucitrap a hsiugnitsid -ongi tsessorg eht ni wollaw ot detnetnoc ma I tuB .I naht so that we can think about it and work with it with clarity fo esnes on em evig ereht seicneicifed yM .keerG fo ecnar sdneped meetse-fles tahw wonk ot hsiw ew fI .sucof dna personal humiliation at all. Had I 'pretensions' to be a linguist, it would have been just the reverse .... With no on, how to nurture it in our children, support it in schools, attempt there can be no failure; with no failure no humil- encourage it in organizations, strengthen it in psycho- yleritne sdneped dlrow siht ni gnileef-fles ruo oS .noitai tahw wonk ot deen ew ,sevlesruo ni ti poleved ro ,ypareht on what we back ourselves to be and do. It is determined ew tegrat a tih ot ylekilnu era eW .ta gnimia era ew ylesicerp -ilaitnetop desoppus ruo ot seitilautca ruo fo oitar eht yb cannot see. -imoned eht era snoisneterp ruo hcihw fo noitcarf a ;seit tpoda ew snaem eht ,eugav si meetse-fles fo aedi ruo fI ,suht :sseccus ruo rotaremun eht dna rotan -fles rof msaisuhtne ruo fI .sseneugav siht tcelfer lliw esteem is not matched by appropriate intellectual rigor, Success we run the risk not only of failing to produce worthwhile Self-esteem = Pretensions .dleif eht gnitidercsid fo osla tub ,stluser sesoporp dleif eht ni retirw yreve tsomla ,yletanutrofnU Such a fraction may be increased as well by diminishing si sihT .snaem meetse-fles tahw fo noitinifed tnereffid a .rotaremun eht gnisaercni yb sa rotanimoned eht one of the problems with the research. Different charac- The first thing James is telling us about himself is that -loc era lla tub ,derusaem gnieb era setubirtta ro scitsiret ot serapmoc eh llew woh no meetse-fles sih sesab eh lectively called "self-esteem." Let us examine a few repre- sih hctam nac esle eno on fI .dleif nesohc sih ni srehto sentative definitions to clarify further my own approach. expertise, his self-esteem is satisfied. If someone else sur- su gnillet si eH .detatsaved si meetse-fles sih ,mih sessap ycrem eht ta meetse-fles sih gnicalp si eh esnes a ni taht meetsE-fleS enifeD oT tpmettA tseilraE of others. In his professional life, this gives him a vested mih sevig ti ;sroirefni yb dednuorrus gnieb ni tseretni ,semaJ mailliW si ygolohcysp naciremA fo "rehtaf" ehT reason to fear talent rather than welcome, admire, and and in his Principles of Psychology, originally published in take pleasure in it. This is not a formula for healthy self- enifed ot fo wonk I tpmetta tseilrae eht dnif ew ,0981 .yteixna rof noitpircserp a tub meetse self-esteem: -ilov ruo edistuo rotcaf yna ot meetse-fles ruo eit oT si ,srehto fo snoitca ro seciohc eht sa hcus ,lortnoc lanoit XIV Nathaniel Branden The Power Of Self-Esteem XV sevlesmeht egduj elpoep ynam os tahT .hsiugna etivni ot -ulavni sniamer stnerap fo noitubirtnoc eht no hcraeser .ydegart rieht si yaw siht tsuj :setirw eH .elba If "self-esteem equals success divided by pretensions/' then, as James points out, self-esteem can equally be pro- By self-esteem we refer to the evaluation which the indi- -erp s'eno gnirewol ro sseccus s'eno gnisaercni yb detcet ot drager htiw sniatniam yliramotsuc dna sekam laudiv himself. It expresses an attitude of approval or disap- -on ot seripsa ohw nosrep a taht snaem sihT .snoisnet laudividni eht hcihw ot tnetxe eht setacidni dna ,lavorp thing, neither in work nor in character, and achieves it dna ,lufsseccus ,tnacifingis ,elbapac eb ot flesmih seveileb and a person of high accomplishment and high character worthyn I. short, self-esteea m spi ersonal judgmenfot are equals in self-esteem. I do not believe that this is an laudividni eht sedutitta eht ni desserpxe si taht ssenihtrow idea at which anyone could have arrived by paying atten- .flesmih drawot sdloh taht wol os snoitaripsa htiw elpoeP .dlrow laer eht ot noit -noc ton era ylsseltroffe dna ylsseldnim meht teem yeht Relative to James, this formulation represents a great .gnieb-llew lacigolohcysp rieht rof suoucips ruo tahw ot yltcerid erom hcum skaeps tI .drawrof pets dna sdradnats lanosrep ruo ot pu evil ew llew woH experience of self-esteem is. Yet there are questions it values (which James unfortunately calls "pretensions") .derewsnanu sevael dna sesiar fo eulav ehT .meetse-fles ruo no gniraeb a sah ylraelc "Capable" of what? All of us are capable in some areas James' discussion is that it draws attention to this fact. and not in others. Capable relative to whatever we under- But it is a fact that cannot properly be understood in a -nimid ecnetepmoc etauqeda fo kcal yna tsum nehT ?ekat erew seulav dna sdradnats ruo fo tnetnoc eht fi sa ,muucav ish self-esteem? I do not think Coopersmith would want -uen eht naht devlovni erew erom gnihton dna tnavelerri to suggest this, but the implication is left hanging. ssel si alumrof sih ,yllaretiL .sesoporp semaJ alumrof lart ni tnacifingiS ?naem siht seod tahw — "tnacifingiS" a definition of self-esteem than a statement concerning what way? Significant in the eyes of others? Which oth- how he believes the level of self-esteem is determined, ?sdradnats tahw yb tnacifingiS ?sre .enoyreve ni tub ,slaudividni etanutrofnu emos ni ton "Successful" — does this mean worldly success? Finan- htiw sseccuS ?sseccus laicoS ?sseccus reeraC ?sseccus laic regard to what? Note he is not saying that self-esteem noitubirtnoC s'htimsrepooC yelnatS contains the idea that success (in principle) is appropriate; gniees fo aedi eht sniatnoc meetse-fles taht gniyas si eh -natS si meetse-fles no nettirw skoob tseb eht fo enO oness easluf ccess— fwul hics ihe ntirely diffed rentarnot u- ley Coopersmith's The Antecedents of Self-Esteem. His blesome in its implications. xvi Nathaniel Branden The Power Of Self-Esteem xvn "Worthy" — of what? Happiness? Money? Love? Any- Self-esteem is defined as: Appreciating my own worth thing the individual desires? My sense is that Coopersmith and importance and having the character to be accountable would mean by "worthy" pretty much what I spell out in for myself and to act responsibly toward others. my own definition in the preface to this book, but he does In this definition, we find the same lack of specificity as not say so. in the other definitions — "worth and importance" with regard to what? There is another problem with the Task Force state- More Recent Attempts To Define Self-Esteem ment: inserting into the definition what is obviously meant to be a basic source of healthy self-esteem (that is, being Another definition is offered by Richard L. Bednar, M. accountable for oneself and acting responsibly toward Gawain Wells and Scott R. Peterson in their book Self- others). A definition of a psychological state is meant to Esteem: Paradoxes and Innovations in Clinical Theory and Practice: tell us what a state is, not how one gets there. Did the people who offered this definition want us to understand Parenthetically, we define self-esteem as a subjective and that if we don't act responsibly toward others, we won't endearing sense of realistic self-approval. It reflects how possess healthy self-esteem? If so, they are probably right, the individual views and values the self at the most funda- mental levels of psychological experiencing .... Funda- but is that part of the definition — or is it a different mentally, then, self-esteem is an enduring and affective issue? (Almost certainly such a definition is influenced by sense of personal value based on accurate self-perception. "political" rather than scientific considerations — to reassure people that champions of self-esteem are not "Approval" — with regard to what? Everything about fostering petty, irresponsible "selfishness.") the self from physical appearance to actions to intellectual Finally there are those in the self-esteem movement functioning? We are not told. "Views and values the self" who announce that "self-esteem means 'I am capable — with regard to what issues or criteria? "An enduring and lovable.'" and affective sense of personal value" — what does this Again we must ask, "'Capable' of what?" I am a great mean? On the other hand, what I like in this formulation skier, a brilliant lawyer, and a first-rate chef. However, I is the observation that genuine self-esteem is reality based. don't feel competent to assess independently the moral One of the most widely publicized definitions of self- values my mother taught me. I feel, Who am I to know? esteem is given in Toward A State of Esteem: The Final Report In such a case, am I "capable"? Do I have self-esteem? of the California Task force To Promote Self and Personal and As to "lovable" — yes, feeling lovable is one of the Social Responsibility: characteristics of healthy self-esteem. So is feeling worthy

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