Nathaniel Branden’s A Women’s Self-Esteem gives an inside view to helping women improve their self-esteem and begin to live a healthier, happier life. Self-esteem is the ability to experience ourselves as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and to be capable of seeking happiness. It consists of two components: self-efficacy, or the ability to chose, learn, think and make appropriate decisions, and self-respect, the right to be blissful, the belief that achieving, making friends, succeeding, loving and fulfillment are deserving for us. Self-esteem is essential to all humans to have healthy development. If one lacks a positive self-esteem, psychological growth would be staggered. Branden describes a woman’s self-esteem as a building of six pillars; without any one pillar the whole building would collapse. The pillars include each of the following: living consciously, self-acceptance, self-responsibility, self-assurance, living purposefully, and living with integrity. Each matter is discussed in detail, and personal stories are narrated to give evidence of unique case studies in which these topics are found. In the conclusion of each explanation of the topic, Branden includes a sentence completion exercise in which sentence stems are given and the reader is directed to quickly respond by adding an ending to each stem. This exercise is an excellent method of thought processes and is terrific for releasing one’s ideas through writing. The work later depicts special circumstances in which self-esteem plays a key role. These exceptional issues include: romantic love, the fear of selfishness, jealousy, expressing anger, defensiveness, and success anxiety. Each subject is covered specifically and these chapters also comprise of case studies and additional sentence completion exercises. Branden consoles the reader by assuring her or him that although one may often feel guilty for these feelings, they are normal, and without them one would become ruthless in their own happiness. This area of the book, if appreciated, is clustered with many valuable, lifelong lessons and instructions. Branden then goes on to enlighten the reader with empowering strategies to aid in unraveling the mysteries behind some of these exceptional issues, which one may be able to apply to their own life. The conclusion leaves the reader with a sincere desire to strive to perfect his or her self-esteem. Rather honestly, I found Branden’s contemplation of a woman’s self-esteem to be somewhat bothersome at first. I found it difficult to read a work intended for a female audience yet written by a male. Although this opinion may be slightly sexist, I felt only a woman knows a woman’s feelings and therefore would be more qualified to express her opinion on such a matter. I quickly overcame this bias the further I read Branden’s work. Although he is male, he is very knowledgeable and insightful; he knows an enormous amount on this topic, making him just as suitable to write such a book as any woman may be. While reading this work I began to critique my own self-esteem, hoping that it will hold up to the standards set by Branden. It is difficult to accept the fact one’s self-esteem is not perfect and will not possess all of the qualities cataloged in the work. The reader must accept the idea that like everything else, improving one’s self-esteem will take work, dedication and time. Changing a quality as integral as self-esteem can be extremely demanding. One is obliged to become conscious of the reality that we are not perfect, but at the same time we must strive to purify and rid our self-esteem of all impurities; in essence strive to achieve a powerful, confident and strong self-esteem. Branden’s foundation, from which the entire book is built, is the six pillars our self-esteem is constructed upon. We must obtain all six pillars to indeed have a healthy and strong self-esteem. I have found it difficult to attempt to fulfill all six aspects, yet with some work it is possible. To live consciously I try to accept the facts of reality without avoidance or denial. To be self-accepting I must realize the reality of my thoughts, emotions and actions. I try to be respectful and compassionate to others and myself and hold all relationships with great value. I am self-responsible by fully acknowledging my choices and actions. I attempt to be self-assertive by honoring my wants and needs without being selfish, yet at the same time knowing my feelings must come first before serving others. Living purposefully, I set goals and then obtain those goals through my actions. Lastly, I live with integrity; I have principles to which I remain loyal in action. Although I, as most other Americans would tend to agree, cannot live up to these standards daily, I do my best and acknowledge my efforts the best I can. I learned many valuable lessons from this book, which I will truly be able to live by for the rest of my life. Although I have heard the cliché, “If one is not able to love themselves then they cannot love another,” I don’t believe I ever realized the true meaning of it until reading this book. I also learned if one is not selfish they are not obeying his or her obligation to honor his or her own rights and needs, to act on his or her own judgment, or to strive for happiness. I realized if one never displays jealousy one would not be aware of any insufficiency in his or her self-esteem, or if anger remains bottled up, ones troubled and confused emotions would never be released. Finally, I learned it was okay to be defensive, sometimes; if one was never defensive, he or she would not be able to protect his or her self-esteem and it may quickly become tarnished. Throughout the work, Branden encourages one to do something different in our life. After all, variety is the spice of life. He also persuades the reader to know his or her boundaries, to know what he or she is and is not responsible for. He eggs the reader on to experience intimacy and to build long lasting relationships, which will help one develop and grow as an individual. However, one must realize that although these strategies are helpful, none of them will be possible if one is not able to choose happiness. No one is able to make one happy but oneself, one must choose to be happy and seek out ways to achieve the goal of happiness. I found the many case studies in this book are helpful to making this work a powerful tool to anyone who may be fortunate enough to be enlightened by its message. This book kindled my ideas and was valuable by permitting me to participate in its “experiments.” However, one must remember any tool can become a weapon at any time if it is handled incorrectly. One must take the knowledge obtained in Branden’s work and analyze it extremely carefully. Be careful when applying these concepts and ideas to one’s own self-esteem and especially when applying this knowledge to others. I found Branden’s A Woman’s Self-Esteem to be particularly interesting and a very valuable work as I strive to become knowledgeable in the astounding world of Psychology. I have been able to effectively evaluate my own self-esteem and take the facts I gained through my reading and relate them to my own life. As an outcome of coming across this book, I have begun to look at my life, behavior, and thoughts of others and myself differently. I am working to be able to have the perfect self-esteem we all strive for, to cleanse my self-esteem, and make it the best and most valuable tool I can possibly possess. I believe with some work and time this can be possible. I am the only one that can change my self-esteem. If I have confidence it can be changed, then it will change. The process of changing your self-esteem isn’t the difficult part. The hardest part is admitting it has to be changed and be willing to change it; the rest will all fall into place with time and practice.
a nice little bibliography