Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

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

"Reason and emotion are not antagonists. What seems like a struggle is a struggle between two opposing ideas or values, one of which, automatic and unconscious, manifests itself in the form of a feeling."

"Sometimes the subconscious mind manifests a wisdom several steps or even years ahead of the conscious mind, and has its own way of leading us toward our destiny."

"For the rational, psychologically healthy man, the desire for pleasure is the desire to celebrate his control over reality. For the neurotic, the desire for pleasure is the desire to escape from reality."

"The feeling that "I am enough" does not mean that I have nothing to learn, nothing further to achieve, and nowhere to grow to. It means I accept myself. It means I am not on trial in my own eyes. It means I value and respect myself. This is not an act of indulgence but of courage."

"Persons of high self-esteem are not driven to make themselves superior to others; they do not seek to prove their value by measuring themselves against a comparative standard. Their joy is being who they are, not in being better than someone else."

"There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity."

"Faith is the commitment of one's consciousness to beliefs for which one has no sensory evidence or rational proof. When man rejects reason as his standard of judgement, only one alternative standard remains to him: his feelings. A mystic is a man who treats his feelings as tools of cognition. Faith is the equation of feelings with knowledge."

"Romantic love is a passionate spiritual-emotional-sexual attachment between a man and a woman that reflects a high regard for the value of each other's person."

"The natural inclination of a child is to take pleasure in the use of the mind no less than of the body. The child's primary business is learning. It is also the primary entertainment. To retain that orientation into adulthood, so that consciousness is not a burden but a joy, is the mark of the successfully developed human being."

"There is only one reality - the reality knowable to reason. And if man does not choose to perceive it, there is nothing else for him to perceive; if it is not of this world that he is conscious, then he is not conscious at all."

"The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance."

"In a world in which the total of human knowledge is doubling about every ten years, our security can rest only on our ability to learn."

"How do we keep our inner fire alive? Two things, at minimum, are needed: an ability to appreciate the positives in our life – and a commitment to action. Every day, it's important to ask and answer these questions: ‘What's good in my life?’ and ‘What needs to be done?"

" It's not just that you raise your level of awareness in regard to some problem, but you sustain the level of awareness over time... isn't so much that an awareness heals, but it is sustained awareness that heals"

"Self esteem is the reputation we acquire with ourselves."

"It is generally recognized that creativity requires leisure, an absence of rush, time for the mind and imagination to float and wander and roam, time for the individual to descend into the depths of his or her psyche, to be available to barely audible signals rustling for attention. Long periods of time may pass in which nothing seems to be happening. But we know that kind of space must be created if the mind is to leap out of its accustomed ruts, to part from the mechanical, the known, the familiar, the standard, and generate a leap into the new."

"There is no value-judgment more important to a man--no factor more decisive in his psychological development and motivation--than the estimate he passes on himself."

"Innovators and creators are persons who can to a higher degree than average accept the condition of aloneness. They are more willing to follow their own vision, even when it takes them far from the mainland of the human community. Unexplored places do not frighten them- or not, at any rate, as much as they frighten those around them. This is one of the secrets of their power. That which we call "genius" has a great deal to do with courage and daring, a great deal to do with nerve."

"The ideal of romantic love stands in opposition to much of our history, as we shall see. First of all, it is individualistic. It rejects the view of human beings as interchangeable units, and it attaches the highest importance to individual differences as well as to individual choice. Romantic love is egoistic, in the philosophical, not in the petty, sense. Egoism as a philosophical doctrine holds that self-realization and personal happiness are the moral goals of life, and romantic love is motivated by the desire for personal happiness. Romantic love is secular. In its union of physical with spiritual pleasure in sex and love, as well as in its union of romance and daily life, romantic love is a passionate commitment to this earth and to the exalted happiness that life on earth can offer."

"The music that inspires the souls of lovers exists within themselves and the private universe they occupy. They share it with each other; they do not share it with the tribe or with society. The courage to hear that music and to honor it is one of the prerequisites of romantic love."

"We are anxious when there is a dissonance between our "knowledge" and the perceivable facts. Since our "knowledge" is not to be doubted or questioned, it is the facts that have to be altered."

"Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is more important than the judgment we pass on ourselves."

"In any culture, subculture, or family in which belief is valued above thought, and self-surrender is valued above self-expression, and conformity is valued above integrity, those who preserve their self-esteem are likely to be heroic exceptions."

"Positive self-esteem operates as, in effect, the immune system of the consciousness, providing resistance, strength, and a capacity for regeneration. When self-esteem is low, our resilience in the face of life's adversities is diminished. We crumble before vicissitudes that a healthier sense of self could vanquish. We tend to be more influenced by the desire to avoid pain than to experience joy. Negatives have more power over us than positives."

"If we do have realistic confidence ... if we feel secure within ourselves, we tend to experience the world as open to us and to respond appropriately to challenges and opportunities. Self-esteem empowers, ennergizes, motivates. It inspires us to achieve and allows us to take pleasure and pride in our achievements."

"Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is more important than the judgment we pass on ourselves. That judgment impacts every moment and every aspect of our existence. Our self-evaluation is the basic context in which we act and react, choose our values, set our goals, meet the challenges that confront us. Our responses to events are shaped in part by whom and what we think we are—our self-esteem. "

"To preserve an unclouded capacity for the enjoyment of life is an unusual moral and psychological achievement. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the prerogative of mindlessness, but the exact opposite: It is the reward of self-esteem."

"It was the United States of America, with its system of limited, constitutional government, that implemented the principle of capitalism-free trade on a free market-to the greatest extent. In America, during the nineteenth century, people’s productive activities were for the most part left free of governmental regulations, controls, and restrictions; most thinkers considered themselves thoroughly emancipated from the discredited economic policies of medievalism, mercantilism, and precapitalist statism."

"Self-esteem is the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and of being worthy of happiness. It consists of two components: 1) self-efficacy—confidence in our ability to think, learn, choose, and make appropriate decisions; and 2) self-respect—confidence in our right to be happy; and in the belief that achievement, success, friendship, respect, love and fulfillment are appropriate to us."

"Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life, and as being worthy of happiness. Thus, it consists of two components: (1) self-efficacy — confidence in one’s ability to think, learn, choose, and make appropriate decisions; and (2) self-respect — confidence that love, friendship, achievement, success — in a word, happiness — are natural and appropriate."

"The tragedy is that so many people look for self-confidence and respect everywhere except within themselves, so they fail in their search."

"A depression is a large-scale decline in production and trade... there is nothing in the nature of a free-market economy to cause such an event."

"A consciousness cannot trust itself if, in the face of discomfiting facts, it has a policy of preferring blindness to sight. A person cannot experience self-respect who too often, in action, betrays consciousness, knowledge, and conviction ? that is, who operates without integrity. Thus, if we are mindful in this area, we see that self-esteem is not a free gift of nature. It has to be cultivated, has to be earned. It cannot be acquired by blowing oneself a kiss in the mirror and saying, ?Good morning, Perfect.? It cannot be attained by being showered with praise. Nor by sexual conquests. Nor by material acquisitions. Nor by the scholastic or career achievements of one?s children. Nor by a hypnotist planting the thought that one is wonderful. Nor by allowing young people to believe they are better students than they really are and know more than they really know; faking reality is not a path to mental health or authentic self-assurance. However, just as people dream of attaining effortless wealth, so they dream of attaining effortless self-esteem ? and unfortunately the marketplace is full of panderers to this longing."

"A fear that is experienced and acknowledged can be dealt with."

"A woman in love will do almost anything for a man, except give up the desire to improve him."

"And what is Atlas Shrugged if it is not a hymn to the glories of this earth, this world, and the possibilities for happiness and achievement that exist for us here? What is Atlas Shrugged if it is not a celebration of the human mind and human efficacy? And isn't this just what the young so desperately need? And not just the young, but all of us? To be told that our lives belong to ourselves and that the good is to live them and that we are here not to endure and to suffer but to enjoy and to prosper -- is that not an incalculably valuable gift? So these are some of the great benefits of the philosophy of Ayn Rand."

"A productive purpose to which you give yourself fully and joyfully is one of the great adventures of life. It is a uniquely human source of happiness."

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

"An emotion is both a mental and a physical event."

"Another misconception ? very different from those I have just discussed ? is the belief that the measure of our personal worth is our external achievements. This is an understandable error to make but it is an error nonetheless. We admire achievements, in ourselves and in others, and it is natural and appropriate to do so. But this is not the same thing as saying that our achievements are the measure or grounds of our self-esteem. The root of our self-esteem is not our achievements per se but those internally generated practices that make it possible for us to achieve. How much we will achieve in the world is not fully in our control. An economic depression can temporarily put us out of work. A depression cannot take away the resourcefulness that will allow us sooner or later to find another or go into business for ourselves. ?Resourcefulness? is not an achievement in the world (although it may result in that); it is an action in consciousness ? and it is here that self-esteem is generated."

"All growth involves saying good-bye to some things and saying hello to new possibilities."

"Anyone who engages in the practice of psychotherapy confronts every day the devastation wrought by the teachings of religion."

"Ayn Rand has an incredible vision to offer -- in many respects a radiantly rational one. I am convinced that there are errors in that vision and elements that need to be changed, eliminated, modified, or added and amplified, but I am also convinced that there is a great deal in her vision that will stand the test of time."

"Ayn [Rand] always insisted that her philosophy was an integrated whole, that it was entirely self-consistent, and that one could not reasonably pick elements of her philosophy and discard others. In effect, she declared, "It's all or nothing." Now this is a rather curious view, if you think about it. What she was saying, translated into simple English, is: Everything I have to say in the field of philosophy is true, absolutely true, and therefore any departure necessarily leads you into error. Don't try to mix your irrational fantasies with my immutable truths. This insistence turned Ayn Rand's philosophy, for all practical purposes, into dogmatic religion, and many of her followers chose that path."

"Between the ages of 24 and 27, I read Freud's complete works, everything that had been translated into English. It was very stimulating intellectually. But I did not accept his view of neurosis or of human nature."

"Blocking our feelings impairs solid contact with our own inner experience."

"Blaming is a dead-end. What is needed is to focus on solutions, which entails discovering your own resources and mobilizing the will to use them. What are you willing to do to make your life better?"

"Chances are, when you were young, you were told, in effect, Listen, kid, here is the news: life is not about you. Life is not about what you want. What you want is not important. Life is about doing what others expect of you. If you accepted this idea, later on you wondered what had happened to your fire. Where had your enthusiasm for living gone?"

"Denying feelings might work in short term and as a child, but not in long term, and not as an adult."

"Don't change yourself to get other people to like you."