How to Build Self-Esteem – Practicing The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem & Pitfalls – Weekly Challenge #62
Now as stated throughout this process – we constantly have been talking about the six pillars of Self-Esteem, yet there is a seventh semi-pillar that Nathaniel Branden closes his book with. What is this seventh pillar you might ask? Even though it’s not explicitly stated, it’s about the complete integration of the six pillars. What dangerous and traps that stand between us and living and growing a true self-esteem.
Now in this last – very short 2,5 pagers long – chapter Branden talks about finding that Hero within and makes sure to – at least – on an overall level see to that the “right” actions we take outnumber the “wrong” ones. But before addressing that, I’m briefly going to remind you of the definition of self-esteem and the six pillars that facilitate growth of it:
“Self-esteem, fully realized, is the experience that we are appropriate to life and to the requirements of life. More specifically, self-esteem is:
- confidence in our ability to think, confidence in our ability to cope with the basic challenges of life; and .
- confidence in our right to be successful and happy, the feeling of being worthy, deserving, entitled to assert our needs and enjoy the fruits of our efforts. (1995, Branden, p. 4)
To sum up in a formal definition:
Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and as worthy of happiness.” (1995, Branden, p. 7)
THE SIX PILLARS OF SELF-ESTEEM ARE:
- 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
So again, being your own hero- what does that mean? Basically, it’s about choosing the right path in life, even though it is a path that requires way more effort and action in comparison to the path of least resistance. To be conscious, requires an active choice not to let external sources capitate/highjack your consciousness.
“It means a willingness-and a will-to live the six practices when to do so may not be easy” (1995, Branden, p.4)
The thing is, this is always easy in theory, but when we’re are standing there facing the action of choosing action, it’s not so easy anymore. Because one thing all the six pillars have in common – is the requirement of active action – “The six pillars all entail choice”. Which in contrast mean that passivity results in opposite effect of what we seek – a higher self-esteem.
This brings us to the first of the two enemies of Self-esteem – LAZINESS;
“Laziness” is not a term we ordinarily encounter in books on psychology. And yet, is anyone unaware that sometimes we fail ourselves for no reason other than the disinclination to generate the effort of an appropriate response? (In 1be Psychology of Self-Esteem, I called this phenomenon “antieffort.”) Sometimes, of course, laziness is abetted by fatigue; but not necessarily. Sometimes we are just lazy; meaning we do not challenge inertia, we do not choose to awaken.” (1995, Branden, p. 303)
The second Enemy of Self-Esteem is the fear of PAIN;
“The other dragon we may need to slay is the impulse to avoid discomfort. Living consciously may obligate us to confront our fears; it may bring us into contact with unresolved pain. Self-acceptance may require that
we make real to ourselves thoughts, feelings, or actions that disturb our equilibrium; it may shake up our “official” self-concept. Self-responsibility obliges us to face our ultimate aloneness; it demands that we relinquish fantasies of a rescuer. Self-assertiveness entails the courage to be authentic, with no guarantee of how others will respond; it means that we risk being ourselves. Living purposefully pulls us out of passivity
into the demanding life of high focus; it requires that we be self-generators. 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. 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.” (1995, Branden, p. 303)
In practice, this all translates to us not taking the appropriate action to build self-esteem as that not often is a path that entails pain or discomfort. Standing up for one’s values and believes may mean opposing someone’s else’s, which can be tuff for a person that are used to always please everybody. Every time we take an active action in the directions that the six pillars speaks of, we build self-esteem. Hence, this explain the tremendous power in the Rejection Therapy challenges, I’ve been doing in parallel of going through these pillars. Constantly doing things that aligns with our believes values and goals, pushing ourselves to what is uncomfortable, and then reap the reward of that. The feeling of doing what you know is right for you, and that sweet adrenaline rush as an instant reward, creating that t habit loop of a repetitive behaviour imprinted in your brain – resulting in a higher self-esteem.
How we act when we are passive – a state that most persons live life by:
“First, we avoid what we need to look at because we do not want to feel pain. Then our avoidance produces further problems for us, which we also do not want to look at because they evoke pain. Then the new avoidance produces additional problems we do not care to examine-and so on. Layer of avoidance is piled on layer of avoidance, disowned pain on disowned pain.” (1995, Branden, p. 303)
How we should act to promote healthy Self-Esteem:
“First, we decide that our self-esteem and our happiness matter more than short–term discomfort or pain. We take baby steps at being more conscious, self-accepting, responsible, and so on. We notice that when we do this we like ourselves more. This inspires us to push on and attempt to go farther. We become more truthful with ourselves and others. Self-esteem rises. We take on harder assignments. We feel a little tougher, a little more resourceful. It becomes easier to confront discomfiting emotions and threatening situations; we feel we have more assets with which to cope. We become more self-assertive. We feel stronger. We are building the spiritual equivalent of a muscle. Experiencing ourselves as more powerful, we see difficulties in more realistic perspective. We may never be entirely free of fear or pain, but they have lessened immeasurably, and we are not intimidated by them. Integrity feels less threatening and more natural.” (1995, Branden, p. 303-304)
Branden speaks of taking this path, but doing so in a manner that entails as little pain or struggle as possible, but still reaching the same outcome. He emphasis that this pain doesn’t have any value on its own, if it can be avoided – avoid it. You can peele the skin of an apple with your nails, yet the same result can be achieved with a peeler within a fraction of the time and effort required by using your hands. We must be smart about our strategies to build self-esteem, and we must adopt a mindset that facilitates our reactions, thoughts and emotions as a result of our actions.
“…doing what is difficult but necessary need not be “a big thing.” We do not have to catastrophize fear or discomfort. We can accept them as part of life, face them and deal with them as best we can, and keep moving in the direction of our best possibilities.
But always, will is needed. Perseverance is needed. Courage is needed. The energy for this commitment can only come from the love we have for our own life. This love is the beginning of virtue. It is the launching pad for our highest and noblest aspirations. It is the motive power that drives the six pillars. It is the seventh pillar of self-esteem” (1995, Branden, p.304)
#1- Integrate all the practices, now if this is your first ever contact with this book, I recommend you to start with the first pillar ( link the the first video I did here: https://youtu.be/HUBNby50D4M ). Or you can try to take in the intuitive meaning of these pillars, think about what they mean and apply and practice that. Because the overall focus of the week is be aware of the enemies of self-esteem LAIZNESS and avoidance of PAIN, by actively being observant ( PILLAR OF LIVING CONSIOYSSLUY ) and act against them, taking the appropriate action and daring to face those fears! That is the main challenge of this week. If you want to listen to the audiobook, link here: https://youtu.be/mfFUVnwCNVY . It’s a bit shorter compared to the textbook, but still gives you what you need to hear!
#2 – Also, I want you to go through a little exercise to motivate you to really build that self-esteem, when something requires prolonged action, it’s a necessity that we are firmly grounded in our reasons for why we are actually doing something. As Brandon said “But always, will is needed. Perseverance is needed. Courage is needed. The energy for this commitment can only come from the love we have for our own life.” And it’s a good practice to go through why you have a love for your own life, and why you owe it to yourself to develop your self-esteem to a new level. That is what will give you that will, perseverance and courage when times are tuff. When pain is present.
TONY – If you want change, you have to associate more pleasure than pain to doing it. Here’s Tony’s Recipe for long-term change:
Write down as many reasons as possible (5-10) for each of these:
- Why you must Change:
- Why you can change:
- Create 10 positive associations that change will bring
The third step intentionally skipped: Coming up with a few Interrupting patterns, here’s a link to Tony himself explaining the process if you want the step explained as well: https://youtu.be/YpY5FO5qoNo?t=2h8m52s
#3 – Thirdly, if it’s not too much, I’m going to be doing sentence completion exercise, as previously described, to focus in on the pillars. This week I’ll be having six stem sentence pillars, one for every pillar, to finish every morning and evening;
“When working with sentence completion on your own, you can use a notebook, typewriter, or computer. (An acceptable alternative is to do the sentence completions into a tape recorder, in which case you keep repeating the stem into a recorder, each time completing it with a difference ending, and pliy the work back later to reflect on it.)
First thing in the morning, before proceeding to the day’s business, sit and write the following stem:
If I bring more awareness to my life today-
Then, as rapidly as possible, without pausing for reflection, write as many endings for that sentence as you can in two or three minutes (never fewer than six and ten is enough).
Do not worry if your endings are literally true, or make sense, or are “profound.” Write anything, but write something. “ (1995, Branden, p. 309-310)
If I bring more awareness to my life today-
Self-acceptance to me means-
Self-responsibility to me means-
Self-assertiveness to me means-
So that is it! I wish you good luck, don’t miss out on the vlog during the week!