Pop Psychology Spreads SBNR Values

No doubt about it, pop psychology spreads spiritual but not religious values.

Take for example, The Six Pillars of Self Esteem by best-selling author Dr. Nathaniel Branden. Why would SBNRs like a book like this? Well it probably has a lot to do with advice like “Your life is important. Honor it. Fight for your highest possibilities” (his italics).

Specifically, the six pillars are to practice

    1. Living consciously
    2. Self-acceptance
    3. Self-responsibility
    4. Self-assertiveness
    5. Living purposefully
    6. Personal Integrity

This formula repeats in a slightly shorter version in the advice in another SBNR classic and massive bestseller.  The Four Agreements  by don Miguel Ruiz offers this advice:

    1. Be impeccable with your word
    2. Don’t take anything personally
    3. Don’t make assumptions
    4. Always do your best

Back to Six Pillars, Branden worries about organized religion. He writes “Throughout history, wherever religion has been state enforced, consciousness has been punished.” Then he lays out his manifesto, which I am certain many SBNRs would happily pin to their fridges:

  • “If, in any culture, children are taught, “We are all equally unworthy in the eyes of God”
  • If, in any culture, children are taught, “You are born in sin and are sinful by nature”
  • If children are given a message that amounts to “Don’t think, don’t question, believe
  • If children are told “If you have  value, it is not because of anything you have done or could ever do, it is only because God loves you”
  • If children are told, “Submission to what you cannot understand is the beginning of morality”
  • If children are instructed, “Never think that you belong to yourself”
  • If children are informed, “In any clash between your judgment and that of your religious authorities, it is authorities you must believe”

Then consider what will be the likely consequence for the practice of living consciously, or the practice of self-assertiveness, or any other pillars of healthy self esteem (italics in original, 1994, 295-96).”

We live in an individualistic culture that thinks it is important to develop self-regard.  If religion threatens this…well you can see the problem.

Therapy culture supports many SBNR values, making it a key pillar of the modern SBNR movement.