Thank You Nathaniel Branden for Giving Us Back our Self Esteem

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The other day a friend of mine said something that startled me – really got my attention. She said, “Why all the attention on self-esteem? It seems like with all attention on it everyone is getting more selfish and more self centered.”

There’s merit to her statement and it caused me to pause and think about it for awhile.  Until approximately thirty or forty years ago we hadn’t heard much about self esteem.Then in 1969 came Nathaniel Branden and his book The Psychology of Self Esteem which gave a jump start to the development of  “The Me Generation.” It is true that we started focusing on “me” and less on “you.” And, yes, the pendulum swung to the extreme.

It seems to me that the pendulum, after its necessary swing far into narcissism, is now righting itself into a position of balance between being self-absorbed and other-absorbed. It had to take a wide swing before it could balance. The emphasis had been on our short comings as human beings for so long that we needed a “whack in the head” to realize that we are amazing creations. I was brought up with Christian teachings that had Jesus saying, “I am a worm and no man.” If HE was a worm,” I reasoned, “then how bad was I”  I was told so many times that I was a sinner that I finally came to believe it and it seemed to be more a state being/state of mind than an act of sinning itself.

After ending a 25 year marriage in which I was constantly “put down” I had reached the bottom of the self-esteem scale. Fortunately for me I discovered the self-help section of the bookstore and Dr. Branden’s books. It was the beginning of my recovery and my entering the arena of self improvement not just for me but for others who were suffering the personal pain of not only low self esteem but self-dislike. Having been in the nursing field for most of my adult life and having a minor in Psychiatric Nursing in college, it was a natural path for me to take. So in the early 1990s I studied hypnotherapy and started on my practice of helping others who had the “I’m-not-good-enough” syndrome. It was because of this that I started this blog – to reach as many as I can and get the word out that there is hope and light at the end of the long tunnel.

In November we are starting The Self Improvement Radio Show and I’m thinking the theme song might well be Alice Cooper’s “No More Mister Nice Guy” just because people are not going to like it as you begin to take your power back and become someone who is real, who has your own opinions and your own beliefs that may not agree with theirs. Stay tuned.

The path to building positive self esteem is a winding one for some and a straight shot for others. But it can be a rewarding path for each one who sets a foot on it and walks it with determination.

With all your personal talents, abilities, skills, knowledge and wisdom – what could you be and achieve if you believed in yourself and liked who you are? Think about it and do the Nike thing. You know – just do it.

So I have to say, “Thank you Nathaniel Branden for giving us the tools to rediscover who we are and how great that is.” You have let us know that we are, indeed good enough!

Irene Conlan

Irene Conlan has a master's degree in nursing, She taught nursing at Arizona State University, served as Director of Nursing Administration at St. Luke's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix and served as Assistant Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services for the Division of Health Care Facilities and Emergency Medical Services. Now retired, she is an avid blogger and manages http://www.theselfimprovementblog.com,http://www.theselfesteemblog.com and hosts the Self Improvement Radio Show on VoiceAmerica. Irene lives in Fountain Hills, AZ and has two sons and four grandsons.