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 way they communicate with others. 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 practices of self-compassion. Personal boundaries and practices of self-compassion communicate, among other things, how we wish to be treated, who we are in relationship to the world around us and the responsibility we take for the joy and well-being of our lives – a reflection of our own self dignity. Over the past 20 years of working with people, I have heard hundreds of stories of deep wounds and hurt that people carry in which their core sense of dignity and respect have been compromised, violated or disregarded.
When children are abused, neglected and repeatedly traumatized by the lives of shame and abuse from their parents, guardians and trusted elders, teachers and coaches, learning the standards and practices of self-respect and self-compassion is negligible and non-existent. If these same children grow up and don’t get the healing they require, they are likely to spread this shame of disrespect, self-hate and abuse to others, only now it begins to multiply. Other times, there are those who have become so accustomed to low self-worth and harsh self judgement, 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.
The following four key standards of self-respect and practices of self-compassion help to authenticate our life and strengthen our spirituality:
1. Value and Honour our Core Needs
Although we know we need to value and honour our needs, our dreams and our goals if we are to respect ourselves, actually ‘doing’ the work of valuing and honouring our needs is a choice we often justify away. To deeply value oneself, a healthy body and nutrition, one’s mental well-being and one’s spiritual nourishing would be as fundamental to us as putting gas in the car to make sure we get from point A to B without ‘pushing’ ourselves to the destination on empty. And yet, how often does the gas in the car get first priority over our deeper core needs?
Valuing and honouring ourselves means that we need to treat our whole selves, our inner core with dignity, a key standard of respect and practice of self-compassion. 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 often strikes me however, is what it means to be honest and truthful with oneself. If we are only aware of our ego beliefs of life, then we cannot be fully honest, for we will be ‘without heart’ in our understanding. We will be untruthful, no matter how hard we attempt to behave honestly because our ego is not necessarily concerned with fulfilling heart and soul needs and lessons. For me, being honest and truthful means being connected, aware and growing in the whole presence and light of my soul, my inner deepest heart/mind.
The challenge to be truthful is not just about what we say. Being honest requires that our words, our actions, our intentions, our energy and our spiritual being flow with integration and coherence (words, deeds, intentions all match!). 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. Unfortunately, we have been trained to ignore these signals, body cues and insights and instead, to give credibility and authority to our thinking minds and society’s status quo. 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. When we frame our lives and our thinking in binary, dualistic fashion, we neglect our own inner wisdom guiding us into our best self and toward our best life. Such living lends itself to feeling and being sustained by a sense of self-respect.
Moreover, our bodies are powerful communicators about what is beneficial and what is destructive for us. And yet, because we have weak standards and practices of self-valuing and honouring and dismissive patterns of our needs, we miss the key signals that point us to our truth, to our wisdom and the way forward in our lives. Without trusting the heart of our inner wisdom, our standard of respect will rarely mature and support us in the difficult moments of our evolving lives and relationships.
What is the insight you have been disregarding and rationalizing away, that if you listened would provide the opening and path forward you are seeking?
4. Act with Courage to Change
Here we encounter the stumbling blocks of most stumbling blocks—the courage to DO the 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 can create such intense fear in us that we cannot see the success or goodness of the positive results and we turn back to where we came. Other times we become frozen with fear for stepping too far out of the comfort zone of others we are seeking to please and appease.
The courage to change brings into focus the other 3 standards and practices of self-respect and self-compassion. As a coherent set of standards and practices of self-respect, we access the power to benefit from 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 a power of self-kindness and empowerment you would like to improve, consider participating in my upcoming two-day workshop The Self Kindness Response: Boundaries for Health & Joyful Living on September 29-30th, 2017. I would love to partner with you and co-create a powerful transformation of your present relationships and your inner state of love and peace.
For more details about this amazing learning and growth opportunity, visit The Self Kindness Response: Boundaries for Health & Joyful Living. You may also call or email me for additional clarification or guidance. Looking forward to seeing you there!