If one were to ask what single characteristic that makes you attractive to others, it would be self-esteem.

Self-esteem, as defined by Nathaniel Branden in “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem,” is the reputation one has with him or herself. The criteria which we unconsciously judge ourselves and which makeup our self-esteem is two fold:

  1. The first is self efficacy, which is our perceived ability to deal with the basic requirements of life; i.e., competence.
  2. The second is self respect, which is the degree to which we feel deserving of happiness, receiving the rewards of our efforts and how steadfast we are in defending our boundaries.

Branden gives us six basic pillars, which if worked on with sufficient effort will increase one’s self-esteem. These are:

  1. The practice of living consciously
  2. The practice of self acceptance
  3. The practice of self responsibility
  4. The practice of self assertiveness
  5. The practice of living purposefully
  6. The practice of personal integrity

While I won’t break down each of these in detail, when I work with clients, I preach many of these pillars in one way or another.

Branden explains that even the smallest improvements in any one of these pillars can lead to massive shifts on one’s overall self-esteem.

Improvements happen in two steps. The first is asking, what do I want? And the second asks, what must I do? First, the conceptualization, then the execution.

It is with the execution step that one receives the reward of a boost in self-esteem. It isn’t necessarily the successful execution of the action step, but an honest, committed attempt.

For example, if you have approach anxiety and you finally work up the courage to ask for a promotion or meet a high-potential contact, the reward received is substantial.

This execution, essentially imprinted your subconscious saying that you are willing to put yourself in harm’s way in order to experience what you want, because you believe you are worthy of that experience. This is the basis for courage. This is why blasting through your fears can become an addiction for some people. The boost in dopamine and serotonin is very real, and feels amazing.

I highly recommend giving this book a read. It has been an essential tool in developing my own assertiveness and raising my overall sense of worthiness influencing my past career, my current practice and everything in between.