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Respect Yourself

March 14th 2012 04:56
‘That you may retain your self-respect, it is better to displease the people by doing what you know is right, than to temporarily please them by doing what you know is wrong.’
William J. H. Boetcker

Respect for yourself is something that many people find difficult to achieve and live by 100% of their lives. What does it actually mean to have respect for yourself? In my thinking, it means being true to your values and beliefs, as long as your beliefs are functional. It would be an error to stay true to a belief that you were not worthy of success or achieving greatness, which everyone is, in whatever way that may be.

In the quote above, William Boetcker reminds us how much of a challenge it can be to maintain your self-respect. How often have you or I or someone we know done something to keep the peace or ensure another party isn’t hurt, and then feel we have perjured ourselves in the bargain? When you do something that gives you a sick feeling somewhere in your body, you can be sure you are not living to your values. Therefore, you are not respecting yourself and possibly other people too.

The most important person in your life, the most consistent person in your life is you. A simple truth perhaps but we usually spend so much of our lives and time working out how we should not displease others that we lose sight of the need for some selfishness mixed in with the selflessness. And then we hit another pothole on the road to respecting oneself, the wrongness of being selfish. Oh dear, how long have we allowed that to be a driver in certain cultures? I know my upbringing involved a lot of thou shalt nots referring daring to put myself before others.

Mind you, not many GenYs suffer from a lack in being self oriented. Much as this age range is often maligned by some older gens, is there something to learn from their ability not to become so attached to age old expectations and demands of society: to toe the line, do as you should do (should?), be respectable? These young people might say they are out to enjoy their lives and not be a slave to it. Are they living to their values? Would the older gens agree with these values? Does it matter, if the future is theirs?

I found a couple of self-respect quotes that linked it to self discipline.

‘Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.’ Abraham Heschel

‘Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that's real power.’ Clint Eastwood

Your values are a set of measures and certainties you hold about the world that are the core of how you live your life. Clearly to both writers above, self-respect and discipline are strong values. I have a whole list of values listed from A – Z, that I found at in an article he wrote: abundance, accountability, achievement, adaptability, certainty, cheerfulness, congruency, country, courage, creativity, curiosity, daring, decisiveness, decorum, dependability, etc. Worth a look if you’re not sure about values.

Bear in mind your values are not set in concrete, or at least I’d suggest they shouldn’t be. They are what you feel about life right now, in the current situation and life experience you are in. That will change. Therefore your values should change. What you value at 21 is not likely to be the same at 41 or 81 is it?

If you are not sure what your values might be, you are not alone; in fact you are amongst a cast of millions all over the world. You may have begun by modelling your parents’ values, or what you perceived them to be, or the values of your church, your college, your friends, your school, your employer, your culture, or… Most of us then just continue with these values working away as a filter in the unconscious mind, affecting our life and decisions every day just because they are in there. The majority of people do not make time to sit down and consider what their own personal values for living are.

I have worked with people who when discovering what their own true values are get a major wake up call.

•What the heck have I been doing in my career, personal life, marriage(s), relationships, spiritual life?
•What have I done that was not true to myself?
•Look at all I have denied myself because I never took time to find out who I was and what I valued.

Discovering your values leads to respecting yourself as the whole and complete person that you are.
Here is a basic technique that you can use to find out what your true personal values are.

Ask yourself what is important to you around: family, career / business, love, money, happiness, creativity, personal growth, spirituality, fun, happiness, health & fitness, friendship. Begin with 5 from this list. Trust your unconscious mind for the first 5 to leap out at you as being the right ones . You can explore more when you get the hang of it.

Write down your answers in your journal. This will give you an indication of what you value in life.

The next step is to look at these actual same areas of your life and explore what is happening there.
For example, if you discovered that flexibility is a value for you, where is this showing in your career, business, personal growth etc?
If you start to feel uncomfortable, perhaps it isn’t there. Perhaps you need to do something about that.
If, for example, creativity is a value you note comes up and it is not happening in your life, where / how can you do something about that?

The more we live to our values, the more we are respecting the core of the self, the person we truly are. This may not be who others expect you to be. You may need to consider things like employers and friends and family members who think they know you well. This will be after you consider yourself.

Theodore Parker wrote that you should ‘Never violate the sacredness of your individual self-respect.’

Five hundred years ago, in "Hamlet " Shakespeare had Polonius say to his son Laertes: ' To thine ownself be true'.

Living your own truth may be a challenge and that is just so. Imagine yourself being exactly who you always dreamed yourself to be and living as that person. There is nothing to lose and much to gain in self discovery and knowing your true worth as a person. Respecting yourself and living your values then is just a way of being.

And here is a final view from Ayn Rand regarding how respect for self is a precursor to respect for others:
‘If one doesn't respect oneself one can have neither love nor respect for others.’

I wish you well on your journey.


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