by Nathaniel Branden
The possession of self-esteem does not provide a man with automatic immunity to errors—errors about life, about other men, about the appropriate course of action to pursue that may have painful emotional consequences. Rationality does not guarantee infallibility.
But a healthy self-esteem gives man an inestimable weapon in dealing with errors: since his own value and the efficacy of his mind are not in doubt, since he does not feel that reality is his enemy, he is free to bring the full of his intellectual powers and knowledge to the task of identifying facts and of dealing with problems. The foundation of consciousness is secure, so to speak.
To the extent that a man lacks self-esteem, his consciousness is ruled by fear: fear of reality, to which he feels inadequate; fear of the facts about himself which he has evaded or repressed. Fear is the antithesis of thought.
If a man sees himself as helpless and ineffectual, his actions will tend to confirm and reinforce his negative self image- thus setting up a vicious circle. By the same principle, a man who is confident of his efficacy will tend to function efficaciously. A man's self-appraisal has profound motivational consequences, for good or for bad. Its most immediate impact is felt in the quality and ambitiousness of his thinking.
The nature of a man's self-esteem and self-image does not determine his thinking, but it affects his emotional incentives, so that his feelings tend to encourage or discourage thinking, to draw him toward reality or away from it, toward efficacy or away from it.
Excerpts from : The psychology of self- esteem
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