You Deserve Respect

So give it to yourself.

“To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves - there lies the great, singular power of self-respect”. - Joan Didion

Self Respect stands apart from the approval of others and reputation. It has nothing to do with any measure of external success. Take a moment to think about that.  If you’re waiting to appreciate and respect yourself until you earn and DESERVE it by achieving some measure of success, you’re missing the point. Furthermore, it is highly likely that no achievement will ever be enough to bring forth self respect.

We all make mistakes. We do things wrong. We fuck things up all the time. A person with self respect can see and acknowledge those fuck ups as preventable some times and inevitable others. But their self worth and respect doesn’t fluctuate as they look back over their catalog of failures -- a catalog we all keep, but one that those without self respect carry like a burden, a testament to inadequacy.

How do we develop self respect?

It comes when we cultivate our characters and let that character consistently guide our conduct.  In this way, self respect is often brought forth through discipline. What is it you value and believe?  Do you act accordingly?  Once these are answered affirmatively, the door to a world of self respect opens.

Walking through that door, however, requires practice.  For those who never experienced unconditional love, respecting ourselves unconditionally (a type of love really) can seem foreign and even radical. There’s no magic bullet, no New Year’s Day vow, that will simply transform you into respecting yourself. 

But here are some behaviors that people with self respect practice. So as you do the deeper work on character, values and self love, you can fake it till you make it by acting in ways that respect the self.

  • Give up Criticism -- Especially of yourself, but of others as well.  We are our own worst critic.  Much of our criticism of others comes because we hold ourselves to strict, often unforgiving standards. Start letting all that negativity go. It’s not serving you in the ways you might think.  There are better ways to motivate yourself than with self loathing and criticism.  And the world needs less critical and negative people.
  • Safeguard your Time -- Time is our greatest resource and yet we give it away as if it were meaningless. Someone who never says NO, clearly has little self respect.  They’re on a path to please and achieve things other people value -- adrift in a sea of uncertainty about their own values, they see little reason to refuse well-meaning requests. Respect your agenda in life. Safeguard your resources so that you can do what it is you need to do to advance your life, your values and your vision of character.
  • Take Care of Yourself -- An offshoot of safeguarding resources, making time to care for yourself, first, is an essential practice of self respect. You don’t have to become a CrossFit champion or even be in your weight range, but you need consistent sleep, movement and healthy food. You can’t take care of the internal work of self respect and completely neglect the external vessel carrying you through life.
  • Challenge Yourself -- It’s good to be content, joyful and grateful. It is also good to be a lifelong learner. Learning new things often makes us uncomfortable. Try and embrace and work through challenges, understanding that this is part of the valuable process of life. Overcoming a challenge, or trying and failing to overcome a challenge, should bring pride and that transforms into self respect. So attempt to learn new things and then give yourself credit for that attempt at growth and change whether you succeed or not.

And remember that respect is contagious. People respect those that respect themselves.

Human Unlimited
Human Unlimited