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

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?

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.

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.

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

If we do not believe in ourselves- neither in our efficacy nor in our goodness- the universe is a frightening place.

No pain is so destructive as the one you refuse to face.

Productive achievement is a consequence and an expression of health and self-esteem, not its cause.

The essence of self-assertion is to respect your own values and to live by your own judgment. In this way you experience integrity.

To live consciously means to seek to be aware of everything that bears on our actions, purposes, values, and goals?to the best of our ability, whatever that ability may be?and to behave in accordance with that which we see and know.

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