How to Lose Self-Respect and How to Get it Back

How to gain self-respect

Self-respect affects every facet of our lives.

He that respects himself is safe from others; he wears a coat of mail that none can pierce.Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

If we lack self-respect and, it‘s likely, we won‘t respect others.

When we lose it, we‘ll lose self-esteem.

Without it, we feel vulnerable, out of place and uneasy.

Conversely, if we own self-respect, we exude courage, self-confidence and we‘re a more likable person. We leave isolation and suddenly seem to get along with ourselves and others.

Respect yourself and others will respect you.Confucius, Sayings of Confucius

What causes us to surrender this precious commodity?

How to lose self-respect

The fastest way we lose self-respect is to engage in activities that go against our personal morals. Anything we do that violates our core beliefs, undermines our self-dignity. In short, we constantly disappoint ourselves. The result? Self-trust and self-worth dies out. Bit by bit.

Yet, most important, we can use the same principles to gain self-respect.

How to attain self-respect

Simply stated, we want to do more of the things that harmonize with our personal believe system and avoid (as much as possible) the things that make our inner moralist cringe.

Self-respect cannot be hunted. It cannot be purchased. It is never for sale. It cannot be fabricated out of public relations. It comes to us when we are alone, in quiet moments, in quiet places, when we suddenly realize that, knowing the good, we have done it; knowing the beautiful, we have served it; knowing the truth we have spoken it.Whitney Griswold

What does this mean for us? It‘s essential we get very clear about which activities align with our code of ethics and which corrodes it.

That’s why, I suggest, we create two lists representing the “do’s” and the “do not’s.”

(1) Build a “Self-Respect Growth List”

First, list all the actions actions that are aligned with your inner belief system, the person you want to be and your goals? Get very specific about the specific actions.

Repentance is a kind of self-reproof for having neglected something useful; but that which is good must be something useful, and the perfect good man should look after it. But no such man would ever repent of having refused any sensual pleasure. Pleasure then is neither good nor useful.Marcus Aurelius

Up next, what to stay clear of…

(2) Build a “Self-Respect Destruction List”

What are the activities you constantly engage in that go against your code of ethics?

Every act against your code of ethics brings us closer to a personality where this act becomes a habit. And, keep in mind, every exception you make brings you closer to a life where the exception becomes a rule.

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

Engage in activities that correlate with your code of ethics and you inevitably win self-respect!

Now, I’ve found it to be critical, to put this list together and put it up at a place where you’re exposed to it frequently. I’m sitting at my laptop and I’m glancing at it right now. It helped me to replace mindless stuff with things that feed my purpose.

No doubt about it, we don‘t want to live a life drowning in regret.

Let’s remember, time is running out. The perfect time (re-)gain self-respect (and destroy self-defeat) is today.

Finally, let me end this post with a quote that, I find, is worth reading a couple of times…

How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself and in no instance bypass the discriminations of reason? You have been given the principles that you ought to endorse, and you have endorsed them. What kind of teacher, then, are you still waiting for in order to refer your self-improvement to him?

You are no longer a boy, but a full-grown man. If you are careless and lazy now and keep putting things off and always deferring the day after which you will attend to yourself, you will not notice that you are making no progress, but you will live and die as someone quite ordinary.

From now on, then, resolve to live as a grown-up who is making progress, and make whatever you think best a law that you never set aside. And whenever you encounter anything that is difficult or pleasurable, or highly or lowly regarded, remember that the contest is now: you are at the Olympic Games, you cannot wait any longer, and that your progress is wrecked or preserved by a single day and a single event. That is how Socrates fulfilled himself by attending to nothing except reason in everything he encountered. And you, although you are not yet a Socrates, should live as someone who at least wants to be a Socrates.Epictetus



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