Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the book to read to get a foundational understanding self-esteem. It doesn't neatly fit into the categories self-help, psychology, or philosophy. However, it provides a lot of key insights into what self-esteem is based on. To Branden, self-esteem is grounded in one's awareness of themselves. Healthy self-esteem is an accomplishment that can't be won by self-delusion or affirmations. In the vignettes, he demonstrates many of the common mistakes people still make that diminish self-esteem. Overall, his explaination of self-esteem is very practical. I've also benefited from the sentence completion exercises he proposes.
His writing really shows how intimately well he knows the human psyche. Especially when he describes the negative inner voices, I saw a lot of myself in the book and how my mindeset harmed me in the past. He's very good at holding a mirror before our biggest irrationalities and arguing them into insignificance.
It's such a shame that the American culture did not adopt Branden's perspective on self-esteem. In the American public school systems, I never learned that self-esteem came from self-respect. Meaning that in order to feel good about myself, I would have set standards for myself and assert that I'm capable of living up to them. This is advice desperately needed in schools, especially where students are killing themselves (some literally) over social media posts.
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