Nathaniel Branden


Canadian Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Author, Capitalist best known for his work on self-esteem and Ayn Rand's Objectivism Philosophy, Associate of Ayn Rand

Author Quotes

With regard to fear of the disapproval of others, the problem is not that you want to be liked. Who does not prefer being liked to disliked? The problem is where this desire stands in your hierarchy of values. Does it stand at the peak, above integrity and self-esteem? The question is not whether you want to be liked, but what you are willing to give in exchange. Are you willing to give up the judgment of your mind? The tragedy for many people is that their answer is yes. I call this a "tragedy" because so much suffering is traceable to this surrender.

You are not likely to bring out the best in people or nurture their creativity if every time you hear about their problems you instantly give a solution. Encourage people to look for their own solutions-and project the knowledge that they are capable of doing so.

You can hardly feel good about yourself if you are wandering around in a self-induced mental fog. If you attempt to exist unthinkingly, your sense of worthiness suffers, regardless of anyone else's approval or disapproval.

We live a lie when we misrepresent the reality of our experience or the truth of our being.

Your desire for love from others is inseparable from your desire for visibility. If someone professed love for you but when talking about what he or she found lovable named characteristics you did not think you possessed, did not especially admire, and could not personally relate to, you would hardly feel nourished or loved. You do not merely wish to be loved; you wished to be loved for reasons that are personally meaningful to you and that are congruent with your perception of yourself. Celebrities and beautiful people in general often feel invisible in spite of having numerous admirers precisely because they recognize that their fans are in love with their own fantasy of the person, not the real person.

We must be guided by our conscious mind, Rand insisted; we must not follow our emotions blindly. Following our emotions blindly is undesirable and dangerous: Who can argue with that? Applying the advice to be guided by our mind isn't always as simple as it sounds. Such counsel does not adequately deal with the possibility that in a particular situation feelings might reflect a more correct assessment of reality than conscious beliefs or, to say the same thing another way, that the subconscious mind might be right while the conscious mind was mistaken. I can think of many occasions in my own life when I refused to listen to my feelings and followed instead my conscious beliefs -- which happened to be wrong -- with disastrous results. If I had listened to my emotions more carefully, and not been so willing to ignore and repress them, my thinking -- and my life -- would have advanced far more satisfactorily.

Your life is important. Honor it. Fight for your highest possibilities.

We want answers, we want to feel we understand what is going on. If philosophers are telling us, "Don't even ask, it's naive to imagine that answers are possible," and if someone at last says to us, "Look no further, I have the answers, I can tell you, I bring clarity, peace, and serenity," it can be very tempting, very appealing and sometimes some of us end up in bed with the strangest people -- all because of the hunger for answers, the hunger for intelligibility.

What, in essence, does objectivism teach? What are the fundamentals of the Ayn Rand philosophy? Objectivism teaches: That reality is what it is, that things are what they are, independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, judgments or opinions -- that existence exists, that A is A; That reason, the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the various senses, is fully competent, in principle, to understand the facts of reality; That any form of irrationalism, supernaturalism, or mysticism, any claim to a non-sensory, non-rational form of knowledge, is to be rejected; That a rational code of ethics is possible and is derivable from an appropriate assessment of the nature of human beings as well as the nature of reality; That the standard of the good is not God or the alleged needs of society but rather "Man's life," that which is objectively required for man's or woman's life, survival, and well-being; That a human being is an end in him- or herself, that each one of us has the right to exist for our own sake, neither sacrificing others to self nor self to others; That the principles of justice and respect for individuality autonomy, and personal rights must replace the principle of sacrifice in human relationships; That no individual -- and no group -- has the moral right to initiate the use of force against others; That force is permissible only in retaliation and only against those who have initiated its use; That the organizing principle of a moral society is respect for individual rights and that the sole appropriate function of government is to act as guardian and protector of individual rights. So, Rand was a champion and advocate of reason, self-interest individual rights, and political and economic freedom. She advocated a total separation of state and economics, just as -- and for the same reason as -- we now have the separation of state and church. She took the position, and it is a position I certainly share, that just as the government has no proper voice in the religious beliefs or practices of people, provided no one else's rights are violated, so there should be freedom or production and trade between and among consenting adults.

When he is talking about raising our self-awareness and self-accept as well as freeing ourselves, he says ...the most important need is to say what we want, rather than to gain approval.

When I think of how I try to protect myself by denying my feelings and emotions...

When I was a child, I felt at times that I had been born into an insane asylum, that much of human life appeared to be an insane asylum. It was bewildering.

When we fight ourselves we keep ourselves in a state of conflict and tension.

When we seek to align ourselves with reality as best we understand it, we nurture and support our self-esteem. When, either out of fear or desire, we seek escape from reality, we undermine our self-esteem. No other issue is more important or basic than our cognitive relationship to reality ? meaning: to that which exists.

When you repress feelings you deny yourself access to key data.

When you repress thoughts or feelings you are avoiding something connected with pain.

When your principles seem to be demanding suicide, clearly it?s time to check your premises.

Whether one believes in a God, and whether one believes we are God's children, is irrelevant to the issue of what self-esteem requires. Let us imagine that there is a God and that we are his/her/its children. In this respect, then, we are all equal. Does it follow that everyone is or should be equal in self-esteem, regardless of whether anyone lives consciously or unconsciously, responsibly or irresponsibly, honestly or dishonestly? Earlier in this book we saw that this is impossible. There is no way for our mind to avoid registering the choices we make in the way we operate and no way for our sense of self to remain unaffected. If we are children of God, the question remains: What are we going to do about it? What are we going to make of it? Will we honor our gifts or betray them? If we betray ourselves and our powers, if we live mindlessly, purposelessly, and without integrity, can we buy our way out, can we acquire self-esteem, by claiming to be God's relatives? Do we imagine we can thus relieve ourselves of personal responsibility?

Another problem is that they are part of you, so you are diminishing your sense of self - he calls it disowning your feelings.

I remember as a child being enormously bewildered by the behavior of adults. I perceived the strangeness of superficiality in their values, a lack of congruence between their statements and feelings, an anxiety that seemed to saturate much of the atmosphere around me. And an overwhelming sense that often the adults did not know what they were doing. It seemed to me they were lost and helpless, while pretending to be in control. This experience was painful and sometimes frightening. I desperately wanted to understand why people behaved as they did. Somewhere in my mind, at quite a young age there must have been a conviction that knowledge is power, safety, security, serenity.

It is humiliating to realize that when you drive yourself underground, when you fake who you are, often you do so for people you do not even like or respect.

One difficulty with much of the research concerning the impact of self-esteem, as I said in the Introduction, is that different researchers use different definitions of the term and are not necessarily measuring or reporting the same phenomenon. Another difficulty is that self-esteem does not operate in a vacuum; it can be hard to track in isolation; it interacts with other forces in the personality.

Self-esteem is not the euphoria or buoyancy that may temporarily be induced by a drug, a compliment, or a love affair. It is not an illusion or hallucination. If it is not grounded in reality, if it is not built over time through the appropriate operation of mind, it is not self-esteem.

The practice of self-assertiveness: being authentic in our dealings with others; treating our values and persons with decent respect in social contexts; refusing to fake the reality of who we are or what we esteem in order to avoid disapproval; the willingness to stand up for ourselves and our ideas in appropriate ways in appropriate contexts.

We can't move successfully towards our goals by disowning what we are now. You cannot leave a place you have never been. You cannot leave an anger you have never accepted. You cannot let go of a pain you have never experienced.

Author Picture
First Name
Last Name
Birth Date

Canadian Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Author, Capitalist best known for his work on self-esteem and Ayn Rand's Objectivism Philosophy, Associate of Ayn Rand