Show Yourself Some Respect

There is a common mantra in self-care around the idea that you cannot pour from an empty cup. You must fill yourself up before you can be there for others. (this is related to putting the oxygen mask on you first). However, manicures, massages and meditation will only take you so far if you’re not clear and strong on the foundational pieces that truly allow us to care for ourselves. One of those pieces, and one I see discussed infrequently, is self-respect.

So what is self-respect and why is it important. When you accept that we teach other people how to treat us by how we treat ourselves you begin to see the dep importance of self-respect. In a terrific article on Medium, Candace Plattor describes the difference between self-esteem (about which there is much more information) and self-respect this way:

Self-esteem is that feeling of knowing we can conduct ourselves well out there in the world….Outwardly, we are successful in at least some of the ways our society defines success, and that contributes to our self-esteem….Self-respect is that deeper, inner feeling we have about ourselves. In the same way that self-esteem is earned, by proving to ourselves that we can achieve positive results in our various life tasks, self-respect is also earned — it’s an ‘inside job’ that nobody can do for us…. In fact, when other people respect us but we don’t respect ourselves, it’s very difficult to let that positive attention in. It’s not until we truly love and respect ourselves, that we can begin to believe that we are worthy of another person’s love and respect. The only way to have self-respect is to earn it — by continuing to do the next right thing. Self-respect is perhaps the most important thing we either have or don’t have, because it forms the keystone of how we treat ourselves and how we allow others to treat us. I believe that every decision we make in life — without exception — stems from our level of self-respect, and nothing is more important than that.

One of the more challenging aspects of developing self-respect is it requires us to please ourselves, to really know what we want and need and to follow through and find a way to get or receive it. Plattor’s recommendation, and one that I am working to implement in my own life, is to ask yourself:

What do I need to do, and what do I need to NOT do, to be able to really look honestly at myself and be okay with who I see?

This question has been a huge wake up call for me. It speaks to the choices I am making on everything from what I’m eating to how I’m spending my time. In the last several months as I’ve been observing myself and my life I’ve become hugely aware of where I don’t respect myself, where I choose things that don’t support me but rather support my fears and the lies I’ve chosen to believe about myself. Instead of showing myself respect, I disregard what I know is important to me in favor of what either feels good in the moment or is easier (read: less emotionally challenging).

Honesty without compassion is brutality

Yeah, ouch. Being honest with myself isn’t easy.

 I should add that I’m working to practice honesty with a dose of compassion. Remember the first part of C.A.R.E. is about self-compassion. Being honest but cruel to myself does no good, which is why it helps if you learn compassion first. There was a time when I would have been honest with myself and started the internal dialogue with “You idiot, you should know better.” That is not the kind of honesty you and I need and it is certainly not treating yourself with respect.

An interesting article on Mindvalley focuses on how self-respect is crucial for our ongoing happiness. They offer list of 23 (!!) ways to practice respect. They’re all great, but the one which stand out for me at this time are:

1. Respect your beliefs and values. Determine which of your beliefs and values reflect your authentic self. Stick to them. It’s yours, and you don’t need to change them for anyone.

2. Respect your body. It’s the only one you have. Make taking care of it a priority.

3. Respect your environment. Surround yourself with beautiful things that are a reflection of your beauty and character.

4. Respect your interests. Openly share your passions. There are plenty of people who will be interested in the real you.

5. Respect your boundaries. Understand your limits and learn to say no.

6. Respect your fears. If you try to escape or run from your fears, they will gain power over you. Face your fears head on, and push through it.

7. Respect your failures. They are an incredible feedback system. Find legitimate value in them, and learn from them.

8. Respect your time. Do what you can to use your time wisely and balance your priorities.

9. Respect your weaknesses. You’re never going to be perfect. Know where you need help and ask for it.

10. Respect your goals and dreams. What you want has value to you. Find ways to take steps toward these goals and dreams as often as possible.

11. Respect your feelings. Don’t let others determine your responses. You know your truth. Don’t do something if it doesn’t feel right.

12. Respect your thoughts. They will tell you what you’re feeling about yourself or a situation. The sooner you’re aware of them, the sooner you will know if you need to and can change them. Change your thoughts, change your life.

One of the things I appreciate about this list is it reminds me to respect the good and the bad, the things I’m proud of (beliefs, goals, dreams, interests) and the things I’m less proud of (weaknesses, fears, failures). There’s no judgement here. Instead there is love and awareness creating a powerful foundation for our self-care.

Ready to sing-a-long with Aretha?

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