Think about someone whom you respect with everything in your heart, almost whom you radically respect. Reflect upon their actions, their values, the way they care for others and themselves, the choices they make and the manner in which they communicate with others. What do you notice? What stands out for you about the way in which they embody self respect that ‘demands’ you respect them?
A key destroyer to self respect is a lack of personal boundaries and standards. Personal boundaries and standards, when effective, communicates, among other things, to others how we wish to be treated, who we are and the responsibility we take for our lives. Over the past 20 years of working with people, I have heard hundreds of stories of wounds and hurt that people carry in which their core sense of dignity and respect have been compromised, violated or disregarded.
Clearly, when children are abused, neglected and repeatedly traumatized by the lives of shame and abuse from their parents, guardians and trusted elders, learning the standards and practices of self-respect is negligible and non-existent. Like cancer, if these same children grow up and don’t get the healing they require, they may spread this shame of disrespect and abuse to others, only now it begins to multiply. Other times, there are those who have become so accustomed to low self-esteem, they simply fall into patterns of weak boundaries that end up sabotaging the very goals they are working so hard to accomplish. Developing self respect is a key healing balm to transmute our shame and low self worth.
Spiritually, self-respect is necessary to experience our inner potential and to fulfill our purpose or deep meaning in life. To contribute to the betterment of our world and to restore wholeness to our planet, we need to begin to grow our self respect. Here are four key standards of self respect which authenticate your life and strengthen your spirituality.
1. Value and Honour yourself
Although we know we need to value and honour our needs, our dreams and our goals if we are to respect ourselves, actually following through as though we are required by a Divine standard for ourselves is a choice we often justify away. To deeply value myself, my proper nutrition, my body health, my mind’s well-being and my spirit’s nourishing would be as fundamental to me as putting gas in the car to make sure I could get from point A to B. And yet, how often does the gas in the car get first priority? Valuing and honouring ourselves means that we need to treat our whole selves, our inner core with dignity, a key standard of respect. On a scale of 1-10, where do you put yourself? Where would you like to be and what do you need to transform to respect yourself as you would like?
2. Be Honest and Live your Principles
Many of us deeply value honesty, and trust those who are truthful. What I am often struck with, however, is what it means to be honest and truthful with myself. If I am only aware of my ego understanding of life, then I cannot be honest. I will be untruthful, no matter how hard I attempt to behave honestly. To be honest and truthful means I need to be connected, aware and growing in the presence and light of my soul, my inner deepest heart/mind. The challenge to be truthful is not just about what we say. Rather, and more importantly, being honest requires that our words, our actions, our intentions, our energy and our spiritual being flow with integration and coherence. This process is a daily commitment to oneself and to the principles we live by regardless of what life presents us.
Seeking to become more soulfully honest naturally and eloquently raises our standard of self respect. What new question can you pose to yourself that would forward your truth from within your inner being?
3. Trust your Inner Wisdom
We all have deep knowledge and gut instincts about what is good and beneficial for us. We have been trained to ignore these signals, body cues and insights and instead, to give credibility and authority to our thinking rationales. Of course, I believe reason and insight or intuition both can harmoniously work together for our greater good. However, they are to be in balance and work as a dialectic tension with one another. We frame our lives and our thinking in binary, dualistic fashion so often that we neglect our own inner wisdom to guiding us forward.
Our bodies are a powerful communicator about what is beneficial and what is destructive for us. And yet, because we have weak standards of self valuing and honouring, we miss the key signals that point us to our truth, our wisdom and the way forward in our lives. Without trusting our inner wisdom, our standard of respect will rarely mature and support us in the difficult moments of our lives and relationships.
What is the insight you have been disregarding and rationalizing away, that if you listened would provide the breakthrough you are seeking?
4. Act with Courage to Change
Here we encounter the stumbling blocks of most stumbling blocks—the courage to change. To claim our courage is to seek our unknown potential. Respect truly builds and grounds within us when we take action toward our potential, and that means we must be aligned with and open to Spirit. Potential is a Higher Power when we choose potential that promotes our joy, peace and goodwill to all sentient beings.
The Chinese character ‘chaos’ is depicted as a new plant breaking the ground and is translated “where dreams begin.” In other words, the beginning is often difficult and requires us to change our habits and mindsets and perhaps even release old relationships and seek new ones. Such changes create fear in us so intense sometimes that we cannot see the success of the positive results and we turn back to where we came or become frozen in a sense of failure. The courage to change brings into focus the other 3 standards and as a coherent set of standards has the power to transform the very essence of our joy and the path we walk to manifest it. Deep self respect demands our courage to act.
What metaphor of SELF RESPECT can your Inner Wisdom create that is so powerful, strong and wise, you literally change a weak and destructive pattern in your life and relationships?
If self respect is an area you would like to improve, consider studying with me and learning about boundaries, peace-building conversations or about deep love in any of my workshops. I would love to study it with you and facilitate a powerful opportunity for you to transform your present relationships.
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©Shirley Lynn Martin