Self-esteem is a person's fundamental sense that he or she is capable of and worthy of living. It thus has two components:
- A sense of efficacy, i. e., of one's ability to comprehend and deal with the world. In practice, this sense must be nurtured by means of a constant process of mental growth, continuing even through adulthood. A generalized sense of efficacy is maintained through the development of new particularized thinking skills. For instance (to cite an example from Nathaniel Branden ), the development of computer literacy may be extremely beneficial to the self-esteem of an older adult in today's society. The sense of efficacy consists in the recognition of one's general capacity, in contrast to the feeling of pride (p. 3.10:38), which stems from the recognition of one's specific achievements.
- A sense of self-worth, i. e., a conviction that one is worthy of living and of living well.