Stoicism on Courage: The 6 Pillars of Developing Self Esteem And Confidence

Today’s episode has been inspired by my good friend Nathaniel Branden, author of the self-help book “The 6 Pillars of Self Esteem“. It is a fantastic book if you are interested in the subject. Definitely check it out.


Stoicism holds these 4 concepts in extremely high regard:

1- Courage

2- Wisdom

3- Self Control

4- Justice

The reason is simple. Stoics view these 4 main concepts as virtues – only behaviors that are inherently good.

Only the act of practicing virtues has the ability to make you truly happy. You can not achieve this state of happiness through external gains but only through internal cultivation.

Most often in our lives, it is a requirement to do bold and painful things if we want to create an extraordinary life for ourselves.

Very few good things in life come quickly. You need to put in the sweat and work. You need to be patient and strategic. You need to prepare for something that is going to pay off years down the road.

You need to have that vision.

This takes courage.

Not everybody is willing to develop it. But let me tell you something. No feeling is as satisfying as the feeling of creative contribution – having a positive impact in the world.

We may have that difficult conversation with our family and partners. About how we might struggle financially for a while until pursuing our life’s purpose pays off.

We may get into fights with our close friends. They may not support us on this journey. We may feel all alone – like a wolf in lamb’s clothing.

In these circumstances, you need to practice courage. In order for us to do that, we need to develop self-confidence and self-esteem.

In this episode, we’ll be looking at the 6 main pillars of self-esteem. But first, let’s define what self-esteem is.

Self-esteem is not an idea or an affirmation. It’s a form of practice.

Most people like to talk about ideas, memorize inspiring words and get an intellectual understanding of something.

But it’s what we do that leads to our self-esteem. Self-esteem is practiced by taking action on bold things. A ‘practice’ implies a discipline of acting in a certain way over and over again consistently.”

As Robert Greene put it in his book 48 laws of Power,

“Everyone admires the bold, no one honors the timid.”

You need to establish boldness as a way of life.

So, let’s remember it’s not about memorizing inspiring words or having stimulating conversations, it’s about practicing and living our core truths.

Let’s dive into the first pillar.



The practice of living consciously is the first pillar of self-esteem.

Here is our practical exercise: practice sentence completions. This is a powerful tool for living more consciously.

Basic idea: Take a sentence stem (like “Living consciously to me means . . .”) and create six to 10 completions of that sentence. The only rule is that each ending needs to create a grammatical sentence. Write quickly, don’t stop to think, and as Branden advises: “Any ending is fine, just keep going.”

Try these on:
• If I bring 5 percent more awareness to my activities today . . .
• If I pay more attention to how I deal with people today . . .
• If I bring 5 percent more awareness to my insecurities then . . .
• If I bring 5 percent more awareness to my priorities then . . .



Self acceptance is the cure for perfectionism and unhappiness. It is a great supplement to the super effective Stoic technique, Negative Visualization.

Branden beautifully articulates the need to practice self-acceptance:

“We can run not only from our dark side but also from our bright side — from anything that threatens to make us stand out or stand alone, or that calls for the awakening of the hero within us, or that asks that we break through to a higher level of consciousness and reach a higher ground of integrity.”

“The greatest crime we commit against ourselves is not that we may deny or disown our shortcomings, but that we deny and disown our greatness — because it frightens us.”

Understand that you are whole and complete as you are. No one expects perfection from you.

If you are over-weight and you think less of yourself, DON’T DO THAT!

Accept what is. Love yourself regardless.

When you are ready, you can always get into a healthy diet like Ketogenic Diet. You can do intermittent fasting with weight lifting. And then see the amazing transformation after a couple of months.

I don’t care what type of problems you have, there is always a solution. But even without one, you are still you. Why not accept yourself the way you are instead of beating yourself up?

In addition to the acceptance of ourselves, Branden advises us that “nothing does as much for an individual’s self-esteem as becoming aware of and accepting disowned parts of the self. The first steps of healing and growth are awareness and acceptance — consciousness and integration.”




“I am responsible for my choices and actions,” Branden writes. “To be ‘responsible’ in this context means responsible not as the recipient of moral blame or guilt, but responsible as the chief causal agent in my life and behavior.”

Even if your actions are obstructed, your intentions are untouchable.

Let’s look at some examples.

You want to start a business but Paypal is not supported in your country?

– No problem. There are a lot of alternative payment processors.

– You want to become a writer but think that your grammar and narration style is bad since you are not native?

No problem. Everyone’s first draft sucks. You might have to spend a couple of years learning the basics of grammar and vocabulary before writing your book.

Meanwhile, you can read many books and increase your life experiences which will directly affect your writing style and quality. At the end of the day, time is your ally if you are willing to work smart.

As Marcus Aurelius says:

“Our actions may be impeded, but there can be no impeding our intentions or our dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt.

The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting.

The impeding to action advances action.

What stands in the way becomes the way.”

We’re responsible when we’re able to respond to life’s challenges as healthy, autonomous human beings —not as victims, blaming this or that for our challenges, but as individuals who own our abilities to manifest our desires as we engage in life.




“To practice self-assertiveness is to live authentically, to speak and act from my innermost convictions and feelings — as a way of life, as a rule,” Branden notes.

The essence of this pillar is to be real. To drive this point home, remember the idea that “authentic” and “author” come from the same root. To be authentic is literally to be the author of your own story.

The question is: Are you the author of your own life? Are you the one who writes the words on the page?

Our intuition has a way of telling us whether we are aligned with our values or not. It is what we call “the gut feeling”.

We can not quite explain why but some force inside of us bothers us. Telling us that we are not fulfilling our highest potential.

– Maybe you are feeling down because your job is not resonating with your inner core values.

– Maybe you put up with a crappy boyfriend/girlfriend because they bring meat on to the table and you feel like you are not be able to contribute to the workforce anymore.

– Maybe you always had that secret desire to write that life-changing book but you were always scared that it wouldn’t sell well or nobody would read.

In these circumstances, the answer is clear. Listen to your intuition. Your values are telling you that something is wrong. Take action. Get out of your own head.

Stand up for what you believe in.

Because if you don’t, no one else will.



It is no doubt that knowing where you are going contributes to self-esteem.

What is the alternative anyways?

To be aimless? To drift here and there with the wind?

You are much better than that.

A solid life’s purpose grounds you. It brings clarity to what matters.

“To live purposefully,” Branden explains, “is to use our powers for the attainment of goals we have selected: the goal of studying, of raising a family, of starting a new business, of solving a scientific problem, of building a vacation home, of sustaining a happy romantic relationship. It is our goals that lead us forward, that call on the exercise of our faculties, that energize our existence.”

So, what are your goals?

What deeply inspires you?

These aren’t things that you think would impress others, but the visions that deeply resonate with your highest values and ideals.

Here is what I suggest:

Take a pen and paper.

Write down your ultimate vision for your career.

What impact do you want to have in the world?

Branden notes: “People rarely ask themselves, ‘If my goal is to have a successful relationship, what must I do? What actions are needed to create and sustain trust, intimacy, continuing self-disclosure, excitement, growth?’”

First question: What do you want?

Second question: What must you do? What is the exact step by step training process?

As Branden reminds us: “Purposes unrelated to a plan of action do not get realized. They exist as frustrated yearnings.”



Without practicing personal integrity, the preceding practices disintegrate. “Integrity is the integration of ideals, convictions, standards, beliefs — and behavior,” writes Branden. “When our behavior is congruent with our professed values, when ideals and practice match up, we have integrity.”

Do your ideals, convictions, standards, beliefs and behavior all line up?

This is a simple question but it can take some time to understand it fully.

The key is understanding what type of person you are.

-Are you an altruistic person?

-Are you someone who is purely motivated by money? By sex? By materialism?

-What are your weak sides? How good are you socially?

-Would you consider yourself selfish or selfless?

-What do you think our society should be like? Do Wars never change? Or should humans improve their psychological development and teach themselves how to live in peace?

And, perhaps even more important, do you have a sense of what your ideals, convictions, standards and beliefs are to use as a basis for measuring how you’re doing?

– Do you have an internal moral compass?

If you’ve found value in this article, share it with your friends. Let’s get everyone on board.

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