“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection,” wrote Sharon Salzberg. Do you treat yourself with the same sense of kindness and respect with which you would treat a loved one? If not, it is high time you fixed this.
Here are five habits that can keep you from building the self-respect you know you deserve:
– Your greatest value to our world lies in the very things that make you different. This is true even in environments that encourage uniformity, like the military. In fact, it was famed General George S. Patton Jr. who said “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” Your sense of self-respect is what tells you that your ideas have value. Listen to your inner voice. Trust your opinion, even if you are afraid it may not be a popular one. If you believe in your thoughts, share them. Diversity of thought is what enables our civilization to move forward.
2. Hurtful Self-Talk
– We all deal with aspects of ourselves that we’d like to improve. We’re self-aware enough to know we aren’t perfect. However, often we forget that we have choices. We can berate ourselves for our flaws, learn to accept them, or work toward changing them. Two of these options will raise our self-image and self-esteem. The other will lower it. What do you want for yourself? As Mary Engelbreit wrote, “If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
3. Working for a Cause You Don’t Believe In
– Enduring a difficult day of work is one thing. Working for a company or boss that offends your sense of dignity is quite another. Working for a cigarette company may be lucrative, but if you are anti-smoking in your personal life this will eat away at your sense of self-respect. Instead, do your best to find work that aligns with your personal values. If you are skeptical of modern medicine, apply to a job that supports holistic therapy – not one as a pharmaceutical sales rep. When you see yourself contributing to the greater good, your sense of self and your connection to the world will both be strengthened.
– Motivation does not always come easily. Neither does change. However, if we are to grow as people and accomplish great things, we must embrace both of these concepts. As Roy T. Bennett wrote, “You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Do something that makes you a little bit scared today. Conquer a challenge. Work toward a lofty goal. Take the first steps in accomplishing something the old you would have considered to be impossible. Your sense of self-respect will soar.
– Of all the behaviors on this list, this might be the one with which I struggle most. There’s nothing wrong with making our loved ones happy. The trouble comes when we do so at our own expense. In the end, you are the one who has to live with your life decisions – not your mother, your partner, or society as a whole. You are responsible for your own sense of happiness and satisfaction. We each have one life to live – no less and no more. Don’t give control of it to someone else.
“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing,” wrote August Wilson. Don’t be afraid of imperfection. Embrace it. Work on it. Become a person you deeply respect, and allow yourself to be loved in this way.