People cross their own boundaries all the time.
They say “Yes” when every cell in their body means, “No.”
Help someone else when they’re already stretched to the max.
Keep toxic people in their life because they feel a sense of duty.
Would we do the same if we had more self-respect?
No. We would not.
Self-respect gives you a core operating system: what you do, and how you engage with people meets a minimum requirement: it must respect YOUR core beliefs and wellness.
Things that don’t meet the minimum, you just don’t pursue.
That makes decisions and life overall much easier.
But where to start…? And how to get it?
We’re not taught how to build self-respect.
If I’m honest, school, family, and society trained me OUT of respecting myself. Not intentionally, but that was the outcome.
I was instructed to put other people’s desires over my own. “Be ‘nice’ Ishita.” I learned the icky feeling of NOT respecting myself: saying “Yes” when I meant, “No,” helping people I had no business helping, and keeping negative people in my life.
The world wants “nice” but turns out I don’t care for it.
Not one bit.
Just like I don’t care for Vegas.
If “Vegas” and “nice” disappeared forever, I’d be A-OK.
What I do care about is respecting myself. Being a loving, generous, effective person in the world and in my relationships.
That’s way more attractive than nice.
Respecting yourself allows you to be more loving, generous, and effective because
- When you know how to love yourself, you love others with more patience.
- When you set boundaries, you have more capacity, so you can be effective.
- When you respect your time, money, and energy, you have more of those resources to be generous with others. You give without resenting people.
But if it’s so good, why the second part of the title, “it sucks at first?”
The dark side of self-respect is: you do hard hard things and make hard choices.
Feels like all the time.
Setting boundaries in a family who’s never heard the word is damn near impossible. People are used to behaving a certain way for decades, now all of a sudden here you come with your boundaries draped over your shoulder!
You choose not to drink in a group of friends where drinking is the main social activity. How do you not compromise your health while maintaining social ties?
You say “No” to a third work project because you’re already buried & want to do a good job. You know it’ll stretch your capacity to deliver. “No, I’ve gotta take care of these first,” you say to your supervisor.
Self-respect often means doing what makes you feel powerful and right on the INSIDE, but on the OUTSIDE it looks selfish and rigid.
To the world, setting a boundary is defensive and dangerous. You’re messing with people and systems that have done things a certain way for years. You’re already a threat when you know yourself, but when you say it out loud to others, watch out.
You’ve got new desires and it can be a lonely planet of strange looks and remarks.
- “Lighten up, it’s only one drink. We only get together once every 2 months!”
- “This project is basically an extension of the first, it’ll only take 30 minutes; can you just add it so we can have a complete finished proposal?”
- “What do you mean don’t criticize you? I never criticize you. You’re so sensitive! I don’t even know how to talk to you anymore.”
Nuanced and tricky responses, friend.
That’s why you have to temper your self-respect with a huge WHY.
Why do you want to respect yourself?
What does it mean when you do?
My own experience is when I respect myself:
I have more energy to do the work I feel called to do in the world.
More capacity to carry out my duties so I feel proud of myself at the end of the day. More compassion for the people in my life as well as the outside world.
More ability to see clearly, think critically, and write better.
I’m more AVAILABLE as a human being.
There’s MORE OF ME to be seen and be useful to the world.
Self-respect builds the foundation of all of that.
Ask yourself, “How different would my day look if I respected myself today?” “What different actions would I take right now if I acted out of self-respect?”
I hope you’ll make shooting for self-respect the ONLY game you play today.
Cheers to you.