A Self-Help book by Nathaniel Branden. This book attempts to answer questions like "How do I grow my self-esteem?" and "How do I break the self defeating behaviour I exhibit due to my low self-esteem?"
This book has 11 chapters, each one discussing different facets of self-esteem and presenting some exercises to help resolve problems one may have with them.
- The Importance of Self-Esteem. This chapter introduces the book, and tries to impress upon the reader just how important self-esteem is.
- Self-Concept as Destiny. Here Dr. Branden tells us about Self-Concept, the mental image we have of ourselves. This chapter also introduces some case-studies of Branden's patients.
- Living Consciously. This chapter has many case studies to reinforce the point that we have to be in control of our own actions and their consequences at all times.
- Learning Self-Acceptance. This chapter is much the same as the previous in form, but the message is now one of learning to be aware of yourself and to accept what you see. This chapter also introduces sentence stems with which to practise accepting yourself.
- Liberation from Guilt. In this chapter, Branden discusses guilt and attempts to explain how we often mistake guilt for fear. Again, sentence stems and case studies are used extensively to illustrate points and reinforce concepts.
- Integrating the Younger Self. Here we are introduced to the idea that we have younger selves living within us, and that if we let them, they can influence our behaviour for good or bad. Sentence stems are used to good effect in this chapter, helping you to realise what aspects of yourself are firmly attached to your child-self.
- Living Responsibly. This chapter tells us that we are completely responsible for our actions, and that we can't blame anyone else for our own failings.
- Living Authentically. This chapter shows us that our self-esteem is intrinsically linked to our honesty to ourself and others.
- Nurturing the Self-Esteem of Others. In this chapter, Branden explains how by raising our self-esteem we can have a positive impact on others. We are also told that the act of raising someone else's self-esteem will in turn raise our own.
- The Question of Selfishness. This chapter tries to split the concept of selfishness from that of self-esteem. Branden tells us that we need to realise that it is OK to love ourselves, and that we are not being selfish when we do so.
- Summary: The Impact of Self-Esteem. This final chapter paints a rosy picture of our lives if we sufficiently grow our self-esteem.
This book has certainly affected my life in a positive manner, however I found this book, like most self-help books, to be too easy to put down. The type of person who would follow the exercises and improve themselves is perhaps the person who doesn't need this book as much as the person who would leave the book alone. This book is no substitute for therapy, be it professional or amateur.
I also found the case studies to be too simple, too easily resolved (in the most part). I know from experience that you can't just flip a switch and change. You won't change your life with this book, but you may improve it a little.