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

Note: A clear understanding of the following concepts is the single most important requirement for building sound self-esteem.

1. Every human act is a response to a personal need. The more intense the need, the more intense the response or motivation.

2. Our ultimate or basic need is to "feel good," to have a satisfying sense of worth and innate importance, regardless of our mistakes and what others may say or think of us.

3. Both our needs and their intensity are determined by our current state of awareness.

4. Our actions are but the means we choose to fulfill our needs. Such means are determined by our awareness.

5. Inspection discloses that we are each solely responsible for our own life and well-being. We, therefore, have the innate authority to do whatever we see fit.

6. There is, however, a price exacted for everything we do, refuse or neglect to do. If we are to act harmoniously, we must know the price in order to decide intelligently if we are able and willing to pay it.

7. The price we pay for our actions is determined by the unwanted consequences of our proposed act, including any expenditure of time, money, emotional and/or physical energy, plus any foregoing of competing needs and desires.

8. Although we can do anything we want, what we most want, what we would rather do than not do, i.e., our motivation, is determined by our awareness.

9. A searching examination of our actions discloses that we can do only what we are motivated to do, i.e., only what we would rather do than not do. There is no other reason possible for doing anything!


10. Our exercise of "free will" is, therefore, limited to what we or others can motivate ourselves to do.

11. Since our motivation is determined by our awareness, and since we can do only what we are motivated to do, everything we do is literally dictated by our awareness.

12. Moreover, since we can do only what we most want to do, "will power" is per se nothing more or less than "desire power," actually an intensified motivation. For example, if we try to stop smoking and fail, it is not because of "weak wills," but because our "will power" to smoke is so strong that it outweighs our desire to stop smoking.

13. Now, although our awareness is in a continual state of change, at the instant of any decision it is "what it is"—as fixed and rigid as a steel bar.

14. And, since our awareness determines our motivation, at any given instant there is one and only one decision we can possibly make.

15. Therefore, we all do the only thing we can possibly do at the time, for we can do only what our prevailing awareness dictates.

16. Thus, we all do the best thing we can possibly do at that particular instant.

17. Although we don't have to like what we or others do, and even though an action may not be "right" or "fair," there is absolutely no rational justification for condemnation, shame, blame, guilt or remorse, for no one can do better than his

18. Furthermore, all moral admonitions, all "oughts," "shoulds" and "musts" are irrelevant to our conduct if our prevailing awareness does not allow us to comply. For example, to "know better" is not sufficient to cause us to "do better" if to "do better."


19. Likewise, there can be no valid justification for punishment as such (or for pride or reward), for our awareness is but the automatic product of our heredity, Inner Knowing, and total life experience. It simply is what it is at the time of any action.
Thus, we all do what we "have to do" at the time, be it "good,"
"bad" or indifferent.

20. Moreover, since we can do only what our prevailing awareness dictates, there is no logical basis for psychological resistance and resentment of an unwanted situation or another's conduct. Although we do not have to like it, and although it may not be "right" or "fair," it IS the REALITY of the moment—no other action is possible at that time for that individual.

21. Inspection also discloses that we are not our "actions"; we are "that which acts." Our actions are but the means we choose to fulfill our needs.

22. Thus, we are not "bad" because we act "bad." We are but the victims of our limited or distorted awareness. (Johnny is not a "bad" boy because he slams the door when his mother has a headache. He is simply not sufficiently aware.)

23. Everyone has the innate authority and freedom to make mistakes, for although we are responsible for our individual well-being, we can do only as well as our prevailing awareness motivates us to do.

24. Furthermore, since we are not our actions, there is no justification for feeling ashamed, guilty, or "less than" for our mistakes.

25. From the foregoing statements, it is evident that there is a rational basis for empathy and compassion for those who act their actions prove to be.


26. Since we can do only what our awareness permits us to do, there are only "wise" and "unwise" acts.

27. Consequently, the terms "good" and "evil" are simply reflections of one's current state of awareness.

28. Nevertheless, no matter how limited and distorted our awareness, we are each inescapably responsible for our actions, both wise and unwise, for we inevitably benefit or suffer according to the consequences of our every act.

29. It is evident that we are not our awareness, that we are that which is aware. Therefore, no one is "bad," intrinsically less worthy, or inferior for having an extremely limited and distorted awareness.

30. The foregoing facts indicate that although we are all in varying states of awareness, in different stages of learning and growth, regardless of nationality, race, creed or color, we are all intrinsically equal.

31. It follows that everyone's prime responsibility is learning and growing—the expansion of one's individual awareness, for we each invariably profit or suffer according to the wisdom or lack of wisdom in our every thought and action.

32. Our only limitation is our limited awareness! How About the Consequences?
It is not always apparent that one "suffers" the consequences of antisocial and hurtful acts. One can, in fact, betray his wife or friends, gyp his neighbors, swindle the public, take advantage of widows and orphans, and commit various nefarious acts, and seem to get away "scot-free." Such, however is not the case.


We do not have to observe the law of compensation—"It is done unto us as we do unto others"—to know that we inevitably pay the price for our injurious acts to others.

As stated earlier, our basic need is to "feel good" about ourselves. Human beings are so constituted that it is impossible for us to "feel good" about ourselves when we knowingly injure another. We may refuse to recognize our hurtful act, to "harden our heart," and turn off our conscience. Everyone, however, is innately good and has a deep urge, however hidden, warped or beaten down, to be "godlike,"
to express goodness and love.

When this drive is thwarted through a limited awareness and a misdirected need to "feel good," our conscience goes underground and gnaws at self-worth and the obscured sense of lightness, thus keeping us from enjoying the fruits of injurious acts. With the ability to "feel good" about ourself long since gone down the drain, we pay and pay an ever increasing price in emotional turmoil, self-disgust, and loathing as misdeeds mount in a continuing attempt to achieve fulfillment of the distorted need for money, power and prestige—for approval and acceptance—actually, the desperate need to "prove our worth" in order to become acceptable in our own eyes.

Next:  Increasing Your Awareness Through Self-Exploration (go into the book).

Then:  Human Behavior Process Diagram