Book Reviews

The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden -Book Notes, Summary, and Review

19. The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem - Nathaniel Branden

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Rating: 6/10

Date of reading: 11th – 26th of May, 2017

Description: The six pillars of self-esteem are: living consciously, self-acceptance, self-responsibility, self-assertiveness, living purposefully, and personal integrity

 

My notes:

 

Introduction

 

“In essence, the book consists of my answers to four questions: What is self-esteem? Why is self-esteem important? What can we do to raise the level of our self-esteem? What role do others play in influencing our selfesteem?” ( :9)

“self-esteem one’s pretense at it). In other ~or words, all the famous “defenses” that Freud identified can be understood as efforts to protect self-esteem.” ( :12)

“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.” ( :13)

“Commenting on the urgent need for education in self-esteem, a visiting Russian scholar remarked to me, “Not only are our people without any tradition of entrepreneurship, but our managers have absolutely no grasp of the idea of personal responsibility and accountability that the average American manager takes for granted. And you know what a gigantic problem passivity and envy is here. The psychological changes we need may be even more formidable than the political or economic changes.”” ( :14)

 

PART I – Self-Esteem:
Basic Principles

 

“confidence our ability to think, confidence in our ability to cope 1. in with the basic challenges of life; and . 2. confidence in our right to be successful and happy, the feeling of being worthy, deserving, entitled to assert our needs and wants, achieve our values, and enjoy the fruits of our efforts.” ( :18)

“In turn, it is directly affected by how we act. Causation flows in both directions. There is a continuous feedback loop between our actions in the world and our self-esteem. The level of our self-esteem influences how we act, and how we act influences the level of our selfesteem.” ( :18)

“If I respect myself and require that others deal with me respectfully, I send out signals and behave in ways that increase the likelihood that others will respond appropriately. When they do, I am reinforced and confirmed in my initial belief. If I lack self-respect and consequently accept discourtesy, abuse, or exploitation from others as natural, I unconSciously transmit this, and some people will treat me at my selfestimate. When this happens, and I submit to it, my self-respect deteriorates still more.” ( :19)

“Healthy self-esteem correlates with rationality, realism, intuitiveness, creativity, independence,flexibility, ability to manage change, willingness to admit (and correct) mistakes, benevolence, and cooperativeness. Poor self-esteem correlates with irrationality, blindness to reality, rigidity, fear of the new and unfamiliar, inappropriate conformity or inappropriate rebelliousness, defensiveness, overcompliant or” ( :19)

“5 SfLf-f5THffi: ORSIC PRlnCIPLH overcontrolling behavior, and fear of or hostility toward others.” ( :20)

“The higher our self-esteem, the more open, honest, and appropriate our communications are likely to be, because we believe our thoughts have value and therefore we welcome rather than fear clarity.” ( :20)

“This is one of the reasons . why attempts at relationships so often fail-not because the vision of passionate or romantic love is intrinsically irrational, but because the selfesteem needed to support it is absent.” ( :22)

“A man falls in love, the woman returns his feeling, and they marry. But nothing she can do is ever enough to make him feel loved for longer than a moment; he is insatiable. However, she is so committed to him that she perseveres. When at last she convinces him that she really loves him and he is no longer able to doubt it, he begins to wonder whether he set his standards too low. He wonders whether she is really good enough for him. Eventually he leaves her, falls in love with another woman, and the dance begins again.” ( :23)

“or I’m killing my mother or father by being happier than they ever were, or life is not like this, or people will be envious and hate me, or happiness is only an illusion, or nobody else happy so why should I be? is” ( :25)

“When we are moved primarily by fear, sooner or later we precipitate the very calamity we dread. If we fear condemnation, we behave in ways that ultimately elicit disapproval. If we fear anger, eventually we make people angry.” ( :27)

“”In fact, a person’s image of the future may be a better predictor of future attainment than his past performances.”2 What we make an effort” ( :28)

“SHF-fSlUffi: lHE IffiffiUnf SYSTfffi OF consCIOUSnfSS 15 to learn and what we achieve is based, at least in part, on what we think is possible and appropriate to us.” ( :29)

“That it makes an essential contribution to the life process . • mal and healthy development. That it has survival value.” ( :31)

“The question is sometimes asked, “Is it possible to have too much selfesteem?” No, it is not; no more than it is possible to have too much physical health” ( :33)

“health or too powerful an immune system. Sometimes selfesteem is confused with boasting or bragging or arrogance; but such traits reflect not too much self-esteem, but too little; they reflect a lack of self-esteem.” ( :33)

“Their joy is in being who they are, not in being better than someone else.” ( :33)

“If my aim is to prove I am “enough,” the project goes on to injinity-because the battle was already lost on the day I conceded the issue was debatable.” ( :34)

“What is far more certain is that it undercuts the capacity for satisfaction. This is a painful reality well known to many high achievers. “Why,” a brilliantly successful businessman said to me, “is the pain of my failures so much more intense and lasting than the pleasure of my successes, even though there have been so many more successes than failures? Why is happiness so fleeting and mortification so enduring?”” ( :34)

“If my aim is to prove I am “enough,” the project goc:;s on to infinitybecause the battle was already lost on the day I conceded the issue was debatable. So it is always “one more” victory-one more promotion, one more sexual conquest, one more company, one more piece of jewelry, a larger house, a more expensive car, another award-yet the void within remains unfilled.” ( :35)

“This enterprise is doomed to failure. An ego, in the mature and healthy sense, is precisely what they have failed to attain. They dream of giving away what they do not possess. No one can successfully bypass the need for self-esteem.” ( :35)

“The greater the number of choices and decisions we need to make at a conscious level, the more urgent our need for self-esteem.” ( :38)

“If we lack adequate self-esteem, the amount of choice offered to us today can be frightening, something like the anxiety of a Soviet citizen on first encountering an American supermarket. And just as some visitors elected to run back to the “security” of a dictatorship, some of us seek” ( :38)

“SHf-ESTHm : THf Immunf SHSHm Of consCiousnESS 2S escape in the “security” of cults, or religious fundamentalism, or “correct” political, social, or cultural subgroups, or brain-destroying substances. Neither our upbringing nor our education may have adequately prepared us for a world with so many options and challenges. This is why the issue of self-esteem has become so urgent.” ( :39)

“Self-efficacy means confidence in the functioning of my mind, in my ability to think, understand, learn, choose, and make decisions; confidence in my ability to understand the facts of reality that fall within the sphere of my interests and needs; self-trust; self-reliance. Self-respect means assurance of my value; an affirmative attitude toward my right to live and to be happy; comfort in appropriately asserting my thoughts, wants, and needs; the feeling that joy and fulfillment are my natural birthright.” ( :40)

“right use of our consciousness not The Is automatic, not “wired in” nature. Is by” ( :43)

“It expresses itself in the comfort one experiences in giving and receiving compliments, expressions of affection, appreciation, and the like. expresses itself in an openness to criticism and a comfort about It acknowledging mistakes, because one’s self-esteem is not tied to an image of “being perfect.”” ( :57)

“expresses itself in the fact that feelings of anxiety or insecurity, if they It appear, will be less likely to intimidate or overwhelm, since accepting” ( :57)

“44 SHf-ESIHffi: URSIC PRinCIPLES . them, managing them, and rising above them rarely feel impossibly difficult.” ( :58)

“Its guide is the law of noncontradiction-nothing can be true and not true (A and non-A)” ( :59)

“Peters and Waterman’s In Search ojExcellence, where “rationality” is characterized in’ this way and then criticized.” ( :59)

“Commenting on the admonition to love thy neighbor as thyself, longshoreman-philosopher Eric Hoffer remarks somewhere that the problem is that this is precisely what people do: Persons who hate themselves hate others. The killers of the world, literally and figuratively, are not known to be in intimate or loving relationship to their inner selves.” ( :62)

“If we face the basic problems of life with an attitude of “Who am I to know? Who am I to judge? Who am I to decide?” -or is dangerous to “It be conscious”-or is futile to try to think or understand”-we are “It undercut at the outset. A mind does not struggle for that which it regards as impossible or undesirable.” ( :63)

“We submit to feelings of psychological determinism. We tell ourselves we are powerless. We are rewarded for doing so, in that we do not have to take risks or awaken from our passivity.” ( :64)

“The base and motor of poOr self-esteem is not confidence but fear. Not to live, but to escape the terror of life, is the fundamental goal. Not creativity, but safety, is the ruling desire. And what is sought from others is not the chance to experience real contact but an escape from moral values, a promise to be forgiven, to be accepted, on some level to be taken care of.” ( :64)

“can project an image of assurance and poise that I fools almost everyone and yet secretly tremble with a sense of my inadequacy.” ( :65)

“To attain “success” without attaining positive self-esteem is to be condemned to feeling like an impostor anxiously awaiting exposure.” ( :66)

“direction except within, and so they fail in their search. In this book we shall .see that positive self-esteem is best understood as a spiritual attainment, that is, as a victory in the evolution of consciousness. When we begin to understand self-esteem in this way, we appreciate the foolishness of believing that if we can only manage to make a positive impression on others we will then enjoy good self-regard. We will stop telling ourselves: If only I get one more promotion-if only I become a wife and mother-if only I am perceived to be a good provider-if only I can afford a bigger car-if I can write one more book-acquire one more company-one more lover-one more award-one more acknowledgment of my “selflessness” -then I will really feel at peace with myself.” ( :67)

“That which we call “genius” has a great deal to do with independence, courage, and daring-a great deal to do with nerve. Thats is one reason we admire it. In the literal sense, such “nerve” cannot be taught; but we can support the process by which it is learned.” ( :69)

 

PART II – Internal Sources of Self-Esteem

 

“We begin by asking, What must an individual do to generate and sustain self-esteem? What pattern of actions must be adopted? What is the responsibility of you and me as adults?” ( :71)

“We recognize that families in which reality is often denied and consciousness often punished place devastating obstacles to selfesteem; they create a nightmare world in which the child may feel that thinking is not only futile but dangerous.” ( :72)

“What determines the level of selfesteem is what the individual does, within the context of his or her knowledge and values.” ( :72)

“Research suggests that one of the best ways to have good self-esteem is to have parents who have good self-esteem and who model it, as is made clear in Stanley Coopersmith’s The Antecedents of Self-Esteem.” ( :73)

“Baffled psychologists and psychiatrists sometimes describe this group as “the invulnerables.”l” ( :74)

“We must become what we wish to teach.” ( :75)

“There is a story I like to tell psychotherapy students. In India, when a family encounters a problem, they are not likely to consult a psychotherapist (hardly any are available); they consult the local guru. In one village there was a wise man who had helped this family more than once. One day the father and mother came to him, bringing their nine-year-old son, and the father said, “Master, our son is a wonderful boy and we love him very much. But he has a terrible problem, a weakness for sweets that is ruining his teeth and health. We have reasoned with him, argued with him, pleaded with him, chastised him-nothing works. He goes on consuming ungodly quantities of sweets. Can you help us?” To the father’s surprise, the guru answered, “Go away and come back in two weeks.” One does not argue with a guru, so the family obeyed. Two weeks later they faced him again, and the guru said, “Good. Now we can proceed.” The father asked, “Won’t you tell us, please, why you sent us away for two weeks. You have never done that before.” And the guru answered, “I needed the two weeks because I, too, have had a lifelong weakness for sweets. Until I had confronted and resolved that issue within myself, I was not ready to deal with your son. ” Not all psychotherapists like this story.” ( :76)

“Here are the six pillars of self-esteem: The practice of living consciously The practice of self-acceptance The practice of self-responsibility The practice of self-assertiveness The practice of living purposefully The practice of personal integrity” ( :78)

“Our mind is our basic tool of survival. Betray it and self-esteem suffers.” ( :80)

“We cannot feel competent and worthy while conducting our lives in a mental fog. Our mind is our basic tool of survival. Betray it and self-esteem suffers. The simplest form of this betrayal is the evasion of discomfiting facts. For example:” ( :80)

“To live consciously means to seek to be aware of everything that bears on our actions, purposes, values, and goals-to the best of our ability, whatever that ability may behave in accordance with ~and that which we see and know.” ( :81)

“Living consciously means more than seeing and knowing; it means acting on what one sees and knows.” ( :81)

“Living consciously is living responsibly toward reality. We do not necessarily have to like what we see, but we recognize that that which is, is, and that which is not, is not.” ( :83)

“Doing what am doing while am doing I I it.” ( :85)

“Or again, I hearthat physicists are struggling with a problem they find insurmountable (let us assume this is so); I interpret this to mean that reason and science have failed; I feel disheartened and disturbed, or elated and triumphant (depending on my other philosophical beliefs). In reality, all that established is that physicists say they are stuck on a is problem, The rest is what my mind makes of it, which may be rational or irrational, but which in either case says more about me than about external reality.” ( :86)

“external reality. To live consciously, I need to be sensitive to these distinctions. What I perceive, what I interpret it to mean, and how I feel about it are three separate questions” ( :86)

“A business leader who operates at a high level of consciousness plans for tomorrow’s market; a leader operating at a more modest level thinks in terms of today’s; a leader operating at a low level may not realize that he is still thinking in terms of yesterday·s.” ( :88)

“Living consciously implies that my first loyalty is to truth, not to making myself right. All of us are wrong some of the time, all of us make mistakes, but if we have tied our self-esteem (or our pseudo self-esteem) to being above error, or if we have become overattached to our own positions, we are obliged to shrink consciousness in misguided selfprotection. To find it humiliating to admit an error is a certain sign of flawed self-esteem.” ( :89)

“informatipn about Saturn to the teachings of Zen Buddhismand yet who are blind to the operations of the private universe within. The wreckage of their personal life is a monument to the magnitude of their unconsciousness concerning the internal world of the self. They deny and disown their needs, rationalize their emotions, intellectualize (or “spiritualize”) their behavior-” ( :91)

“I am not living consciously if my consciousness is used for everything but self-understanding.” ( :91)

“encounter with someone. Noticing patterns in my behavior that may not be serving me. Noticing what excites me and what drains me. Noticing whether the voice inside ~y head is truly my own or belongs to someone else-perhaps my mother.” ( :92)

“One of the forms that living unconsciously takes is obliviousness to the values guiding one’s actions and even indifference to the question. All of us sometimes draw mistaken or irrational conclusions from our experience on the basis of which we may form values harmful to our well-being. All of us absorb values from the world around us-from family, peers, and culture-and these values are not necessarily rational or supportive of our true interests; often, in fact, they are not.” ( :92)

“Still, if someone had said to me (or if I had somehow thought to say to myself), “If you were to bring a higher level of consciousness to ,your relationship with Barbara, and to do so steadily, day after day, what do you suppose might happen?” I have to wonder what I might have been led to face and come to grips with. To a mind that is receptive” ( :94)

“”If I bring a higher level of consciousness to my relationship with Barbara-” and then wrote six to ten endings as rapidly as I could” ( :94)

“The hard thing about staying fully conscious here isWrite six to ten endings as quickly as you can. Then try: The good thing about not being fully conscious here isThen try: If I were to stay more conscious hereThen: If I were to experiment with raising my consciousness 5 percent in this area-” ( :101)

“Whereas self-esteem is something we experience, self-acceptance is something we do.” ( :102)

“to keep moving. It is the voice of the life force. It is “selfishness,” in the noblest meaning of that word. If it goes silent, selfesteem is the first casualty.” ( :103)

“The willingness to experience and accept our feelings carries no implication that emotions are to have the last word on what we do. I may not be in the mood to work today; I can acknowledge my feelings, experience them, accept them-and then go to work. I will work with a clearer mind because I have not begun the day with selfdeception.” ( :104)

“”This is an expression of me, not necessarily an expression I like or admire, but an expression of me nonetheless, at least at the time it occurred.” It is the virtue of realism, that is, of respect for reality, applied to the self.” ( :104)

“Self-acceptance entails the idea of compassion, of being a friend to myself.” ( :106)

“Stand in front of a full-length mirror and look at your face and body. Notice your feelings as you do so. I am asking you to focus not on your clothes or your makeup but on you. Notice if this is difficult or makes you uncomfortable. good to do this exercise naked. It is” ( :107)

“In this case, let us say, the feeling, thought, or memory is so distressing and agitating that acceptance feels out of the question. We feel powerless not to block and contract. The .solution is not to try to resist our resistance. is not useful to try to block a block. Instead, we need It to do something more artful. If we cannot accept a feeling (or a thought ora memory), we should accept our resistance. In other words, start by accepting where we are. Be present to the now and experience it fully. If we stay with the resistance at a conscious level, it will usually begin to dissolve.” ( :111)

“Then I had him say “I refuseto accept my refusal to accept my anger,” which he plunged into ferociously. Then I had him say “But I am willing to accept my refusal to accept my refusal,” and he kept repeating it until he broke down and joined in the . laughter of the group. “If you can’t accept the experience, accept the resistance,” he said, and I answered, “Right. And if you can’t accept the resistance, accept your resistance to accepting the resistance. Eventually you’ll arrive at a point you can accept. Then you can move forward from there …. So, are you angry?”” ( :112)

“There is a paradox here (a paradox, not a contradiction): Acceptance of what is the precondition of change. And denial of what is leaves me is, stuck in it.” ( :113)

“As the philosopher Nietzsche wrote: ” ‘I did it,’ says memory. ‘I couldn’t have,’ says pride, and remains relentless. Eventually memory yields.”” ( :115)

“The greatest crime we commit against ourselves is not that we may deny and disown our shortcomings but that we deny and disown our greatness-because it frightens us.” ( :116)

“In stressing that we need to take responsibility for our life and happiness, I am not suggesting that a person never suffers through accident or through the fault of others, or that a person is responsible for everything that may happen to him or her. I do not support the grandiose notion that “I am responsible for every aspect of my existence and everything that befalls me.”” ( :121)

“In my twenties I formed an intense relationship with novelistphilosopher Ayn Rand. Over the course of eighteen years, our relationship passed through almost every form imaginable: from student and teacher to friends and colleagues to lovers and partners-and, ultimately, to adversaries. The story of this relationship is the dramatic centerpiece of Judgment Day. In the beginning and for some years, the relationship was nurturing, inspiring, valuable in many ways; I learned and grew enormously. But eventually it became constricting, toxic, destructive-a barrier to my further intellectual and psychological development.” ( :123)

“Often what people call “thinking” is merely recycling the opinions of others. So we can say that thinking independently-about our work, our relationships, the values that guide our life, the goals we set for ourselves-strengthens self-esteem. And healthy self-esteem results in a natural inclination to think independently.” ( :125)

“One of the most important of such moments is when the client grasps that no one coming. No one is coming to save me; no one is coming to is make life right for me; no one is corning to solve my problems. If I don’t do something, nothing is going to get better.” ( :128)

“A student protested, “But this isn’t a fair test. They’re shy, not used to speaking in front of people, so they sound strained.” I asked him to come to the front and say, simply, “Two and two make four.” He did so with complete ease and conviction. Then I asked him to say, “I have a right to exist.!’ He sounded tense, flippant, unconvincing. The class laughed. They understood. Standing in front of the class and saying two and two make four was not difficult. Asserting the right to exist was.” ( :130)

“Self-assertiveness means honoring my wants, needs, and values and seeking appropriate forms of their expression in reality.” ( :130)

“To hold values is not yet self-assertion, or just barely; to pursue them and stand by them in the world is. One of the great selfdelusions is to think of oneself as “a valuer” or “an idealist” while not pursuing one’s values in reality. To dream one’s life away is not selfassertion; to be able to say, at the end, “While my life was happening, I is. was the.re, I lived it,”” ( :132)

“It often takes courage to honor what we want and to fight for it. For many people, self-surrender and self-sacrifice are far easier. They do not reqUire the integrity and responSibility that intelligent selfishness requires.” ( :133)

“When we learn how,to be in an intimate relationship without abandoning our sense of self, when we learn how to be kind without being self-sacrificing, when we learn how to cooperate with others without betraying our standards and convictions, we are practicing selfassertiveness.” ( :135)

“In the end, I learned an invaluable lesson. I learned that surrenders of this kind do not work; they merely postpone confrontations that are inevitable and necessary. I learned that the temptation to self-betrayal can sometimes be worst with those about whom we care the most. I learned that no amount of admiration for another human being can justify sacrificing one’s judgment.” ( :139)

“Productivity is the act of supporting our existence by translating ‘our thoughts into reality, of ‘ setting our goals and working for their achievement, of bringing knowledge, goods, or services into existence.” ( :142)

“I cannot organize my behavior optimally if my goal is merely “to do my best.” The assignment is too vague. My goal needs to be: to exercise on the treadmill for thirty minutes four times a week; to complete my (precisely defined) task within ten days; to communicate to my team at our next meeting exactly what the project requires; to earn a specific sum of money in commissions by the end of the year; to achieve a specific market niche by a specific means by a specific target date.” ( :143)

“In intimate relationships, however, it is easy to imagine that “love” is enough, that happiness will just come, and if it doesn’t, this means we are wrong for each other. People rarely ask themselves, “If my goal is to have a successful relationship, what must I do? What actions are needed to create and sustain trust, intimacy, continuing self-disclosure, excitement, growth?”” ( :144)

“Like all virtues or practices that support self-esteem, self-discipline is a survival virtue-meaning that for human beings it is a requirement of the successful life process. One of the challenges of effective parenthood or effective teaching is to communicate a respect for the present that does not disregard the future, and a respect for the future that does not disregard the present. To master this balance is a challenge to all of us. It is essential if we are to enjoy the sense of being in control of our existence.” ( :145)

“consider the extraordinary statement made by psychiatrist Irvin D. Yalom in his Existential Psychotherapy.” ( :147)

“But this is not the same thing as saying that our achievements are the measure or grounds of our self-esteem. The root of our self-esteem is not our achievements but those internally generated practices that, among other things, make it possible for us to achieve–all the self-esteem virtues we are discussing here.” ( :148)

“Steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie once stated, “You can take away our factories, take away our trade, our avenues of transportation and our money-leave us with nothing but our organization-and in four years we could reestablish ourselves.” His point was that power lies in the source of wealth, not in the wealth; in the cause, not the effect. The same principle applies to the relationship between self-esteem and external achievements.” ( :148)

“When question of self-esteem is involved, the question to ask is: a Is this matter within my direct, volitional control? Or is it at least linked by a direct line of causality· to matters within my direct, volitional control? If it isn’t, it is irrelevant to self-esteem and should be perceived to be, however painful or even devastating the problem may be on other grounds. One day the teaching of this principle will be included in parents’ understanding of proper child-rearing. One day it will be taught in the schools.” ( :149)

“the “office shrink.” She did not notice that a large amount of her time was drained in activities for which she had not been hired. She became agitated when her performance appraisal reflected dissatisfaction with her work. Yet she found it difficult to change her pattern; the ego-gratification of “helping others” had become addictive.” ( :151)

“If don’t do something, nothing is going to change.” ( :152)

“One day, Devers said something that impressed me profoundly. “You are very kind, generous, and caring-when you stop long enough in what you are doing for it to occur to you. What you have never learned is the discipline of kindness. This means kindness that is not a matter of mood or convenience. means kindness as a basic way of It functioning. It is in you as a potential, but it doesn’t happen without consciousness and discipline, which perhaps you’ve never thought about.”” ( :153)

“When our behavior is congruent with our professed values, when ideals and practice match, we have integrity:” ( :155)

“When we bebave in ways tbat conflict wltb our jUdgment of wbat is appropriate, we lose face in our own eyes.” ( :156)

“There are people we know whom we trust and others we do not. If we ask ourselves the reason, we will see that congruence is basic. We trust congruency and are suspicious of incongruency. Studies disclose that many people in organizations do not trust those above them. Why? Lack of congruence. Beautiful mission statements unsupported by practice. The doctrine of respect for the individual disgraced in action. Slogans about customer service on the walls unmatched by the realities of daily business. Sermons about honesty mocked by cheating. Promises of fairness betrayed by favoritism.” ( :156)

“I gave a group of executives this sentence stem: If I want people to” ( :156)

“IHf PRHIICf Of PfRSOnRL InlfGRIIM 145 perceive me as trustworthy – . Here are typical endings: HI must keep my word”; H must be evenhanded in my dealings with everyone”; HI must walk my talk “; HI must ollow through on my commitments”; H must look after my people against the higher-ups”; must be consistent. “To any H executive who wishes to be perceived as trustworthy, there is no mystery about what is required.” ( :157)

“If I give sermons on honesty to my children yet lie to my friends and neighbors; ifl become righteous and indignant when people do not keep their commitments to me but disregard my commitments to others; if I preach a concern with quality but indifferently sell my customers shoddy goods; if I unload bonds I know to be falling in value to a client who trusts my honor; if I pretend to care about my staffs ideas when my mind is already made up; if I outmaneuver a colleague in the office and appropriate her achievements; if I ask for honest feedback and penalize the employee who disagrees with me; if I ask for pay sacrifices from others on the grounds of hard times and then give myself a gigantic bonus-I may evade my hypocrisy, I may produce any number of rationalizations, but the fact remains I launch an assault on my self-respect that no rationalization will dispeL” ( :157)

“Qrly I will know I am a liar; only I will know I deal unethically with people who trust me; only I will know I have no intention of honoring my promise. The implication is that my judgment is unimportant and that only the judgment of others counts.” ( :158)

“If I bring 5 percent more integrity into my life -. As we :went around the circle, here are the endings that were expressed: If I bring 5 percent more integrity into my life-” ( :158)

“The idea of Original Sin is anti-self-esteem its by very nature.” ( :160)

“The protection of self-esteem requires a clear understanding of the limits of personal responsibility. Where there is no power, there can be no responsibility, and where there is no responsibility, there can be no reasonable self-reproach. Regret, yes; guilt, no.” ( :160)

“We may accept or absorb a code of values that does violence to our nature and needs. For example, certain religious teachings implicitly or explicitly damn sex, damn pleasure,damn the body, damn ambition,” ( :161)

“ISO InlfRnHL SOURCH OF HLF-Hlum damn material success, damn (for all practical purposes) the enjoyment of life on earth. If children are indoctrinated with these teachings, what will the practice of “integrity” mean in their lives? Some elements of “hypocrisy” may be all that keeps them alive.” ( :162)

“At the thOUght of going against my parents’ values-” ( :162)

“If I were to think for myself about the values I want to live by-” ( :162)

“Hard-working, ambitious businessmen who had been encouraged at the start of their careers to be productive and industrious but who, when they finally committed the sin of succeeding, were confronted with the disorienting biblical pronouncement that it shall be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” ( :163)

“Many years ago I was married to a woman I was very attached to but no longer loved; my romance with Ayn Rand was fading but not “officially” terminated. Both relationships were painfully unresolved when I met and fell passionately in love with a third woman I would later marry: Patrecia, who would die at the age of thirty-seven. For a long time my mind was a chaos of conflicting loyalties, and I handled things very badly. I did not tell the truth to my wife or to Ayn as soon as I could have-never mind the reasons. “Reasons” do not alter facts. Lies do not work.” ( :167)

“”Lying gave you a bad feeling,” I remarked. “Yes, so I filled it out truthfully, and then, later, I wondered if I wasn’t a sucker.” “You wondered, why be concerned with my integrity if other people aren’t concerned with theirs?” “Hell, no, if I’d thought about it like that, I’d-” He broke off and stared thoughtfully into space. “What?” “What you just said is what it all really comes to, doesn’t it?”” ( :168)

“If we live in a society where business associates, corporate heads, political figures, religious leaders, and other public personalities hold themselves to high standards of morality, it is relatively easier for an average person to practice integrity than in a society where corruption, cynicism, and amorality are the norm. In the latter kind of society, the individual is likely to feel that the quest for personal integrity is futile and unrealistic-unless he or she is extraordinarily independent and autonomous.” ( :169)

“If integrity is a source of self-esteem, then it is also, and never more’ so than today, an expression of self-esteem.” ( :169)

“To the extent that the six practices are integrated into our daily life, selfesteem is supported and strengthened. To the extent that they are not, self-esteem is undermined and subverted. This is the central thesis of Part II thus fa.r.” ( :172)

“our minds as explicit propositions. They may be so implicit in our thinking that we are hardly aware of them or not aware of them at all. Yet they Clearly lie behind our actions.” ( :173)

“Beliefs About the Self That Support Self-Esteem” ( :173)

“If people treat me discourteously or disrespectfully, it is a reflection on them, not on me. is only a reflection on me if I accept their treatment of It me as right.” ( :173)

“If someone I like does not return my feeling, it may be disappointing or even painful, but it is not a reflection on my personal worth.” ( :173)

“I am better selVed by knowing what is true than by making myself “right” at the expense of the facts. If I persevere, I can understand the things I need to understand.” ( :174)

“I am better selVed by holding my values consciously than uncon-” ( :174)

“THE PHIL050PHH Of SHf-f5THffi 163 sciously-and by examining them rather than by holding them uncritically as not -to-be-questioned “axioms.”” ( :175)

“I have a right to express myself in appropriate ways in appropriate contexts. I have a right to stand up for my convictions. I have a right to treat my values and feelings as important. serves my interests for others to see and know who I am. It” ( :176)

“My self-esteem is more valuable than any short-term rewards for its betrayal.” ( :177)

“In principle, consciousness is reliable; knowledge is attainable; reality is knowable.” ( :177)

 

PART III – External Influences:
Self and Others

 

“is an old and excellent adage that effective parenting consists first of It giving a child roots (to grow) and then wings (to fly). The security of a firm base-and the self-confidence one day to leave it. Children do not grow up in a vacuum. They grow up in a social context.” ( :181)

“Coopersmith discovered no significant correlations with such factors as family wealth, education, geographic living area, social class, Father’s occupation, or always having Mother at home.” ( :182)

“Specifically, he found five conditions associated with high self-esteem in children:” ( :182)

“The child experiences total acceptance of thoughts, feelings, and 1. the value of his or her person. 2. The child operates in a context of clearly defined and enforced limits that are fair, nonoppressive, and negotiable. The child is not given unrestricted “freedom.” Consequently, the child experiences a sense of” ( :182)

“nURIURlnG H SHF-fSlHffi 173 CHILO’S securitY; there is a clear basis for evaluating his or her behavior. Further, the limits generally entail high standards, as well as confidence that the child will be able to meet them. Consequently, the child usually does. 3. The child experiences respect for his or her dignity as a human being. The parents do not use violence or humiliation or ridicule to control and manipulate. The parents take the child’s needs and wishes seriously, whether or not they can accede to them in a particular instance. The parents are willing negotiate family rules within caretQ fully drawn limits. In other words, authority, but not authoritarianism, is operating.” ( :183)

“4. The parents uphold high standards and high expectations in terms. of behavior and performance. Their attitude is not “anything goes.” They have both moral and performance expectations that they convey in a respectful, benevolent, and nonoppressive manner; the child is challenged to be the best he or she can be. 5. The parents themselves tend to enjoy a high level of self-esteem. They model (what I call) self-efficacy and self-respect. The child sees living examples of that which he or she needs to learn. After carefully explaining such antecedents of self-esteem as his research could reveal, Coopersmith goes on to observe: “We should note that there are virtually no parental patterns of behavior or parental attitudes that are common to all parents of children with high self-esteem.”” ( :183)

“The greater a cbild’s terror, and tbe earlier it is experienced, tbe barder tbe task of building a strong and bealthy sense of self.” ( :185)

“A thirty-four-year-old professor of philosophy, Edgar said his earliest memories were of being forced to stand on the bed while his father-a distinguished and respected physician in his community-beat him violently with a strap. “My cries could never make him stop. was as if It he were insane. He could destroy me and there was nothing I could do. That feeling has never left me. I’m thirty-four years old and I still feel that in the face of any kind of danger I have no means of defending myself. I’m afraid. I’ve always been afraid. I can’t imagine who I would be without my fear.”” ( :185)

“Love is not felt to be real when it is always tied to performance, tied to living up to Mother’s or Father’s expectations, and is withdrawn from time to time as a means of manipulating obedience and conformity. Love is not felt to be real when the child receives subtle or unsubtle messages to the effect, “You are not enough.”” ( :187)

“(As child psychologist Haim Ginott used to observe, if a visiting guest aCcidentally spills a drink, we do not say, “Oh, you’re so sloppy! What’s the matter with you?” But then why do we think such statements are appropriate for our children, who are much more important to us than the visitor? Surely it would be more appropriate to say to the child something like, “You’ve spilled your drink. Will you get some paper towels from the kitchen?”)” ( :189)

“Parents need to be informed: “Be careful what you say to your children. They may agree with you.” Before calling a child “stupid” or “clumsy” or “bad” or “a disappointment,” consider the question, “Is this how I want my child to experience him or herself?”” ( :189)

“If a child says, unhappily, “I didn’t get the part in my school play,” and Mother answers, empathically, “That must hurt,” the child feels visible. What does a child feel if Mother answers sharply, “Do you think you’ll always get what you want in life?” If a child bursts into the house, full of joy and excitement, and Mother says, smiling, “You’re happy today,” the child feels visible. What does a child feel if Mother screams, “Do you have to make so much noise? You’re so selfish and inconsiderate! What is the matter with you?” If a child struggles to build a tree house in the backyard, and Father says, admiringly, “Even though it’s hard, you’re sticking with it,” the child feels visible. What does a child feel if Father says, impatiently, “God, can’t you do anything?”” ( :191)

“When we convey love, appreciation, empathy, acceptance, respect, we make a child visible. When we convey indifference, scorn, condemnation, ridicule, we drive the child’s self into the lonely underground of invisibility” ( :192)

“Marcia, age twelve, helped the teacher rearrange the books in the class library. The teacher avoided personal praise. (“You did a good job. You are a hard worker. You are a good librarian.”) Instead she described what Marcia accomplished: “The books are all in order now. It’ll be easy for the children to find any book they want. It was a difficult job. But you did it. Thank you.” The teacher’s wordS of recognition allowed Marcia to make her own inference. “My teacher likes the job I did. I am a good worker.”” ( :194)

“Catch a child doing something right and convey pleasure at the sight of it. Trust the child to draw the appropriate conclusions. That is the simplest statement of effective reinforcement.” ( :195)

“No good purpose is ever served by assaulting a child’s self-esteem . . This is the first rule of effective criticism. We do not inspire better behavior by impugning a child’s worth, intelligence, morality, character, intentions, or psychology. No one was ever made “good” by being informed he or she was “bad.” (Nor by being told, “You’re just like [someone already viewed as reprehensible].”) Attacks on self-esteem tend to the likelihood that the unwanted behavior will happen increas~ again-“Since I am bad, I will behave badly.”” ( :196)

“If a child is chastised for making a mistake, or ridiculed, humiliated, or punished-or if the parent steps in impatiently and says, “Here, let me do it!” -he or she cannot feel free to struggle and learn. natural process A of growth is sabotaged. To avoid mistakes becomes a higher priority than to master new challenges.” ( :198)

“Children need limits and feel anxious in their absence. This is one of the reasons they test limits-to be certain they are there. They need to know that someone is flying the plane. Overly “permissive” parents tend to produce highly anxious children. By this I mean parents who back away from any leadership role; who treat all family members as equal not only in dignity but also in knowledge and authority; and who strive to teach no values and uphold no standards for fear of “imposing” their on their children. A client “bias~s” once said to me, “My mother would have thought it ‘undemocratic’ to tell me that getting pregnant at the age of thirteen is not a good idea. Do you know how terrifying it is to grow up in a house where no one acts like they know what’s true or right?” When children are offered rational values and standards, self-esteem is nurtured. When they are not, self-esteem is starved.” ( :203)

“Convey that the child isnot “enough.” Chastise the child for expressing “unacceptable” feelings. Ridicule or humiliate the.child. Convey that the child’s thoughts or feelings have no value or importance. Attempt to control the child by shame or guilt. Overprotect the child and ·consequently obstruct normal learning and increasing self-reliance. Underprotect the child and consequently obstruct normal ego development.” ( :204)

“Raise a child with no rules at all, and thus no supporting structure; or else rules that are contradictOlY, bewildering, undiscussable, and oppressive-in either case inhibiting normal growth. Deny a child’s perception of reality and implicitly encourage the child to doubt his or her mind. Terrorize a child with phySical violence or the threat of it, thus instilling acute fear as an enduring characteristic at the child’s core. Treat a child as a sexual object. Teach that the child is bad, unworthy, or sinful by nature.” ( :205)

“aspects of their family life or other aspects of their world. They somehow know, This is not all there is. They hold the belief that a better alternative exists somewhere and that someday they will jind their way to it. They persevere in that idea. They somehow know Mother is not all women, Father is not a/I men, this family does not exhaust the possibilities of human relationships-there is life beyond this neighborhood. This does not spare them suffering in the present, but it allows them not to be destroyed by it. Their strategic detachment does not guarantee that they will never know feelings of powerlessness, but it helps them not to be stuck there.” ( :210)

“achieved by reciting “I am special” every day, or by stroking one’s own face while saying love me,” or by ,”I identifying self-worth with membership in a particular group (“ethnic pride”) rather than with personal character.” ( :214)

“The aim must be to teach children how to think, how to recognize logical fallacies, how to be creative, and how to learn.” ( :218)

“We are thinking beings and we are creative beings. Recognition of this fact needs to be at the center of any educational philosophy. When we place the value of these functions at the forefront of our curriculum, we nurture self-esteem. Individual teachers and deSigners of curricula must ask themselves: . How does my work contribute to the process of young people becoming thinking, innovative, creative human beings?” ( :219)

“Teachers with high self-esteem are … more apt to help children develop problem-solving strategies than to give advice or deny the significance of what children· perceive to be problems. Such teachers build a sense of trust in students. They base their classroom control on understanding, joint cooperation and involvement, working through problems, caring, and mutual respect. This positive relationship allows children to learn and to grow in their confidence and ability to function independently.6” ( :220)

“Sometimes it can be difficult to go on believing in another person when that person seems not to believe in him or herself. Yet one of the greatest gifts a teacher can offer a student is the refusal to accept the student’s poor self-concept at face value, seeing through it to the deeper, stronger self that exists within if only as a potential. (This is accomplished, in part, by making the student aware of choices and options the student had not noted and by breaking problems down into smaller, more manageable units that fall within the student’s present competence and thus give him or her a base on which to build.) A teacher’s own selfesteem can make this task easier.” ( :221)

“instance, they see that their teacher has the same attitude and policy whether talking to a boy, a girl, a Caucasian, a black American, a Hispanic, or an Asian-they register the appropriate lesson, they perceive the teacher as having integrity, and their sense of safety and security is enhanced. On the other hand, favoritism (and disfavoritism) poisons a classroom atmosphere. encourages feelings of isolation and rejection It and diminishes children’s sense that this is a world with which they will be able to deal” ( :223)

“A teacher can think about rules in one of two ways. She or he can wonder: How can I make students do what needs to be done? Or: How can I inspire students to want to do what needs to be done?” ( :225)

“But as an exclusive or dominant policy it is psychologically disempowering. makes escape from pain more important than experiIt encing joy-which leads to (the contraction of thought self~contraction and feeling) rather than self-expression and self-development.” ( :225)

“Further, parents who accept certain teachings of religion are likely to convey the unfortunate notion that there are such things as “evil thoughts” or “evil emotions.” “It’s a sin to feel that!” The child may learn moral terror of his or her inner life.” ( :227)

“A teacher is in a position to teach children a rational respect for feelings coupled with an awareness that one can accept a feeling without having to be ruled by it.” ( :228)

“We can learn to own when we are afraid, and accept it, and (for instance) still go to the dentist when it is necessary to do so. We can learn to admit when we are angry, and talk about it, and not resort to fists. We can learn to recognize when we hurt, and own the feeling, and not put on a phony act of indifference.” ( :228)

“We can learn that we are accountable for what we choose to do, but that feelings as suchare neither moral nor immoral-they simply are.” ( :229)

“We know, for example, that the best relationships rest on a foundation of respect for self and respect for the other. We know that win-win (mutually beneficial) negotiations, in which both parties gain values, are superior to win-lose negotiations, in which one person’s gain is another’s loss (a theme, inCidentally, that is encountered more and more often in business literature). We know that dealing with people fairly and justly provides the security they need to give their best. We know that a spirit of benevolence, compassion, and mutual aidwithout self-sacrifice-serves the interests of everyone. We know that people who keep their word and honor their promises and commitments evoke trust and cooperation, and those who don’t, don’t. We know that winners look for solutions and losers look for someone to blame.” ( :230)

“Let us contrast more traditional ways of teaching with the kind of teaching that nurtures self-esteem by way of a set of comparisons. What we are comparing are the characteristics of the obedient student with those of the responsible student-the student who experiences “the locus of control” as external to self versus the student who experiences “the locus of control” as internal.” ( :233)

“5. Feels “I am my behavior” (and somebody ‘e1se probably made me this way).” ( :233)

“5. Knows “I am not my behavior, although I am responsible for how I behave.”” ( :233)

“On the one hand, he or she will be far less ready to sacrifice others in pursuit of personal goals. On the other hand, he or she will be far less willing to be sacrificed for the alleged greater good of some alleged higher value-that is, for someone else’s goals.” ( :235)

“The question, “What has your birth determined you to be?” was replaced by the question, “What have you made of yourself?” In other words, identity was no longer something one inherited but something one created.” ( :249)

“When the behavior of someone creates a problem, ask him or her to propose a solution: whenever possible, avoid handing down solutions but give the problem to the responsible party, thereby encouraging self-responsibility, self-assertiveness, and intensified awareness.” ( :261)

“Give your people the resources, information, and authority to do what you have asked them to do: remember that there can be no responsibility without power, and nothing so undermines morale as assigning the first without giving the second.” ( :261)

“Plan and budget appropriately for innovation: do not ask for people’s innovative best and then announce there is no money (or other resources), because the danger is that creative enthusiasm , will dry up and be replaced by demoralization.” ( :262)

“I doubt that there is one principle listed above that thoughtful executives are not aware of-in the abstract. The challenge is to practice them consistently and weave them into the fabric of daily procedures.” ( :263)

“The primary function of a leader in a business enterprise is (1) to develop and persuasively convey a vision of what the organization is to accomplish, and (2) to inspire and empower all those who work for the organization to make an optimal contribution to the fulfillment of that vision and to experience that, in doing so, they are acting in alignment with their self-interest. The leader must be an inspirer and a persuader.” ( :263)

“Their smallest bits of behavior are noted and absorbed by those around the1TI, not necessarily consciously, and reflected via those they influence throughout the entire organization. If a leader has unimpeachable integrity, a standard is set that others feel drawn to follow. If a leader treats people with respectassociates, subordinates, customers, suppliers, shareholders-that tends to translate into company culture.” ( :264)

“Sometimes problems could be understood as consequences of the denial of poor self-esteem, that is, as defenses built against the reality of the problem-for example, controlling and manipulative behavior, obsessive-compulsive rituals, inappropriate aggressiveness, fear-driven sexuality, destructive forms of ambition-all aiming to produce some experience of efficacy, control, and personal worth. It seemed clear that problems that were manifestations of poor self-esteem were also contributors to the continuing deterioration of self-esteem.” ( :266)

“Carl Rogers made acceptance and respect the core of his approach to therapy, so powerful did he understand its impact to be.” ( :270)

“stand facing the group and say aloud, repeatedly, “The truth is, I’m actually highly intelligent.” Her voice choked and at first she could notdo it. Then I helped her to say it-and she began to weep. So I gave her the sentence stem: The bad thing about admitting my intelligence is-. Here were her first endings: My family will hate me. No one in my family is supposed to have a mind. My sisters and brothers will be jealous. I won’t belong anywhere. I’ll have to take responsibility for my life.” ( :272)

“the repression has functional utility; it has survival value; its intention is to make the child able to live more successfully-or at least to minimize pain. Or again, when we are young we may experience a good deal of hurt and rejection and develop a policy, in “self-protection,” to reject others first. This policy does not make for a happy life. And yet its intention is not to cause suffering but to reduce it. Survival strategies that do not serve our interests but in fact hurt us, but to which we nonetheless cling like life preservers in a stormy sea, are the ones psychologists label “neurotic.” The ones that serve our interests we properly label “good adaptations” -such as learning to walk, speak, think, and earn a living.” ( :274)

“Irrational fears almost inevitably have a negative effect on our sense of ourselves. Conversely, the elimination of irrational fears causes selfesteem to This is one of the basic tasks of therapy. rise.” ( :282)

“Or, if the client thinks of competence and worth only in terms of specific knowledge and skills, but not the underlying mental processes that make them possible, a deep feeling of inefficacy can coexist with any number of acquired abilities.” ( :284)

“ps skills but in one ability to tbink, make decisions, learn, and persevere in the face of difficulties,” ( :284)

“I suspect, is that no matter how “other directed” one may be theoretically, somewhere there is the implicit knowledge that the approval each of us needs is from within. When we are children, we are dependent on others for the satisfaction of most of our needs. Some children, are more independent than others, but no child can have the level of independence possible to an adult. As we mature, we become “self-supporting” in more areas, including self-esteem. If we develop properly, we transfer the source of approval from the world to ourselves; we shift from the external to the internal. But if one does not understand the nature and roots of adult self-esteem, but thinks terms in of “reflected appraisals,” one is at a severe disadvantage when it comes to putting theory into effective practice.” ( :285)

“emerged from several historical developments: the Renaissance in the fifteenth century, the Reformation in the sixteenth, and the Enlightenment in the eighteenth-and their two offspring, the Industrial Revolution and capitalism. Self-esteem, as we think about the concept today, has its roots iQ the post-Renaissance emerging culture of individualism. This is true of any number of ideals that we (and increasingly people in other countries) have come to admire, such as the freedom to marry for love, a belief in the right to the pursuit of happiness, a hope that work can be not only a source of sustenance but also of self-expression and self-fulfillment. Not long ago these values were regarded as very “Western,” very “American”-and now more and more of the world is embracing them. These values reflect human needs.” ( :288)

“The higher the level of consciousness one brings to what one is doing, the more effective and in control one feels-and the more successful one’s efforts.” ( :289)

“Not all cultures value self-responsibility equally. This does not alter the fact that where we see responsibility and the willingness to be accountable, we see a healthier, more robust sense of self-a biologically more adaptive organism.” ( :290)

“As for teamwork, group activity, and the like, the self-responsible person can function effectively with others precisely because he or she is willing to be accountable.” ( :290)

“Does it need to be argued that a society whose members value this attitude is stronger and better equipped for survival than a society whose members do not?” ( :290)

“”Aren’t you teaching people to elevate themselves above others?” I answered that the work had nothing to do with others, in the sense he imagined: it had to do with our relationship with ourselves-and with reality. Raised in a culture in which not the individual but the group is primary, he had difficulty understanding this; his whole orientation was to the social collective.” ( :292)

“”When gathered in a bucket, the crabs on top will always keep the others from getting out,” he insisted. “It’s not goqd to be too great.” “In the first place,” I answered, “I don’t see human society as a bucket of crabs, and in the second place, what happens to children of extraordinary talent or ability in your world?”” ( :293)

“But if a culture places relationships first, above autonomy and authenticity, it leads the individual to selfalienation: to be “connected” is more important than to know who I am and to be who I am.” ( :293)

“mind. Everyone possesses what might be called a “cultural unconscious”-a set of implicit beliefs about nature, reality, human beings, man-woman relationships, good and evil-that reflect the knowledge, understanding, and values of a historical time and place.” ( :294)

“What impresses us about a mind like Aristotle’s, for instance, is the wide number of fields to which he brought the power of his extraordinarily original intellect. Yet even Aristotle was in many respects a man of his time and place. None of us can entirely escape the influence of our social environment.” ( :294)

“In most cultures men are socialized to identify personal worth with earning ability, with being “a good provider.” If, traditionally, women “owe” men obedience, men “owe” women financial support (and physical protection). If a woman loses her job and cannot find another, she has an economic problem, to be sure, but she does not feel diminished as a woman.” ( :295)

“woman. Men often feel emasculated. In hard times, women do not commit suicide because they cannot find work; men often do-because men have been trained to identify self-esteem with earning ability.” ( :295)

“note that the emphasis usually is not on earning ability as such, but on being a good provider. Men are judged, and are encouraged to judge themselves, by how well they can financially take care of others. Men are socialized to be “servants” fully as much as women; only the forms of ‘Culturally encouraged servitude are different.·” ( :295)

“• For an excellent discussion of “men’s story,” see Warren Farrell’s The Myth of Male Power (New York: Simon Schuster, 1993). &” ( :295)

“Plato, the father of collectivism, captures the essence of this perspective in the when he states, “My law will be made with a general Laws, view of the best interests of society at large … as I rightly hold the single person and his affairs as of minor importance.” He speaks enthusiastically of “the habit of never so much as thinking to do one single act apart from one’s fellows, of making life, to the very uttermost, an unbroken concert, society, and community of all with all.” In ancient times, we think of this vision as embodied in the militaristic society of Sparta. In modern times, its monuments were Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.” ( :296)

“nothing. Only as part of us can you be something. Thus, any society, to the extent that it is dominated by the tribal premise, is inherently unsupportive of self-esteem and more: it is actively inimical. In such a society the individual is socialized to hold himor herself in low esteem relative to the group. Self-assertiveness is suppressed (except through highly ritualized channels). Pride tends to be labeled a vice. Self-sacrifice is enjoined.” ( :297)

“Indeed, sexual activity often appears acceptable to most when the feelings that prompt it are superficial. “In the Trobriand islands, for instance,” writes G. Rattray Taylor:” ( :298)

“Adults do not mind if children engage in sexual play and attempt precociously to perform the sexual act; as adolescents, they may sleep with one another, provided only that they are not in love with one another. If they fall in love, the sexual act becomes forbidden, and for lovers to sleep together would outrage decency.3” ( :298)

“The bully-worshipping portion of Japan is only one sector of the rich and diverse Japanese moral geography. Yet I was not in Japan a week before this sector had drawn my attention and seduced me with its vaguely fascist magnetism …. it happened, I As had been recently reading Plato, and when I saw the traditional Japanese values-strength through suffering, strength through hierarchy, strength through individual submersion in the group-I recognized what I beheld …. No one would have admired the traditional Japanese values more than Plato, who would have seen in them the gleaming Sparta of his dreams.4” ( :299)

“In California, when educators introduced self-esteem curricula into the schools, the most fervent opponents were Christian fundamentalists. They denounce such programs as “self-worship.” They argue that selfesteem alienates children from God.” ( :300)

“I recall, many years ago, a Carmelite nun speaking of her training. “We were taught that the enemy to be annihilated, the barrier between ourselves and Divinity, was the self. Eyes cast down-not to see too much. Emotions suppressed-not to feel too much. A life of prayers and service-not to think too much. Above all, obedience-not to question.”” ( :300)

“to-those who think differently are often perceived by believers as a threat, a danger, capable of spreading the disease of nonbelief to others. For example, consider the typical religious response to atheism. If one has arrived at belief in God through some authentic personal experience, one would imagine that an appropriate response to those not Similarly advantaged would be compassion. Instead, more often than not, the response is hatred. Why? The answer can only be that the atheist is experienced by the believer as a threat. Yet if the believer truly feels not only that God exists but that God is on his or her side, then it is the atheist, not the believer, who should receive kindness and sympathy, having lacked the good fortune to be touched by the experience of Divinity.” ( :300)

“It would be a mistake to let one’s thinking on this point stop at Islam or Roman Catholicism. Luther and Calvin were no friendlier to the independent mind than was the pope. If, in any culture, children are taught, “We are all equally unworthy in the Sight of God”- If, in any culture, children are taught, “You are born in’ sin and are sinful by nature”- If children are given a message that amounts to “Don’t think, don’t question, believe”- If children are given a message that amounts to “Who are you to place your mind above that of the priest, the minister, the rabbi?”- If children are told, “If you have value it is not because of anything you have done or could ever do, it is only because God loves you”- If children are told, “Submission to what you cannot understand is the beginning of morality”- If children are instructed, “Do not be ‘willful,’ self-assertiveness is the sin of pride”- If children are instructed, “Never think that you belong to yourself”- If children are informed, “In any clash between your judgment and” ( :301)

“that of your religious authorities, it is your authorities you must believe”- If children are informed, “Self-sacrifice is the foremost virtue and noblest duty”- -then consider what will be the likely consequences for the practice of living consciously, or the practice of self-assertiveness, or any of he other pillars of healthy self-esteem.” ( :302)

“Many Christians I have talked to assure me that they personally know what Jesus Christ really meant but that, alas, millions of other Christians don’t.” ( :302)

“I myself have sometimes asked, “If you believe that we are the children of God, isn’t it blasphemy to suggest that we not love ourselves?”” ( :302)

“And yet, the question remains: If the fundamentalists have gone on the warpath about the introduction of self-esteem programs in the schools because they believe such programs are incompatible with traditional religion, is it possible they are not mistaken? That is a question that must be faced.” ( :302)

“Protestant theologian Paul Tillich’s assertion that everyone is equally unworthy in the sight of God?” ( :303)

“Although our political leaders have betrayed this vision many ways and many times, it still contains the essence of what the abstraction-America-stands for. Freedom. Individualism. The right to the pursuit of happiness. Selfownership. The individual as an end in him-or herself, not a means to the ends of others; not the property of family or church or state or society. These ideas were radical at the time they were proclaimed, and I do not believe they are fully understood or accepted yet; not by most people.” ( :303)

“Many of the Founding Fathers were Deists. They saw God as a force . that had created the universe and then largely withdrew from human affairs.” ( :303)

“At the core of the American tradition was the fact that this country was born as a frontier nation where nothing was given and everything had to be created.” ( :304)

“At the same time, a culture is made of people-and people inevitably carry the past with them. Americans may have repudiated the tribal premise politically, but they or their ancestors came from countries dominated by the tribal mentality, which often continued to influence them culturally and psychologically. They may in some instances have come to these shores to escape religious prejudice and persecution, but many of them carried the mind-set of religious authoritarianism with them.” ( :304)

“I thought of these ideas and of the professors who taught them in the spring of 1992 as I sat watching on television the riots in South-Central Los Angeles. When a looter was asked by a journalist, “Didn’t you realize that the stores you looted and destroyed today wouldn’t be there for you tomorrow,” the looter answered, “No, I never thought of that.” Well, who would have ever taught him it was important to learn how to think, when” ( :305)

“”advantaged children” aren’t taught it either?” ( :306)

“I thought how perfectly the ideas of my professors had been translated into cultural reality. Ideas do matter and do have consequences.” ( :306)

“For example, children will not be taught to regard themselves as sinful, obedience will not be rewarded more than intelligent questioning, students will not be taught reason is a superstition, girls will not be told femininity equals submissiveness, self-sacrifice will not be eulogized while productive achievement is met with indifference, welfare systems will not penalize the choice to work, and regulatory agencies will not treat producers as criminals.” ( :307)

“”doing more of what doesn’t work, doesn’t work.”” ( :308)

“Cultures do not encourage the questioning of their own premises. One of the meanings of living consciously has to do with one’s awareness that other people’s beliefs are just that, their beliefs, and not necessarily ultimate truth. This does not mean that living conSCiously expresses itself in skepticism. expresses itself in critical thinking. It” ( :309)

“Genuine self-esteem is what we feel about ourselves when everything is not all right.” ( :310)

“If I live a life of unthinking routine, with no challenges or crises, I may be able to evade for a while the fact that what I possess is not self-esteem but pseudo self-esteem. When everything is all right, everything is all right, but that is not how we determine the presence of self-esteem.” ( :310)

“not all right. This means, when we are challenged by the unexpected, when others disagree with us, when we are flung back on our own resources, when the cocoon of the group can no longer insulate us from the tasks and risks of life, when we must think, choose, decide, and act and no one guiding us or applauding us. At such moments our is deepest premises reveal themselves.” ( :311)

“deepest premises reveal themselves. One of the biggest lies we were ever told is that it is “easy” to be selfish and that self-sacrifice takes spiritual strength. People sacrifice themselves in a thousand ways every day. This is their tragedy. To honor the self-to honor mind, judgment, values, and convictions-is the ultimate act of courage. Observe how rare it is. But it is what self-esteem asks of us.” ( :311)

 

Conclusion:
The Seventh Pillar of Self-Esteem

 

“ourselves. Living purposefully pulls us out of passivity into the demanding life of high focus; it requires that we be selfgenerators. Living with integrity demands that we choose our values and stand by them, whether this is pleasant and whether others share our convictions; there are times when it demands hard choices.” ( :313)

“Taking the long view, it is easy to see that high-self-esteem people are happier than low-self-esteem people. Self-esteem is the best predictor of happiness we have. But in the short term, self-esteem requires the willingness to endure discomfort when that is what one’s spiritual growth entails.” ( :313)

“The desire to avoid discomfort is not, per se, a vice. But when surrendering to it blinds us to important realities and leads us away from necessary actions, it results in tragedy.” ( :313)


Check out more book notes at How I Read 90 Books In The Past 2 Years By Reading 20 Pages A Day

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