An excerpt on self-esteem by Nathaniel Branden

Of all the judgments that we pass in life, none is as important as the one we pass on ourselves, for that judgment touches the very center of our existence.
…No significant aspect of our thinking, motivation, feelings, or behavior is unaffected by our self-evaluation…
The first act of honoring the self is the assertion of consciousness: the choice to think, to be aware, to send the searchlight of consciousness outward toward the world and inward toward our own being. To default on this effort is to default on the self at the most basic level.
To honor the self is to be willing to think independently, to live by our own mind, and to have the courage of our own perceptions and judgments.
To honor the self is to be willing to know not only what we think but also what we feel, what we want, need, desire, suffer over, are frightened or angered by–and to accept our right to experience such feelings. The opposite of this attitude is denial, disowning, repression–self- repudiation.
To honor the self is to preserve an attitude of self-acceptance–which means to accept what we are, without self-oppression or self-castigation, without any pretense about the truth of our own being, pretense aimed at deceiving either ourselves or anyone else.
To honor the self is to live authentically, to speak and act from our innermost convictions and feelings.
To honor the self is to refuse to accept unearned guilt, and to do our best to correct such guilt as we may have earned.
To honor the self is to be committed to our right to exist which proceeds from the knowledge that our life does not belong to others and that we are not here on earth to live up to someone else’s expectations. To many peopole, this is a terrifying responsibility.
To honor the self is to be in love with our own life, in love with our possibilities for growth and for experiencing joy, in love with the process of discovery and exploring our distinctively human potentialities.
Thus we can begin to see that to honor the self is to practice selfishness in the highest, noblest, and least understood sense of that word. And this, I shall argue, requires enormous independence, courage, and integrity.

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