Respect yourself and you will get it back. -African Proverb
Of course, since choosing this wisdom quote I can’t get the classic Staples Singers song, Respect Yourself, out of my mind…“If you don’t respect yourself, ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot, na na na na….”!
What does it mean to have self-respect? As I’ve been reflecting on this question in meditation, words/phrases like honor, dignity, integrity, “proud of myself”, self-regard, “head held high”, confidence, self-worth, life of purpose and meaning, self-determination, self-care, self-love, self-compassion, self-control, self-discipline, courage, congruence, alignment, authenticity, and “being true to oneself” come to mind. People who live in a way that exudes self-respect create a powerful energy that can be felt by others. Who comes to mind when you think of someone with self-respect?
Here are some thoughts that arose as I have continued to contemplate the meaning of self-respect. I think having self-respect is related to honoring the preciousness, precariousness, and miracle of this life we are given. Self-respect of our bodies means that we honor the sacredness of our body as the temple that it is. It is a fundamental knowing of our amazingness, feeling own innate beauty and radiance. Mentally, self-respect means that we think for ourselves and simultaneously stay open to learning things that will enhance our lives. In relational and sociopolitical contexts, self-respect means standing up for ourselves and not participating in things that degrade us, not bowing down. In the context of oppression, self-respect means that we resist the internalization of racism/sexism/heterosexism/classism and deeply know our own value and worth. It is being unapologetic in our demand to be treated with respect by others.
I believe that a central element of self-respect is living authentically and in alignment with our values, walking our talk (relates to last week’s focus on integrity). Finally, self-respect is being able to admit when we are wrong, when we’ve made a mistake. Self-respect is infused with humility and honesty, being brave enough to course correct when we have lost our way. Self-respect is not about perfection, but staying on the path in pursuit of actualizing our highest selves with a firm grounding in our value and worth. When we have self-respect, we are crystal clear about who we are and that we deserve compassion, from others and from ourselves.
Self-respect rewards and strengthens itself. When we act in a way that demonstrates self-respect, it feels GOOD and inspires continuing to engage our lives from a ground of self-respect. What act of self-respect can you make in your life?
With Peace, Love, and Soulfulness,
Dr. Shelly Harrell