The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden (Summary & Review)

Mindset Personal Development Psychology

What’s in it? Quick Summary

“The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem” by Nathaniel Branden outlines six pillars that are essential for developing healthy self-esteem: the practice of conscious living, self-acceptance, self-assertiveness, purposeful living, self-responsibility, and personal integrity.

The book emphasizes the importance of recognizing the influence of self-esteem on all aspects of life and provides practical advice on how to improve it.

Overall, the book provides a comprehensive guide to understanding and improving self-esteem for personal growth and success.

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You can buy the book in your preferable format below.

Get the Audiobook: Listen free with Audible Trial

Get the Paperback version: View price on Amazon

Get the Hardcover version: View price on Amazon

About the author

Nathaniel Branden is a Canadian psychotherapist and writer, known for his work in the field of self-esteem.

Branden has also worked as a lecturer and has been a popular figure in the self-help movement for many years. He has been a proponent of Objectivism, a philosophical system developed by Ayn Rand, and has written several books on the subject.

Branden died in 2014 at the age of 84.

What will you learn from this book summary?

You will learn about the six pillars of self-esteem and how to develop them in order to improve your life and achieve success.

Bullet Summary: The Six Pillars Of Self Esteem

  • Recognize that your self-esteem influences everything you do in life. If you have a low self-esteem, it will limit you and affect all areas of your life.
  • Don’t be passive and unaware about your self-esteem. Take time to reflect on your thoughts, emotions, and experiences to become more aware of your self-esteem level.
  • Develop self-respect, self-efficacy, and self-acceptance to naturally increase your self-esteem.
  • Improve your level of consciousness by becoming more aware of your thoughts, actions, and choices.
  • Acknowledge and accept the ugly parts of yourself to practice self-acceptance.
  • Take responsibility for your life and feel a strong sense of control over it to naturally increase your self-esteem.
  • Learn to stand up for yourself and express yourself in a healthy way to boost your self-esteem.
  • Parents should parent their children in a way that nurtures healthy self-esteem.
  • Schools should ensure that children have access to activities and programs that nurture healthy self-esteem.
  • Focus on the six pillars of self-esteem: the practice of conscious living, self-acceptance, self-assertiveness, purposeful living, self-responsibility, and personal integrity.

Before dive into the detailed summary, let’s discuss what self-esteem means first.

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves, the way we view our worth, our abilities, and our limitations. It is the foundation of our mental health and the key to success in life.

The Six Pillars Of Self Esteem Summary

Are you struggling with confidence and self-esteem?

Do you feel like your self-doubt is holding you back from achieving your goals?

Don’t let low self-esteem hold you back any longer and start your journey towards a more confident and fulfilling life.

Make sure you read this article till the end.

In this article, you’ll learn practical advice on how to improve your self-esteem.

Alrighty, so without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Lesson #1: Your self-esteem influences everything you do in your life.

If someone asks that whether or not can you become successful in life, what will be your answer.

A lot of people will say “I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll ever become that super successful in life.”

Lot of people will say those things are only for the lucky people.

Lot of people today are insecure about themselves.

They don’t think they are good enough.

They never work on themselves.

They lack focus.

They lack skills.

They waste time on social media.

If you are one of those, chances are you have a low self-esteem.

You don’t think you can achieve anything big in life.

The problem with low-self esteem is that it limits you. It affects all areas of your life.

If you don’t think that you can do great things, it will show in whatever you do.

You’ll always feel less motivated.

On the flip side, people who have a high self-esteem believe that they have got huge potential.

They think that they can do great things in life. They think they can move the mountains.

They think that there is a better future for them.

They are not afraid to put in the work.

They work with dedication.

They don’t waste their time because they believe in their missions.

People with high self-esteem thus usually achieve more things in life compared to those with low self-esteem.

A high healthy self-esteem gives you the confidence to be successful.

You feel better about yourself.

You may be a highly intelligent person with lots of talent, but if you have a low self-esteem, you will struggle to accomplish great things in life.

You will unconsciously avoid opportunities to shine.

In short: Having a low self-esteem has adverse consequences.

Let’s try to understand how to deal with low esteem without being passive about it.

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Lesson #2: Don’t be passive and unaware about your self-esteem.

The reason many people carry low self-esteem in their minds is that they are unaware about it.

Self esteem is shaped by so many factors.

But it mostly is based on what you think about yourself.

So technically, it’s the information in your mind about yourself that you have agreed to.

Just think about it.

You have so many opinions about yourself.

You have heard so many things about yourself from other people.

You have had so many good and bad experiences.

They all had affected your self-esteem in some way.

If you had encouraging people around you and you have had decent success facing challenges in your teenage years, you probably have a good self-esteem.

But if you didn’t face hardships and you have never heard anything good about yourself from your parents, teachers, or friends, then probably you will have a low self-esteem.

Most people don’t even realize they have a low self-esteem.

It requires a bit of awareness to find that out.

Can you see why most people underestimate their ability to grow and achieve great things in life?

No matter what you think, your self-esteem affects your life.

Keep reading as later we’ll discuss how to develop high self-esteem.

Realistically, to be able to do that you have to understand self-esteem in depth.

It’s essential to know the enemy well first if you plan to fight it.

Lesson #3: Have self-respect and self-efficacy to produce high self-esteem.

First, let’s understand what’s the difference between these terms: “Self respect,” “Self efficacy,” and “Self esteem.” And also try to learn the connection between these three.

What is self respect?

When we talk of respect, it’s mostly about how your parents, friends, and relatives treat you. If they treat you well, then it means they respect.

Self respect is how well do you treat yourself.

Self-respect is the practice of treating oneself with dignity, care, and kindness.

It is acknowledging one’s worth and valuing oneself as a human being. It is also about taking responsibility for one’s actions and making choices that align with one’s values and beliefs.

People with great self-respect aren’t afraid of laughing at themselves.

On the flip side, people with low self-respect get offended easily. Sometimes, a simple line that doesn’t align with their worldview can trigger their insecurities.

What is self-efficacy?

Behind every great action is a great belief.

Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in their ability to achieve goals and perform tasks successfully.

It is a key component of self-esteem and is influenced by factors such as past experiences, social support, and personal beliefs.

Individuals with high self-efficacy are more likely to take on challenging tasks, persist in the face of obstacles, and ultimately succeed in achieving their goals.

If your self-respect and self-efficacy is high, you’ll also have a high self-esteem.

There are more ways to improve self-esteem.

The author shares 6 pillars of self-esteem in the book:

  • The Practice of Conscious Living
  • The Practice of Self-Acceptance
  • The Practice of Self Assertiveness
  • The Practice of Purposeful Living
  • The Practice of Self-Responsibility
  • The Practice of Personal Integrity

Let’s discuss these briefly in the next lessons.

Lesson #4: Improve your level of consciousness by not betraying your own mind.

Humans are very weird.

We trick ourselves into doing things that are not conducive to our growth.

And then we complain about low self-esteem.


In every moment, you have two choices: Either you can become more aware, or you can ignore the reality and keep doing what you are already doing.

You can either choose to ignore the reality or you can choose to reflect on your actions and choices.

Whenever to choose, you become more conscious.

Lot of people on the planet live with a very low level of consciousness.

That is why many people even after they age, remain out of touch with their reality.

Maturity doesn’t doesn’t come with age.

You have to consciously work on it.

No amount of experiences will help you if your are not aware of the functionings of your own mind.

Just think about how many times you act cleverly.

How many times do you choose to waste time when you know you should be doing work?

How many times do you choose instant-gratification over long-term fulfilment?

We all fool ourselves by giving reasons.

We think that nobody is watching us.

But remember: All your actions and choices are constantly being registered in your subconscious mind.

If you choose to fall to a lower level of consciousness, you will be hurting your self-esteem in the long term.

Consciousness can be increased by becoming more mind and aware of the reality.

When you avoid what you don’t like, you avoid becoming more conscious.

Most people like to dream, but only a few people actually achieve their goals.

Those few people are the ones with higher levels of consciousness.

They can focus on their purpose even when they are surrounded by distractions by making conscious, mindful choices.

The first thing you can do to become more conscious right now is take a piece of paper and write down your purpose in life.

And then whatever you decide to do throughout your day, ask yourself “Will it help me achieve my purpose?”

This is a simple techique to become more aware of yourself.

People without a purpose are operating on a lower levels of consciousness.

Just by defining your purpose today you can take the lead, and open doors to higher levels of consciousness.

Simply stop living on autopilot and stop wasting time on fun things that carry no meaning in your life.

Don’t look at what others are doing because most of them are wasting their resources on things that will only lower their consciousness.

Make deliberate decisions and know why you are making them.

Lesson #5: Develop self-acceptance by accepting the ugly part of yourself.

Self acceptance and self-esteem sound similar.

And they are very related to each other as well.

As the name suggests, self-acceptance is about accepting yourself.

But the word “self acceptance” has become so overused.

It’s surprising that although we hear it so much, only a few percentage actually do it right.

First, we must know why self-acceptance is needed.

The thing is:

We all have ugly thoughts, emotions, and feelings.

A part of us just doesn’t want to accept them.

We all want to see ourself in a positive light. So we tend to reject our ugly thoughts.

Initially, it sounds alright to not look those ugly thoughts and feelings.

But over time, it pushes us into self-denial.

Self denial is always a problem.

Because when you do that, you stop seeing the reality.

You fall to lower level of consciousness.

Refusing to be in self-denial of our ugly parts of our minds is true self acceptance.

Make a commitment today with yourself that you’ll acknowledge all your thoughts and emotions even if they are not exactly how you want them to be.

It’s very natural to have those ugly thoughts and feelings.

Experience them.

Don’t just ignore them.

It’s going to make you feel bad at first though.

Society has overcelebrated positivity.

So anything negative is immediately rejected.

But understand positive cannot exist without negative. They both come in a package.

Don’t be so harsh on yourelf though.

The refusal to look at our ugly parts stops us from improving our self-esteem.

Anytime you find yourself rejecting parts of yourself, show some courage, and try to see what’s stopping you from accepting yourself.

Lesson #6: Taking responsibility of your life and feeling a strong sense of control over it can naturally increase your self-esteem.

Most people don’t take responsibility.

They complain how the life is so unfair.

High self-esteem people also live in the same world.

Life is equally unfair to them.

Guess what’s the difference?

Yes, they don’t complain and do nothing.

They take responsibility.

Instead of playing victim, they say “I am responsible for my life.”

While low self-self esteem people say “My life sucks. But that’s not my fault. Other people have it easier.”

Low self-esteem people keep wishing.

Yet they never achieve big things in life.

If you feel less confident, do something to fix that.

If you feel chubby and ugly, do something to fix that.

If you think you are not rich, do something to fix that.

If you think you lack skills, do something to fix that.

If you think other people are going to fix your problems, you are only dreaming.

Do something to improve yourself.

When you start taking responsibility, it gives you a sense of control over your life, resulting in improved self-esteem.

Remember you are responsible for your life. You are responsible for the choices you make and the actions you take.

It doesn’t matter if you are short or tall, if you are rich or poor, if you are wealthy or not, if you are intellgent or not, you can start working on yourself by taking responsibility.

Whatever resources you have got, use them to improve yourself.

Lesson #7: Learn to stand up for yourself and boost your self-esteem.

We are taught to respect authorities always.

And due to moral obligations, we act nice and do all the things that authorities want us to do.

However, this programs us to think that our ideas or opinions don’t matter much.

The truth is:

We must never be afraid to challenge authorities.

After all, no authority is always right.

There are people in the world who want to control us.

They make us feel weak.

They weaken our identity.

They make us feel that they are superior to us.

Guess why do they conditions us that way.

That’s because they all secretly want to become your masters.

They don’t want you increase your self-esteem.

Because it’s hard to control a person with high self-esteem.

So don’t be afraid to take a stand when you see clearly that your ideas are right.

Don’t be afraid to reject the ideas of other people.

Be a kind person, but don’t be kind solely out of fear of being judged.

Kindly note that standing up for yourself doesn’t mean that you have to become an arrogant person.

Self assertiveness must flow out of high consciousness.

For example:

If you observe modern Western feminist women, you may see how some of them rebel simply for the sake of rebelling. But you possess a high level of consciousness, you will recognize that they act without fully comprehending the implications of their actions, and without considering an unbiased perspective.

If you’re rebelling without any understanding or self-awareness, you’re not doing anything great.

By doing so, you are merely highlighting your deep insecurities.

Rebellious actions without understanding can be destructive.

Therefore, always keep a check on your emotions when you assert your opinions on others.

It’s good to be self-assertive, but you need to develop a high consciousness before that.

The world will try to break you in so many ways.

But you have to stay strong.

This will help you in building a solid self-esteem.

Remember, this type of self-assertiveness is different from what most people do.

You have to look wholistically.

If your individualistic behavior has negative effects on everybody, it’s better not to engage in that behavior.

In short: Express yourself in a healthy way. Not in a destructive way.

Lesson #8: Parents must parent their children in such a that they develop high self-esteem.

Usually, the chidren who don’t get much love and acceptance from their parents end up with low self-esteem when they grow up.

The idea is that:

If children are properly educated by parents in the right way, their self-esteem can develop right from the childhood.

We may think that it’s only priveleged children who have the high self-esteem.

But that’s not true.

Researchers found that love and a sense of security at home are the key drivers of healthy self-image in children.

If the parents have healthy self-esteem themselves, they are more likely to raise a child with healthy self-esteem.

Parents must be aware of how they behave in front of their children.

If parents are constantly betraying their own words, children are less likely to admire them.

Parents must also encourage their children to express their thoughts with courage.

Many parents don’t let their children speak to show authority.

But it hurts the children’s self-image with time.

They start fearing authorities anywhere they go.

For example: They even start fearing raising doubts in the classroom in front of teachers.

Parents must learn how children’s brain develop and also educate themselves, so they nurture their children the right way.

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem Exercises

Here are five simple exercises that can help you build more self-esteem:

  1. Positive Affirmations: Write down positive affirmations about yourself and repeat them to yourself every day. For example, “I am worthy of love and respect,” “I am capable of achieving my goals,” and “I am confident in who I am.”
  2. Practice Gratitude: Make a list of things you are grateful for in your life. This can help you focus on the positive aspects of your life, which can boost your self-esteem.
  3. Do Something That Scares You: Push yourself out of your comfort zone and do something that scares you. This can be anything from public speaking to trying a new hobby. When you accomplish something that you didn’t think you could do, it can help build your confidence and self-esteem.
  4. Accept Compliments: When someone gives you a compliment, accept it graciously. Don’t brush it off or downplay it. This can help you internalize positive feedback and boost your self-esteem.
  5. Practice Self-Care: Take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. This can include getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, practicing mindfulness, and doing things that make you happy. When you prioritize your own well-being, it can help build your confidence and self-esteem.

The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem Review

I enjoyed reading this book a lot.

The book touches the topic of self-esteem.

It’s something I wanted to dig deeper into.

I’m glad I read this book.

Now I understand what’s the signifcance of building self-esteem.

Who is this book for?

This book is recommended for:

  • People who struggle with low self-esteem and want to improve their confidence and self-worth.
  • Parents who want to raise children with healthy self-esteem.
  • Professionals who work in fields that require high levels of self-confidence and assertiveness, such as sales or public speaking.

Buy the book

You can buy the book in your preferable format below.

Get the Audiobook: Listen free with Audible Trial

Get the Paperback version: View price on Amazon

Get the Hardcover version: View price on Amazon

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Thanks for reading.

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The Brain Behind

I am Shami Manohar, the founder of WizBuskOut. My obsession with non-fiction books has fueled me with the energy to create this website. I read at least one book every week on topics such as business, critical thinking, mindset, psychology, and more.

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