I am about to give you my personal manifesto on how to live a life worth living. Self-respect is an essential if you want to be happy in your life. I find value in this topic because I believe that it is something that people do not really entertain as something worth discussing. For a multitude of reasons people will rationalize diminishing themselves for the purpose of bolstering someone else.
Unfortunately, the issue of low self-esteem is not isolated to an individual incident or a string of behaviors, self-deprecation can and does stem from an inherent human flaw. The problem for a lot of people is who they claim to be and who they actually are, are two different people.
This is because we present ourselves as who we wish we were. Or in a worst-case scenario we depict ourselves as what someone else said that we were. In either situation you are not living up to your true potential when you allow yourself to be impacted by things, and people that should not influence your life.
This is easier said than done because in all honesty, who goes into a situation with the expectation of being hurt? No one. No one wants to be hurt, especially by someone that they care for however, the first thing to realize is that given the opportunity, people will hurt you. Not always because they want to, but because the one thing that every human being is excellent at, is hurting other human beings.
This can come in the form of a sly comment or remark, a lack of consideration, selfishness, or straight up cruelty. Do not start acting all holier than thou now, we all have done it to someone we claim we care for at one point or another. Self-Respect begins and ends at the root of our own evil.
Consider your high school bully. The only reason that person had a chip on his/her shoulder was not because of what their victim did right or wrong, but rather because of what was going on inside of them. Your behavior is a window into your thought process.
The old adage goes when someone shows you who they are believe them. Our maladaptive behaviors are a reflection of our insecurities. I act rude to you because I am insecure about a certain aspect of myself that your comment/action just revealed in me. Within the context of self-respect, it is important that we discuss interpersonal relationships because this is where we see it most clearly manifest.
The Real you vs the Perceived you
There are certain things that you will or will not put up with in relation to someone else’s behavior just based on how you think about yourself. We sometimes give other people too much power in a relationship because we desire to be intimate with someone.
There is nothing like being known by someone. But what is better than being known by someone is being accepted by them. The difference is this, when someone knows you, they most likely do not know all of you meaning, when you begin to grow and develop they may not be able to accept you because they have to get to know a new you.
When someone accepts you, who you are does not matter, they accept you for you, flaws, and all, the good the bad and the ugly.Sometimes we allow people who know us to define us. This is devastating as it relates to personal development because the implication behind someone “knowing” you is that you are incapable of changing or, you can only change in a way they deem acceptable.
This is why I am adamant about being in relationships that in and of themselves are growing. I do not want to be tethered to a person I rather find value in a connection. The truth is, if the relationship is not growing, the people in it are not growing.When you commit to a person, and that person is not adding value to your life, you stunt your own growth. How you treat your relationships should be a direct reflection of the growth taking place within them.
There are some people that I no longer associate with, not because I did not enjoy their company which I did, but because the relationship itself lost its value. Loving your fellow man is a biblical concept, forcing yourself in each other’s lives is not. That is why the first step to self-respect, is commitment to self.
You must commit to yourself before you commit to anyone else. What does that mean? It means that you always have your own back. Your purpose for your own purposes must be greater than your affinity for someone else’s.
The perfect example of this is the work environment. In the 2020 work environment, everyone is replaceable. There is no value placed on an employee’s life beyond what they can do for their employer. In regard to self-respect, the same must be true of you, what good is someone who is not adding value to your life?
When you are committed to yourself you do what is in your self-interest. That does not mean you are selfish, but it does mean that you do not give anyone anything that they do not want. Stop trying to make people do something that they do not want to do. Stop trying to fit in where you are not welcome. Self-respect says I am better than the way you are responding to my generosity.
This type of attitude stems from the level of confidence you have in yourself. Confidence means with fidelity meaning loyalty. Are you loyal to yourself? If you are loyal to yourself it does not matter who is not.
Self-loyalty looks like standing by your decisions. It is when you do not compromise on your convictions. A conviction is a firmly held belief that resides within your spirit. You are a spiritual being having a physical experience. The you inside of you is the you that you need to be loyal to. We have all at one point or another done something that after doing it, or in the middle of doing it we realize that we probably should not have done.
There was nothing wrong with the action in and of itself necessarily, but it did not gel with your spirit. In those moments you may have felt guilt, shame, insecure, or remorse. This is because you just betrayed yourself. When you betray yourself, if only for a moment, you become less than yourself.
Self-loyalty — having confidence means that you refuse to forsake your convictions. You draw a line in the sand at what you believe. And you live out your belief in every way. It is about being who you really are, and who you really are is informed by what you belief about yourself and the world around you.
Living In Alignment
Are you living in alignment with yourself? Is who you are, reflected in what you do? You want to have self-respect; well do you respect yourself enough to not do something that is not indicative to who you are?
Living in alignment means that your behaviors reflect what you think which reflects what you believe. The momentum of your existence is all going in one direction. This is an essential for a multitude of reasons however, from the perspective of self-respect, If you are living in alignment, your life becomes a high speed train. There is a laser focus. You are doing what is always best for you.
This is an invaluable way to live because as alluded to earlier there is only one of two things you can do in this life, progress, or stand still. When you are orchestrating your life in such a way that it is naturally progressive, you do not have to think about whether or not you are growing, because there is perpetual growth taking place in your life.
If you want to have self-respect, then every day you wake up the first thing that should be on your mind is “how can I get better today?”. This is the fruit that living in alignment produces in your life: self-improvement.
Another and probably one of the most important parts to developing self-respect for your life is being vulnerable. I just started watching a new anime, called ‘My Hero Academia’, and one of the underlying themes that I have noticed so far in the show is that the main character intentionally turns his weaknesses into his strengths.
This in fact is also a biblical concept, that we are most strong when we are most vulnerable. Weakness is an interesting concept to grapple with, because a weakness is an intentional flaw in our design. No human being is perfect — and that is on purpose.
It can actually make your head spin if you meditate on it too closely, however, for the purposes of understanding self-respect, it is when you lean into your weakness that you uncover your strength. This is honestly an area within my own life that I am still uncovering. The idea that we are most strong when we are most vulnerable is inherently oxymoronic.
Here is a way that I think we can understand this concept so that it is palatable to us and does not cause cognitive dissonance: That thing that you wish you were better at, that you wish was not an issue in your life. That thing that you did not ask to struggle with, that challenge that you would trade for anything else in the world. You have actually already conquered it.
In reality, your weakness is not a weakness, you just cannot manage it in the way other people may manage it.Your weakness is your individuality — without it, you would not be you. it is a vile concept I know; I feel myself tensing up just writing about it, but it is true, your weakness is an intentional design flaw for the purpose of magnifying your true strength.
Here is an example that I am willing to share: I am passionate about work and entrepreneurship because that is one of the areas of life that I have been negatively impacted in. When I first entered the work force after college, I began to realize that I could never keep a job. There was always something that limited my ability to execute within the work environment. I found that it was not conducive to my growth. In one year, I had seven jobs in the span of 5 months.
And any job that I did keep, there was always an inevitable issue that arose in relation to me and my employer. I soon realized that I hated working for someone else. It did not and does not mesh with my personality, from the perspective of how I was treated in various work environments. Upon that realization I had one other option, start my own business. I have been on the path to becoming a writer and blogger ever since.
In my weakness a new strength was birthed. It is not that I can not work a nine to five, it is that it is like oil and water with me. We do not meld no matter what I do. And the truth revealed to me within that weakness is not that I have a problem with working, it is that I place a high value on my time.
I relate to life in a very simple way: we live then we die. This is it. I was born 25 years ago, and I could die tomorrow. This is just reality. From that perspective I have learned to put an insurmountable amount of respect and value on my time, because at the end of the day, if today is my last day on earth I want to spend it doing something that I want to do.
That is my strength. In the perceived weakness of me not being able to keep a job, I learned that my strength is in how I value my time. I am stronger now because I respect the 24 hours that I have in my day, than I was when I was selling 40 hours of my week to someone else.
Living in my strength brings on new weakness but once again that is the curse of humanity. Everywhere you turn you will find that you are weak in some area of your life. I love to cook, but do not ask me to bake. I am extremely competitive at times and love taking care of my body and being physically fit, but do not ask me to step out on a football field or basketball court. I am a weakling. True strength starts by knowing what you are no good at.
Self-respect is about loving yourself. The bible says that:
Love is patient love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Do you do this with yourself? This is how you develop self-respect: Be patient and kind to yourself. Do not be envious of others, do not boast and brag about your strengths, instead revel in your weakness. Implement the golden rule in your life and in your interactions with others. Be quick to forgive yourself, live out your convictions, and never give up on yourself.
Self-respect boils down to what you tolerate from other people, your level of self-commitment, being loyal to your convictions, living in alignment, accepting your vulnerabilities — weaknesses, and treating yourself with love.
If you do these things you will never have to worry about low-self-esteem or a lack of confidence. Life is here to shape you not break you; and you are worthy of self-respect and being all that you were created and placed on this planet to be.