(Excerpted from L.S. Barksdale, Building Self Esteem, PDF copy)


Since self-esteem is a feeling rather than an intellectual inventory of our assets, changing it entails a revision of the factors of our awareness that caused the feelingsof inadequacy and inferiority.

The method we have developed has proven very effective for replacing these false and unsound factors of our awareness with sound concepts and then acting in accordance with the new concepts. The method consists of three separate and distinct steps, all of which are essential to our success in building sound self-esteem.

1.  Expanding Your Awareness
2.  Reprograming Your Awareness
3.  Take Direct Action (Program)


As has been stressed earlier, increasing our awareness is crucially important, not only to building sound self-esteem, but also to enabling us to achieve more harmonious, effective and happier lives.

What We Mean by Awareness

It is essential to your understanding of the following principles of human behavior that you keep clearly in mind what we mean by "awareness." Remember, our AWARENESS is how clearly we perceive, understand and evaluate, both consciously and nonconsciously, everything that affects our lives.  (See Sufficient Knowing.)

Its Nature: Our awareness is the automatic product of our heredity, i.e., everything we brought into the world with us, our Inner Knowing or intuitional insights, and our total life experience which has been directly responsible for all our conditioning. While our awareness is constantly being expanded by the cause and effect relationships we
experience, if so motivated, we ourselves can deliberately increase it. We are all in the process of becoming more aware. However, at any given point in time our awareness is what it is—the automatic product of our heredity, our Inner Knowing and our total life experience.  Thus, while it is indeed fortunate to have a high degree of awareness, logically one can no more take credit for it than he can be blamed for having a clubfoot. Conversely, neither has one any basis for embarrassment or shame because of an extremely limited and distorted awareness.  (Read You Are Where You Are Because You Couldn't Have Been Anywhere Else, So Forget About Wishing Otherwise.)


Everyone is unique in his or her degree of awareness, for no two people in the world have exactly the same heredity, Inner Knowing and total life experience. Thus, no one can be a valid reference as to what another "should" or "should not" be or do in any situation or circumstance. We are each the beneficiary or victim, as the case may
be, of our individual awareness. How wisely or unwisely we may act is completely determined by the relevant factors of our awareness, for it is the pertinent factors of our awareness that determine our every choice. To the degree that our perception and understanding of "what is" are limited and distorted, will our needs and actions be
distorted, inappropriate and destructive.

Its Scope: "Awareness" is a very comprehensive term. It incorporates many factors, including everything we perceive with our five senses as well as everything we perceive instinctively and intuitively, both consciously and non-consciously. It is the product of the conditioning of our entire life experience and our innate intelligence and intuition. Our awareness is responsible for our insights, inner urges,
emotional reactions, and every decision we make.

Our awareness includes the following specific factors:

1. Our intellectual acumen, our individual ability to observe, analyze, correlate and evaluate all experience, both negative and positive, and to accurately anticipate the total cost and benefits of any decision or action we might take;

2. Our Inner Knowing or intuitional insights, and our instinctual and subconscious drives and urges;

3. Our total conditioning, both conscious and non-conscious, resulting from our entire life experience from birth to the present instant, for it is our total life experience that has
formed our concepts, assumptions, values, ideals, beliefs, convictions, learned knowledge, memories, skills, etc.;

4. The effects of our conditioning: our moods, attitudes, emotional reactions, prejudices, habits, desires, fears, aspirations, goals and, most important of all, how we feel deep down about ourselves, our sense of personal worth and importance in the scheme of things.


Roadblocks to Increasing Your Awareness

To the degree that the following conditions are true for you, you will experience difficulty in consciously expanding your awareness:

1. Reluctance or fear to accept responsibility for your own life and well-being;

2. Insufficient motivation to spend the necessary time and effort to increase your awareness—lack of recognition of the crucial importance of increased awareness to your inner peace and happiness;

3. Resistance to new ideas and change—a conditioned plane of reference, a biased, closed and rigid mind;

4. Inability to recognize and accept your innate authority to examine and question accepted values, concepts and assumptions, and then draw your own conclusions;

5. Self-condemnation and recrimination that prevent a deep probing into your emotional reactions and mistakes, into your distorted needs and unacceptable motivations.

Revising Your Concepts of Human Behavior

Personally, I am deeply convinced of the truth of the following concepts. I perceive them to be the actual operating principles of human behavior. However, if they are to be meaningful, and therefore, of significant benefit to you, it is essential that you conscientiously check their validity in your own behavior and that of your associates.

Before we proceed with our investigation, it is vital to have a clear understanding of just what we mean by "motivation" since everything we do hinges on our motivation.


Contrary to popular opinion, everyone is always motivated, for we can do nothing we are not motivated to do. Everyone, sick or well, active or lazy, is motivated. For example, the man dozing in the sun is motivated to sit and doze in the sun. Otherwise he would be doingsomething else. We can do only what we are motivated to do, consciously or non-consciously. We cannot even get up out of a chair unless we are so motivated.

What We Mean By Motivation: To be "motivated" is to want to do a specific thing more than we want to do anything else at that particular time. Even though we may not be aware of the specific desire, motivation is what we most want to do in the sense of "what we would rather do than not do." If we probe deeply enough into our own and others' specific actions, provided that we can withhold all value judgments during the process, we find that there is simply no other reason possible for doing anything, even though we may not always be aware of it.

There are many things that motivate us. Probably the greatest handicap to understanding motivation is our conditioned concept that we "want" to do only what we find pleasure in doing, what we "enjoy" doing. Such is not the case.

Let us look behind "motivation." When we do so it is apparent that every human act is a response to a personal need or desire. Our basic need is to be comfortable, mentally, physically and emotionally—to enjoy a sense of inner peace and well-being. Thus, our fundamental motivation, in a total sense, is to "feel good," or at least to feel as good as the existing conditions will allow.

To go a step further, it is also apparent that our unfulfilled needs generate tensions. Thus, to "feel good," i.e., to feel comfortable, we must resolve or satisfy these tensions.

Such tensions may be generated by fear, cold or pain; our hunger for food or sex; our need for attention, to win, to succeed; our need for confirmation and agreement,
for acceptance and approval, to be liked or loved; our fear of what others may think or say; or any type of force or coercion. 

For example, I may have a strong value against bearing arms and killing my fellow human beings. If, however, I am faced with the alternative of personal disgrace or going to prison, or possibly getting shot, I might well be motivated to bear arms. The deciding factor would be my willingness or unwillingness to pay the price demanded for not going to war.


Unless I perceive how I can benefit my particular need by the proposed act or endeavor, I will continue with what I am currently doing. For instance, for me to get out of bed in the morning, I must perceive that by doing so I am fulfilling a personal need. My need
may be to get some food in my stomach, to meet my personal commitment to be active and productive, to keep from losing my job, or simply to maintain the approval of my neighbors. Normally, of course, I operate under several nonconflicting motivations at any given time, such as the desires to achieve material success, improve my golf game, and please my wife.

In the final analysis, motivation is simply a matter of perceiving that the potential benefits of a given action outweigh the price demanded, and that the action is the most desirable alternative available for meeting the need in question. Most personal confusion and conflict stem from not clarifying our motivation, from not making a complete decision to pay or not to pay the price demanded for our competing desires.

To change our motivation, we must first become aware of either a greater need or a more beneficial means of fulfilling our existing need. Such a change in our awareness may come about through our own or others' efforts, or simply through the force of circumstances.  It is essential, however, that if the change is to come through our own
conscious efforts, we ourselves have the awareness to be motivated to make such efforts. To say one should or should not do a certain thing is, therefore, quite meaningless if the individual does not have the awareness to be so motivated.

Now, here are the concepts, or as I see them, the relevant facts of human behavior.


Next:  The Realities Of Human Behavior