Understanding The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem: A Complete Guide

Feeling insecure, timid or under-confident is something many of us grapple with daily. Renowned psychologist Nathaniel Branden proposed an effective solution through his groundbreaking concept – “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem.” This blog will guide you through understanding these pillars and how to apply them, empowering you to build a rock-solid foundation of self-esteem and confidence.

Ready to embark on your journey towards unshakeable self-belief?

The Definition of Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is the overall opinion and evaluation of oneself, including feelings of self-worth and self-confidence.

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is how much you like yourself. It’s about feeling worthy and happy with who you are. If your self-esteem is high, you know your worth. You don’t let others make you feel small or bad.

Yet, it is not being full of yourself or thinking you are better than others. Self-esteem means you can see what’s good in yourself but also accept your flaws. When we mess up, people with healthy self-esteem do not hate themselves for it.

They learn from their mistakes and move on.

How is it different from self-compassion?

Self-esteem and self-compassion are two close friends. But they have some key differences. Self-esteem is about how we view ourselves. It talks to us about our worth and value. On the other hand, self-compassion is more than just that.

Self-compassion has three parts in it – kindness, humanity, and mindfulness. It’s like being kind to yourself when you make a mistake or fail at something rather than beating yourself up over it.

The talk goes softer on mistakes and failures with a lot of care for oneself.

Another difference comes out when looking at how we handle difficult situations. When things go south, people with high self-esteem might blame others to protect their ego, while those who practice self-compassion accept the reality of the situation as part of life’s ups and downs without pointing fingers but learning from it.

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem

A diverse group of individuals supporting each other in a community setting.

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem are essential components for building confidence and empowerment in one’s life.

Living Consciously

Living consciously is part of self-esteem. It means paying attention to your feelings and thoughts. You don’t ignore them, you take note. This way, you know what makes you happy or sad.

Knowing yourself well is also key to living consciously. You understand your strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge helps in making good choices for yourself.


Self-acceptance is an important pillar of self-esteem. It means accepting and embracing yourself just as you are, including your flaws and imperfections. When you practice self-acceptance, you stop comparing yourself to others and focus on appreciating your own unique qualities.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t strive for personal growth or improvement, but it does mean accepting yourself in the present moment without judgment or criticism.

Self-acceptance is about recognizing your worth and value as a person. It’s understanding that you don’t need external validation to feel good about yourself. Instead, it comes from within.

By practicing self-acceptance, you develop a positive mindset that allows you to have more confidence in who you are.

One way to cultivate self-acceptance is by reframing negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself. Challenge those critical inner voices and replace them with positive affirmations instead.


Self-responsibility is one of the six pillars of self-esteem. It means taking ownership and being accountable for your actions, choices, and emotions. When you practice self-responsibility, you understand that you have control over how you react to situations and that your happiness depends on your own actions.

You don’t blame others or make excuses for your mistakes; instead, you take charge and learn from them. This pillar helps you build trust in yourself and shows others that you are reliable and trustworthy.

Being self-responsible also means recognizing your power to change things in your life. By acknowledging that you have the ability to make choices that align with your values, goals, and well-being, you can create positive changes for yourself.

This includes making decisions about how to spend your time, who to surround yourself with, and what steps to take towards personal growth.

Taking responsibility for yourself empowers you because it gives you a sense of control over your own life. Instead of waiting for things to happen or relying on others to solve problems for you, self-responsibility encourages action and initiative.

It allows you to be proactive in pursuing what matters most to you.


Self-assertiveness is an important pillar of self-esteem. It means expressing your needs, wants, and opinions in a healthy and assertive way. When you are self-assertive, you communicate your thoughts and feelings respectfully without being aggressive or submissive.

This helps others understand your boundaries and allows you to stand up for yourself effectively. Building self-assertiveness involves developing good communication skills, practicing saying “no” when necessary, and expressing your ideas confidently.

It is an essential skill that can help you build confidence and empower yourself.

In Nathaniel Branden’s book on self-esteem, he emphasizes the importance of self-assertiveness in our personal growth journey. By being assertive, we can advocate for ourselves in various aspects of life – whether it’s at work, with friends or family members or even in intimate relationships.

Living purposefully

Living purposefully is one of the key pillars of building self-esteem and empowerment. It means setting goals and pursuing activities that are meaningful to you. When you live purposefully, you have a clear sense of direction and alignment with your values and passions.

You prioritize what truly matters to you, which gives your life meaning and fulfillment.

By living purposefully, you can make choices that align with your values, which helps to build a sense of integrity within yourself. This pillar encourages you to take action towards your dreams and aspirations, giving you a sense of accomplishment as you move closer to achieving them.

Living purposefully involves being proactive in shaping your life rather than passively letting circumstances dictate it.

When living purposefully, remember that it’s not about achieving perfection or meeting others’ expectations. It’s about understanding what truly brings joy and satisfaction to your life and taking steps towards those things.

Whether it’s starting a new hobby or pursuing a career change, living purposefully allows for personal growth and self-fulfillment.

Personal integrity

Personal integrity is an essential pillar of self-esteem and personal growth. It means being true to yourself and living in alignment with your values and principles. When you have personal integrity, you act in ways that are honest and ethical, even when no one is watching.

You take responsibility for your actions and do what you believe is right, regardless of external pressures or influences.

Having personal integrity can greatly impact your self-esteem because it allows you to maintain a sense of self-respect and inner strength. By staying true to who you are, you build confidence in your decisions and choices.

This pillar reminds us that we have the power to make choices that align with our values, leading to a more authentic and fulfilling life.

Practicing personal integrity involves making conscious choices based on what we believe is right rather than seeking approval from others. It requires reflection on our values, honesty with ourselves, and the courage to stand up for what we believe in.

How to Build Self-Esteem: 6 Practices

In this section, we will explore the six practices that can help you build self-esteem and develop confidence in yourself: living consciously, practicing self-acceptance, taking self-responsibility, embracing self-assertiveness, living purposefully, and cultivating personal integrity.

The practice of living consciously

Living consciously is the first pillar of building self-esteem and confidence. It means being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions in the present moment. When you live consciously, you take time to reflect on yourself and understand your strengths and weaknesses.

By doing this, you can make better decisions that align with your values and goals. Living consciously also involves staying mindful of your emotions and how they influence your behavior.

This practice allows you to be more intentional in how you respond to challenges or setbacks in life.

To live consciously, it’s important to pay attention to both the positive aspects of yourself as well as areas for improvement. This helps foster self-acceptance and growth. By practicing living consciously regularly, you can develop a deeper understanding of who you are and what matters most to you.

This awareness contributes greatly to building self-esteem because it allows for personal growth, positive mindset shifts, and increased confidence in oneself.

The practice of self-acceptance

Self-acceptance is a crucial pillar in building self-esteem. It means embracing yourself for who you are, including your strengths and weaknesses. Instead of focusing on what you lack or comparing yourself to others, self-acceptance involves recognizing and appreciating your unique qualities and abilities.

It is about being kind and compassionate towards yourself, treating yourself with love and respect.

When you practice self-acceptance, you develop a positive mindset that allows you to see the good in yourself. You acknowledge that nobody is perfect and that it’s okay to have flaws and make mistakes.

Self-acceptance also involves letting go of negative self-judgment and forgiving yourself for past errors.

By practicing self-acceptance, you can enhance your self-worth and confidence. You start believing in your abilities and value as an individual, which empowers you to pursue personal growth and embrace new challenges without fear of failure.

The practice of self-responsibility

Self-responsibility is a crucial pillar of self-esteem. It means taking responsibility for our actions, choices, and emotions. When we practice self-responsibility, we stop blaming others or making excuses for our behavior.

Instead, we recognize that we have control over how we respond to situations and take ownership of our lives. By accepting responsibility for ourselves, we gain a sense of empowerment and become active participants in shaping our own destiny.

This pillar encourages us to be accountable for the consequences of our decisions and strive to make positive changes in our lives.

Taking self-responsibility doesn’t mean being hard on ourselves or expecting perfection. Instead, it means acknowledging that we are capable of making mistakes and learning from them.

It also involves recognizing that our happiness and success depend on the effort we put into achieving them. When we embrace self-responsibility, we become more aware of the choices available to us and take intentional steps towards personal growth.

The practice of self-assertiveness

Self-assertiveness is the fourth pillar of self-esteem and it involves expressing your needs, wants, and opinions in a healthy and assertive manner. It means standing up for yourself without being aggressive or passive.

When you practice self-assertiveness, you communicate openly and honestly while respecting the rights of others. By speaking up for yourself, you create boundaries and advocate for what matters to you.

This helps build confidence by showing that your thoughts and feelings are valid.

When practicing self-assertiveness, it’s important to remember that everyone has the right to their own opinions and beliefs. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but it’s crucial to express your own perspective respectfully.

Being true to yourself and asserting your needs can lead to healthier relationships because people will know where you stand.

In order to develop self-assertiveness, start by identifying what is important to you. Reflect on your values, desires, and goals so that when situations arise where assertiveness is needed, you can clearly articulate your position.

Practice assertive communication by using “I” statements instead of blaming or accusing others. Express yourself confidently but also listen actively when someone else speaks.

The practice of living purposefully

Living purposefully is an important pillar of self-esteem. It means setting meaningful goals and pursuing activities that align with your values and passions. When you live purposefully, you have a clear sense of direction in life, which can boost your confidence and empower you to take action.

By identifying what matters most to you and making choices that support your values, you can experience a greater sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Living purposefully also involves being proactive in creating the life you want rather than just going through the motions.

Taking steps towards your goals can give you a sense of control over your own destiny and contribute to a positive mindset.

To practice living purposefully, start by reflecting on what truly matters to you. Ask yourself what brings meaning and fulfillment into your life. Set specific goals that align with those values and create an action plan to achieve them.

Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks so that they feel more attainable. Celebrate small wins along the way as this can keep you motivated and reinforce your self-confidence.

By living purposefully, not only will you strengthen your self-esteem but also cultivate a deeper connection with yourself and find more joy in everyday life.

The practice of personal integrity

Personal integrity is an important pillar of self-esteem. It means living in alignment with your values and principles. When you have personal integrity, you are honest and authentic in your actions and interactions with others.

You do what you believe is right, even when it’s difficult or unpopular. This practice builds trust within yourself and with others, as people know they can rely on you to do what you say you will do.

Personal integrity also helps you maintain a strong sense of self-worth and confidence because you are staying true to who you are at all times.

Practicing personal integrity involves being aware of your values and making choices that align with them. By consistently acting in line with your beliefs, even when faced with challenges or temptations, you cultivate a sense of inner strength and conviction.

External Influences on Self-Esteem

External influences can have a big impact on our self-esteem. People like teachers, parents, managers, and therapists can all play a role in shaping how we feel about ourselves. If they provide us with support, encouragement, and positive feedback, it can greatly boost our self-esteem.

But if they are critical or constantly belittle us, it can really bring down our confidence.

Another external influence on self-esteem is the society we live in. When society places a lot of emphasis on appearance or success, it can make us feel inadequate if we don’t measure up to those standards.

Media also plays a role by promoting unrealistic beauty ideals and comparing ourselves to others.

However, it’s important to remember that while external influences do affect our self-esteem, ultimately it’s up to us to build and maintain it. We have control over how we perceive ourselves and how much weight we give to other people’s opinions.

By practicing the six pillars of self-esteem and surrounding ourselves with positive influences and supportive relationships, we can counteract the negative effects of external influences on our self-worth.


In conclusion, understanding the six pillars of self-esteem is a crucial step in building confidence and empowerment. By living consciously, accepting ourselves, taking responsibility for our actions, asserting our needs, living purposefully, and maintaining personal integrity, we can develop a strong sense of self-worth and belief in ourselves.

With practice and awareness, we can cultivate these pillars in our lives to achieve greater happiness and fulfillment. Say goodbye to doubts and hello to a more confident you!


1. What are the six pillars of self-esteem?

The six pillars of self-esteem are living consciously, accepting oneself, taking responsibility for one’s actions, asserting boundaries, practicing self-assertiveness, and living with integrity.

2. Why is building self-esteem important?

Building self-esteem is important because it helps us feel confident in our abilities and worthiness. It allows us to have healthier relationships, make better decisions, and pursue our goals with determination.

3. How can I start building my self-esteem?

You can start building your self-esteem by acknowledging your strengths and achievements, setting realistic goals for yourself, practicing positive affirmations or self-talk, surrounding yourself with supportive people, and seeking professional help if needed.

4. Can low self-esteem be improved?

Yes, low self-esteem can be improved through various strategies such as therapy or counseling, practicing self-care and mindfulness techniques regularly, challenging negative thoughts and beliefs about oneself, and celebrating small victories along the way.