Self Esteem

By Leo Gura - May 1, 2014 | 17 Comments

A deep look into each sub-component of low self esteem.

Video Transcript

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Hey, this is Leo from, and in this video I’m going to talk about self-esteem.

Let’s break into this topic of self-esteem. Self-esteem is a very rich and deep topic. It affects the quality and the success you have in your life, and also the happiness level you achieve in your life. A lot of the information I’m bringing to you here is coming from Nathaniel Branden’s amazing, seminal work on self-esteem which is called The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem.

We’re going to go into some definitions of what self-esteem is. We’re going to define it. We’re going to talk about some of the influences on self-esteem, why you might have low self-esteem and how you might go about correcting it.

We’re actually going to go in and break down and look at each of the six pillars that Nathaniel Branden talks about. It’s a very rich topic, so I encourage you to buy the book if you really want to know a lot more. This is going to be kind of an introductory segment, where I really tell you why self-esteem is important and what you should be doing with it.

What is self-esteem? Let’s take a technical definition, and really it’s a two part definition. I’m going to read this off. This is how Nathaniel Branden states it:

“Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as competent to cope with the basic challenges of life, and as being worthy of happiness.”


This is a really powerful definition. It’s got two components to it, as you can see. The first component is called self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is your ability to think for yourself and direct your own life. How competent do you feel you can create a good life for yourself? How competent do you feel you can take care of yourself and handle the things that need to be handled?

That’s one big part of self-esteem. Where do you rank yourself on that? Ask yourself. On a scale of one to ten, would you say you have low self-efficacy? That would mean a one. Or do you have a very high self-efficacy? That would be a ten.

High self-efficacy means that you think you can go out there and create the kind of life that you want. You’re not a victim. You can do whatever you want. You feel like you have the power. You feel that yes, there are tough situations in life, but no matter what happens, ultimately you can sort it out.

If you’ve got a bad relationship, you can sort that out or find a new relationship. If you’ve got a bad job, you can figure that part out in your life, or you can go find a new job. If you’ve got trouble with your health, or with anything else — your education, anything — you feel that, ultimately, you have control. You are the master of your own life, when it comes down to it.

If you’re at that kind of level, then you’re at ten. If you’re at the opposite end of that spectrum, then you feel like you can’t do anything in life. You feel like you’re a victim. You feel like the world is hemming you in, that basically, your hands are tied behind your back. You feel like you’re crippled. You feel like the world is out to get you, that it’s against you, that society is structured to hold you back. That is low self-efficacy.


That’s the first part. The second part of low self-esteem is self-respect. How much do you respect yourself? Do you believe that you have value, inherently, as a human being, as you are right now? Do you believe you have a right to be happy? Do you believe you deserve to be happy? Do you believe people in relationships deserve must treat you well, that you deserve to be treated well, that you don’t deserve to settle for anything in life?

You don’t need to suffer on behalf of anyone. You don’t need to endure situations. You don’t need to be miserable. You don’t need to be a victim. You deserve to be confident. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be strong. You deserve everything that you want.

Where do you rank yourself on that? Let’s put a scale on that as well. On a scale of one to ten, if you’re at a one, that means you have no self-respect. That means you don’t value your own happiness. You are a doormat. You let other people walk all over you. Because you do that, people gladly come in there and victimize you and take advantage of you, because you’re a doormat.

On the other hand, if you have very high self-respect, then what do you believe? You believe you are valuable. You believe you are the most valuable thing in life, because this is your life. You are the center of it. You are the most valuable thing.

You have an absolute right to be happy. You don’t need to go and change yourself for other people. You can be happy right now, as you are, and you deserve everything you want. That would be a ten. Rank yourself there.

Basically, we’ve got these two components — self-efficacy and self-respect. Ideally, you want to be at ten on both of these. There’s no reason you should be anything less than a ten. You want full self-efficacy, full control over your life, or at least the feeling of control. You want full self-respect — deserving happiness, having inherent value.

Self-Esteem Is On The Inside

Self-esteem is nothing external. This is an important point to make. Self-esteem has everything to do with the internals, your mindsets, who you think you are, your beliefs, your self-image, your subconscious mind. That’s where the self-esteem is coming from. That’s where it’s operating.

This is not about people. This is not about life. This is not about external circumstances. This is not about your boss or the wife that nags you, or the husband that abuses you. It’s not about that. Self-esteem is here. It’s inside. This is all what I call inner game. This is your psychology at play.

You’ve got to ask yourself, where are you on these scales? If you’re watching a video about self-esteem, I can probably assume you’re somewhere low on this. A high self-esteem person is confident, assertive, life is going relatively well for them. Even if there is trouble, they feel confident they can go and fix it.

It’s the low self-esteem person that really runs into problems. If you’re at ones on both of these scales, then it’s going to be very hard for you to live an extraordinary life. In fact, your life is going to be very miserable. You feel like your hands are tied behind your back. You feel like you can’t change anything. You also feel like you don’t deserve to be happy.

This is the kind of situation that will lead to abuse. This is the kind of situation that will lead to a very miserable type of life, a very dysfunctional type of life — dysfunctional relationships, perhaps drug abuse, various negative addictions that hold you back, basically everything that robs you of your dreams and your potential.

It’s very important to, first of all, recognize where you are on these scales. Go ahead and write down your numbers. After you figure out where you are on these scales, if you’re low — and by low I would say if you’re at a four or below — then you’ve got to tell yourself that “OK, I’ve got a self-esteem issue. I’ve got low self-esteem. This is not the end of the world. I’m not to blame.”

Don’t blame yourself for it. Don’t get discouraged, don’t get disheartened. This is just being honest. This is being introspective. This is an honest evaluation of where you’re at right now. Now you recognize you’ve got some work to do. You’ve got to want to fix this problem.

First, to fix the problem, you’ve got to recognize you even have one. This is good, that we’ve quantified it. Now you know where you’re at. If you’re above a four, you’re doing pretty good. That’s probably average. If you wanted to, you could work on it, or you could keep doing what you’re doing, maybe have other priorities, other issues you want to worry about.

If you’re at an eight or above, you’re doing awesome. You’ve got no problems at all. You probably even have a little bit too much self-esteem. Maybe that self-esteem is causing you problems. Maybe you’re a little too arrogant, a little too sure of yourself. That can get you into some trouble. It can even play out like that.

Generally, high self-esteem is awesome, if you don’t go totally overboard and don’t abuse it. For the low self-esteem people: the first thing you’ve got to realize is that what we’re talking about with these numbers, this is a general level of self-esteem. This is not one particular moment where you felt crippled, or like you had no control.

This is not one particular moment where you felt like you shouldn’t be happy. You’re going to have ups and downs throughout your days and throughout your weeks, so that’s okay. It’s an average. What we’re taking here is maybe a weekly or a monthly average of your self-esteem. Don’t expect it to always be perfect. It’s never going to be always at a ten.

Even someone who’s at a ten level of self-esteem on average has days when they’re feeling like they can’t do anything, they’re feeling like a victim. They’re going to have parts of their life where they feel like they don’t have control, or where they don’t feel like they can be satisfied. That’s OK. What we’re doing here is taking in average. We’re getting a general scope of where you’re at.

The Causes Of Low Self-Esteem

Let’s talk a little bit about some of the causes of low self-esteem. We know what self-esteem is, it has these two components. What are some of the causes? Most self-esteem issues are self-image issues. The self-image — I’ve got other videos that talk specifically about self-image and the subconscious mind and ego, you might want to check each one of those out — but self-image is basically an internal model of who you think you are.

This is who you think you are. This is who you think you should be, how you should behave, what your values are, how you see other people as perceiving you, what you perceive your strengths and weaknesses as, all this. These are all beliefs.

A lot of this self-image is completely unconscious. It’s operating within you, in your mind, deep down in there. You probably don’t’ realize even a little sliver of everything that’s in that self-image. That self-image could be negative. That self-image could be limiting you in many, many ways.

One of the ways it can be limiting you is that it’s creating some sort of belief about who you inherently are. This is where, I think, most self-esteem issues come from — negative images and beliefs about who you think you are.

Maybe you feel like you’re not smart, like you’re an inherently stupid, unintelligent person. Maybe you feel like you’re not attractive, physically or in other ways. You feel like you’re not attractive to the opposite sex. Maybe you feel like you’re clumsy, you’re a clumsy person. Maybe you feel like you’re bad with money. Maybe you feel like you’re bad in relationships.

Maybe you feel like you’re very shy. Maybe you feel like there’s something else wrong with you, or just a general sense that something’s wrong with you. Maybe you feel like you’re unlovable. Maybe you feel that you’re not perfect, the way you are right now. Maybe you feel like you don’t deserve happiness. Maybe you feel like you have to work really hard to acquire love and happiness.

Maybe you feel like you’re bad with money. All of these could be potential limiting beliefs you have, somewhere in your self-image. Usually, where these come from his childhood. As a child, growing up from the age of three to the age of twelve, you’re very impressionable. A lot of times, if you grow up in a family situation that’s not very stable and stuff happened, you might’ve had a stray situation that came in there and left a big negative impression.

Maybe someone told you you were fat when you were a kid. Maybe someone told you you were ugly. Maybe someone told you you’re going to be a failure and not amount to anything. Maybe someone told you they don’t love you and nobody ever will. Maybe a parent told you this, maybe someone at school told you this, maybe a bully told you this, a sibling — whoever.

Somehow, you now have this programming running in the back of your mind and it is causing you to feel unconfident. It’s causing you to feel like you don’t have control in life. It’s causing you to feel like you don’t deserve what other people deserve.

You see other people out there, and they’re being happy. They’re being very confident. They’re going out there and taking action, but you feel like you’re crippled because you’ve got one of these emotional scars operating deep down inside of you. This is a really deep issue, and I can’t get into all of it here. You can get therapy for that kind of stuff.

You can get coaching for that kind of stuff. I coach people around that. You can also do your own personal development to start to iron those things out. I have many other video that cover those types of techniques more in depth. You’ll want to search for those.

In this video, I’m just going to say a lot of your self-esteem issues are rooted in your childhood or some other traumatic events. If you’ve never sat down, you might want to sit down and do a little bit of journaling. Look back at your life, if you have low self esteem, and just see what are some of the incidents that could have caused that.

It’s important to go back there and start to dig around a little bit. It’s going to give you more awareness and more understanding of what is really going on. It’s going to help separate you from it. Right now, if you’ve got low self-esteem, you’re very attached to it. You feel like it’s really you. It couldn’t be otherwise.

Not Set In Stone

You know what? That self-image, it’s very malleable. You can totally change it. That’s the nice thing about all this. With enough personal development work, introspection and therapy or coaching or whatever techniques you use, books, seminars, however you want to do it, you can work through all that stuff and get yourself back into a high level of self-esteem.

This stuff is all changeable. We’re not pegging you at any place. We’re saying “This is where you are. Now do a little bit of work and you can be at ten.” I think the best way to fix self-esteem is through deep inner work, being very honest, looking very deeply into your past, really psychoanalyzing yourself.

Then — action. Going out there and starting to take action and starting to correct this stuff. Once you understand what the problems are, then you also start to get a sense of what the solutions are, and what the actions are you need to take to start to correct that. There are many books out there that will help you figure out exact action steps. You can get coaching on it, like I said, or therapy.

Enough of that. That’s how to fix it. What I want to cover before I leave is the six pillars of self-esteem themselves, as Nathaniel Branded talks about in the book. He literally has mountains of words to say about each one. Here, I’m going to just gloss over them.

The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem

What are the six pillars of self-esteem? You can actually follow these to start to build yourself up. You can also rank yourself on each one of these pillars, just to see exactly where your self-esteem is focused in, which of these pillars.

The first pillar is the practice of living consciously. Are you living your life consciously? Are you aware? Are you mindful of the behaviours and thoughts you’re having? If you’re not, then you’re going to have low self-esteem. If you are, you’re going to have high self-esteem.

The second pillar is the practice of self-acceptance. Do you or do you not accept yourself as you are? Do you always criticize and judge yourself, and tell yourself you have to be better, smarter, prettier, and all these types of things? Can you just accept yourself and be happy with who you are? That greatly affects your self-esteem level.

The third pillar is the practice of self-responsibility. Do you actually take responsibility for your life? Not just the good parts, but the bad parts too. This is a two way street. You can’t just take responsibility for the good stuff. You’ve got to take responsibility for the bad stuff too, the stuff you think is hurting you the most, the place where you feel like a victim.

Are you willing to take responsibility for it? If you’re not, you’re going to stay stuck a victim, and you’re going to have low self-esteem. Self-responsibility is critical.

The fourth pillar is the practice of self-assertiveness. How assertive are you? How assertive are you, especially around other people? How assertive are you with your own values, your principles, your own philosophy, your own goals?

Do you feel like this is something that’s important, that it’s worth fighting for? That you have to go out there and fight for, even in the face of resistance from others? It’s really important to build up your assertiveness. That also builds up your confidence, and that is going to build up your self-esteem.

The next pillar, pillar number five, is the pillar of living purposefully. Do you have a purpose in your life? Do you have something that your life is about, something that’s important, something that’s greater than just yourself? Do you have a life purpose?

I’ve so many videos that talk about life purpose. I think this is one ofthe most important ideas in all personal development. To be happy, to be confident, to be peaceful in your life, and to be successful too, you need to have a sense of purpose. That’s pillar number five.

The final pillar, pillar number six, is personal integrity. Do you have personal integrity? What that means is, do you live up to your own expectations of yourself? Or are you always faltering? Are you always being lazy? Are you failing to execute on the things you know you need to execute?

Are you keeping your own promises to yourself? Are you living in line with your own highest values? If you’re not, your self-esteem is going to be shot. If you are, your self-esteem is going to go through the roof.

Those are the six pillars of self-esteem. You can take a look at each one of those and see where you’re lacking, and then you can create a programme for yourself to focus on, and to start to work your way out. If you need help with that, get coaching.

Wrap Up

This is Leo, I’m going to be signing off. This I what I have to say about self-esteem. Go ahead and post me your comments down below. I love to hear feedback. Please like this, please share it. Click the like button right now, spread the word.

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How do you do that? What I’ve discovered is the best way to do that is to become a hobbyist of personal development. Watch this material, whether it’s my material or somebody else’s material, or reading books, or attending seminars. You have to keep up with it.

As you’re keeping up with it, that is what keeps you on track with your dreams. If you just watch one video and you forget it, then you’re never going to really get the full growth, nowhere near the growth you could be getting. You’re going to be leaving so much on the table.

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Once again….powerful information. Now that I understand it, I can take action. I’m on it! Thanks Leo!

Nancy says:

Thank you so very much for your hard work and help. What you help us with is very valuable. Thank you for being you. You have a keen sense of knowing what is important.

Leo Gura says:

My pleasure

Susie says:

Leo ..thank you for Making these video to help us all live happier fulfilled life.. I’m sharing you with all my friends who I know can benefit from your knowledge..thanks for sharing

Leo Gura says:

Thanks for spreading the word

Ashray says:

I think I need to be better smarter prettier etc, but I also believe I have that in control, I know I can change it. What does it say about self-esteem.

pathetic girl says:

Does self esteem help you to get over the shame of your own mistakes that everybody knows about ???????
I brought shame to my family and I’m afraid of my colleagues because I don’t know how to defense my self when I know I am 100% did something wrong in the past

Leo Gura says:

Your question is based on several false assumptions. Firstly, that shame is somehow redemptive and helpful. Secondly, that shame comes from outside of you.

If you do something “wrong”, the best solution is to simply admit it and DO NOT beat yourself for it AT ALL! Shame is an ego game.

As your self esteem increases, you still start to see more and more how pointless and self-destructive shame is. Just drop the whole fucking thing. Pretend like shame doesn’t exist. It’s a mind game. You make a mistake? So what? Mistakes are just mistakes. Shame shouldn’t come into the equation.

It will be hard to swallow this judging merely by your username. You’re gonna feel that shame is necessary and good in some way, and you’ll continue doing it even if you decide not to. So go work on your self esteem!

Melissa says:

I really enjoy your videos. Just wondering if you have ever thought about doing anything on parenting ?

Leo Gura says:

I’m not a parent so I don’t want to say much about it.

I will shoot one video though: How To Raise Psychologically Stellar Children, which will be a holistic view of all the principles of healthy psychology that I discovered in my studies.

David says:

Hi Leo, I’m an Armenian. Thanks for videos you sharing with other people and changing peoples lives.

I find that internal confidence is not fairly enough to act yet. I feel that I born with the feeling that I deserve to live up with my values but I really lacking of the courage to go and take action. I’m just don’t have necessary control over my self on which I’m working on, but what is that particular thing that will help most to start going there and executing. I am doing baby steps and I’m noticing very nice changes but is there any thing that can cover this particular problem?

Heidi says:

Hello Leo, great video by the way, thanks so much for sharing.

Much appreciation,

sneha says:

hey i have noticed i follow all these pilllars when im more self assertive when i dont care about what people are thinking of me. when i be myself. but when i hide my true self i drop to a lower loevel of conciousness, wont accept myself. wont take responsibilty etc because in order to fit in i stopped following my authentic self anfd tried to copy others. what do i do? i want to stop caring what people think of me in social situations . you said that there is no authentic self its continuously changing. true does it mean what i am at the moment i f i want to act like myself its what im feeling at the moment? i have that actualised self mindset when i think im important and matter and dont care about others

Suzi says:


After a random search I found this video about a year ago. This is where my personal development program started. With your videos and my therapist, I’m on my way to an abundant life. You have literally saved my life. Many thanks to you.

Best Regards,

Max Gron says:

Some of the authorities here on this website I challenge, I’m talking about manipulation. Leo is an insecure control freak who thinks he can change your character, messing with your head. You can’t change people, for months I only changed because Leo has my consent to change me, not because I let him control me. I won’t be controlled, I’m not making radical changes, I would’ve never listened to his ridiculous logic if my housemate didn’t ruin my life in the first place, I place Leo’s authority on making my life better and mind you I changed enough, I’m only 10% a changed man, the other 90% is acting exactly like I’m 27 years old (I’m almost 39). But given these human concepts nobody take those concepts of mine seriously, if I threw my beliefs on you expecting to be treated equal to everything that carries such rules of life nobody takes it seriously, they don’t take it as having any power, if it’s atheism it’s not being taken seriously, if it’s weirdness no one is taking me seriously, they’re not taking my weirdness as anything good or as a right or weirdos to get cater to or equal treatment. It doesn’t work that way, in fact it just doesn’t work, nothing ever does, no belief in the world even the beliefs I made up is ever going to work, if I give my authority to someone else’s beliefs then those beliefs don’t work, no one is believing them, they only believe individual or weird beliefs of your own, except for the belief that you’re a robot, I gave my authority to this invention, it’s something I invented, there are other people these days who also share my belief that you’re a robot, and those are minorities. Normal people parrot everyone without ever thinking for themselves, it’s the fear of reason and the fear of slavery. What a way to attack reason, what a way to attack all forms of normalism by constantly calling me crazy, it’s not just said spur of the moment and forgotten, it’s said repeatedly and it’s no ordinary opinion, it’s a way to attack all the normality I stand for, attacking my normalistic philosophy, trying to force me to disbelieve. I don’t disbelieve.
The main point is self-esteem, I have no self-esteem, I have no confidence, that’s not actually a bad thing, I love my despair, I wanna be in despair. Why is reality such a freaky, scary, cowardly existence with everyone who feels unlucky to meet me? I admit if I had self-esteem then it cuts off the discussion on my self-esteem issues entirely. I look up to Leo for my problems, but my problems are all because of my housemate Kenneth Wayne bloody Stringer! He’s such a nuisance of a baby as to cause me to only see grey and never bright sunshiny colours. He’s 62 years old and already a problem to solve, he’s already a no-fun, high maintenance child! He expects me to see something to confirm it true, well I won’t, that’s the difference between rational people and empiricist people. He’s an extrovert but he’s also an introvert who stays in bed always asking me the annoying question “what’s it like outside?”, if he bothered to get out of bed and be more extroverted and less weird he wouldn’t be having these problems not knowing in the first place. He’s sick, he wonders, he has things he hates, he badmouths Australia every time there’s a pandemic, he’s a pathological right hand path religious freak, he’s an empiricist (it’s a serious problem, because he never just knows), he doesn’t bother to go out more to know what anything is like, he doesn’t know anything, who thought a depressed man can be so ignorant? He’s ignorant, he’s the biggest ignoramus I’ve ever seen, God he’s ignorant! People think I’m ignorant, well I’m not, my system of believing, acting and living only allows knowledge as to how to believe and do it. I happen to know a lot. I even know when to not know. Why do people with self-esteem issues and depression play this game with me, trying to fuck with my mind? People just want to be ignorant and not know when to stop acting this way, ignorance is bliss to them.

Max Gron says:

I don’t think these things anymore, I have consciousness, Leo’s got a good thing going, but I don’t got it, I can’t do any of this success, it’s impossible.
Further down the line none of this will or can happen to me, I have to get my hands dirty and exercise the wisdom, awakening, enlightenment, etc in his other videos, for existence, God and the universe (not quoting Leo), and that’s enough, I’m satisfied, my money psychology needs work, but no longer do I need to learn how to become a millionaire, I have my own success going on. As for self-esteem, I’m cranking that up doing not my previous, usual normal life (I think I lost my touch in acting normal), but this extraordinary life as it is, it won’t get any better than it is so I’m left to my own devices.

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