Self-Respect Can Be Learned
According to Merriam-Webster, self respect is defined as: 1: a proper respect for oneself as a human being and 2: regard for one’s own standing or position. But what does proper respect of one’s self really mean? It is the looking in the mirror and seeing someone of value. It is believing that you are as good as anyone else. E.E. Cummings wrote, “We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
Self Respect is not ignoring the fact that you have faults as a person. It is accepting that you have them and loving yourself despite them. It is knowing that making a mistake or failing at something does not define who we are inside. Many people think that it can be measured by the acts that they do, but self respect is about whom you are and not what you do on the outside. It is not about how we measure up to the person next to us. Our society of competition pushes people to be at their best and if they have strong self respect then they can weather the times when they do not come in first. However, for many it is a killer of both self esteem and self respect because there can only be so many winners in a competitive environment.
So how do we increase self respect? First, listen to how you talk to yourself! Carla Gordon is quoted as saying “If someone in your life talked to you the way you talk to yourself, you would have left them long ago.” This is so true. The kindest of people to others often is rarely kind to themselves. It is estimated that over 70% of what we say to ourselves is negative. If you put yourself down that much, you cannot help but have little respect for yourself. So, the first step, speak to yourself as you would want others to speak to you.
The next thing you can do is stick to your values. When we lie but have the value of honesty or when we hold resentments yet hold a value to be forgiving, we tear at the very fabric of our values. Every time you act in a manner that is support of what you believe, you increase your respect of self. We will focus on all the reasons we are ‘bad’ or ‘not worthy’ which adds to our negative self talk. But when we act in a manner that makes us smile or feel a sense of pride, we walk a little taller and with a little more pep.
One other thing that you can do is to treat others in the manner you wish to be treated. I know, the golden rule has been preached and preached. But face it, the reason that this saying has held throughout the years is that it is a basic truth. In regards to self-respect, when you treat others with respect, most will treat you back in the same way. This raises your value in your own eyes. Forgive others when they make mistakes and then forgive yourself when you make them. This simple thing is so powerful. It leads to the belief that you are exactly what you are meant to be, a constantly improving member of your community that has value and worth.
The last thing is to stand up for you. Hold to your boundaries and your beliefs, but do so with respect. Agree to disagree if you must for the sake of relationships but do not sacrifice your beliefs. Whenever you allow someone to compromise your boundaries and values, you not only lower yourself in their eyes, but yours as well. Believe that you deserve to have an opinion, happiness and success.
If you work to develop your self-respect, you will find that your relationships will improve. Those you work with and for will seem more amiable and you will notice what you do well more and more. It is a cyclic event. The more you realize that you do things right and well, the more you will see the things you do right and well. The more you see it in yourself, the more others will see it in you as well. And if one must chose to do business between two people; one who cannot look you in the eye and that their mannerisms show a lack of self respect and another who has a warm handshake, a bright and honest smile and a posture of pride; the one with self respect will always win. Remember what Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without consent.” Never give it!
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