Self-love and tranquility within is what we talked about last time. A big part of self-love is respecting oneself. When you ask Google to define self-respect, you are provided with this definition: pride and confidence in oneself; a feeling that one is behaving with honor and dignity.
Those first two words, pride and confidence. Those words are like loaded guns for me. They signify words that had consequences with them throughout my younger years. Don’t be prideful. You can’t be proud of yourself, that’s not how it works. Stop being so overconfident and full of yourself. Your confidence comes off as you being a bitch. Those kinds of loaded guns.
And the words honor and dignity. I only heard those words in history books or when referring to our soldiers and our veterans.
When I first started hearing the term self-respect and acknowledging it, I was probably in my late twenties. As I was growing up, I was never told to respect myself first. I never heard “have some self-respect”. It just wasn’t something that was part of my life.
Respecting oneself means something different to every unique person. How I respect myself may be similar to how you respect yourself, but what it means to each of us is more than likely different. And as a woman, self-respect is different for me than self-respect for any man. I have learned that there is a societal connotation about self-respect when referring to a woman. When I hear the term self-respect in media or in movies it is usually used in either of these two ways: “Have some self-respect” or “ She lacks self-respect”. These are usually used when referring to something a woman has or has not done. The trouble is, I don’t know that enough of us are taught as we are growing up and into the women we are becoming, what self-respect really means.
In my interpretation of self-respect, it means that I respect myself for my decisions and actions. It means I am proud of most of everything I do, especially my dedication to growth and hard work. If I am not proud of something, I have learned the lesson and am growing from it. It means I honor my goals and needs. It means I take care of myself without being self-critical. It means I give myself grace.
I haven’t always had that definition and I haven’t always respected myself. Most of my life I spent disrespecting myself and putting everybody else’s needs and wants ahead of my own. I still struggle with that, but I’m getting better at taking care of myself.
So, what do I do to show myself respect? It depends on the situation and what you might be referencing. But I’ll share with you some examples that might help you take a look at your life and where you might want to make some changes.
One thing I am continuously pursuing in order to show myself more respect is to let go of other people’s opinions AND what I think other people’s opinions might be. These have been some of the things that impact my life the most and how I live it. I’ve used a few different methods over the years and I’m always needing to learn new tactics because my inner critic is always evolving. I started off by just telling myself “no, you do not know that that person will say that or treat you that way”. I would shut down the thought in its tracks. That was difficult to do, but it worked for a while. Now I ask why. Why do you think that person will respond in that way? Most of the time my answer stems from fear of judgment or fear of confrontation. I try to analyze the situation that my inner critic is dreaming up. Then I flip it. I turn that negative situation around and control the thought to go in the direction of praise or a positive conversation. I know that when my inner critic is telling me that someone else is going to react a specific way, it is looking for the disrespect that I historically have shown myself. My inner critic is uncomfortable the more I respect myself.
Giving myself grace is another big one. I have a learned habit from growing up that leads me to anger as soon as something doesn’t go exactly the way I think it is supposed to go. The other night I was pulling my salmon from the foil pack I cooked it in and wanted to peel the meat off of the skin right in the foil. That wasn’t working and my stress started peaking. Then as I was moving the filet onto my plate it fell apart and flipped over. My anger hit explosive. I balled my fists shook them a bit and took some deep breaths. My husband doesn’t understand where this comes from and it pisses me off just for it happening. Why do I do this? Why does my anger hit explosive when something so menial goes “wrong”? I don’t have all of the answers but I believe it to be because of my deep-rooted perfectionism challenges. It’s as though I feel that everything has to be exactly as I expect it and if anything is out of order, everything is fucked. So, I am continuously working on giving myself grace and respecting that I do not have to have everything to be perfectly in order. I think this is also coupled with an intense need to have complete and utter control. Another thing I’m giving myself grace for.
Another way I’m working to give myself more self-respect is to respect my need for me-time or solitude. I am an introvert through and through. I can be extroverted when needed or when around friends, but I easily hit a wall. Large amounts of alcohol used to get me past these walls, but I don’t consume alcohol in those quantities anymore. Now I actually excuse myself to bed even if friends are still here or on video or I take time in the morning before everybody wakes up. I even kick my husband out of the house or to the garage or something when his extroverted silly self is driving me insane. It works and we disagree less because I am able to decompress and recharge.
This leads to another way I show myself respect. I refuse to watch news or shows or movies that are stressful. I made the mistake of catching up on the events in early January of this year and it took me days to decompress from the stress my subconscious took on. I loved Yellowstone, but the drama in that show is a million times too much for me.
Respecting myself is something that will always be a thing that I continue to grow through. It is not first nature to me so I have to constantly work at it. The more I respect myself, the more I love myself, and the more inner peace I feel.