Nathaniel Branden’s classic 1994 work on the nature and importance of self-esteem, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, is one of the most important books for anyone embarking on the quest for self-betterment. Branden literally wrote the book on self-esteem; in fact, he wrote several, with The Six Pillars being the most monumental.
Understanding what self-esteem is and how to get it is absolutely fundamental for self-improvement.
The way you value yourself, the way you judge yourself, is obviously going to be highly determinant of the way you treat yourself, the things you engage in and the way you interact with the wider world. Developing self-esteem, strengthening it, and maintaining it are all predications for success in life, including the recent domains I’ve been covering in this blog: goals, habits, and willpower.
Studies show that just the state of believing in yourself, in believing that change IS possible for you, is absolutely fundamental for those of us struggling to overcome serious addictions, master new skills, and make major life changes such as regular exercise or dietary improvements.
Branden called this state of self-belief and faith in your own abilities self-efficacy: “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.”
Anyone who has struggled with low self-esteem knows that self-trust and belief in one’s self-efficacy are often the first things to take a hit in your pysche. “I will NEVER succeed because I am fundamentally bad.” When you define yourself this way, you carry out actions that confirm your thoughts: you self-sabotage, which provides more evidence to confirm your initial judgment.
It’s a negative loop of thinking, and it’s imperative that we get out of it.
I know this truth well, because I was stuck in negative loops for several decades. The vast majority of my life, in fact.
I know how trapped you can feel when everything you do confirms the way you think about yourself, which in turn increases the negative way you feel about yourself. It really does feel like you are thrown into the bottom of a very, very deep well, and that try as hard you might you simply cannot claw your way out.
I am writing this short blog article to help those stuck in the well of depression, and I am devoting the next little series of blogs I do to the practical measures that we can take to increase our happiness, restore faith in ourselves, and thus strengthen our self-efficacy.
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Thanks, and namaste!