Self-Respect is Self-Love

Self-respect is a vital part of Self-love, though it might be easily overlooked. There are several facets of it, and today I just want to focus on acting honorably, and knowing that you are doing so. You could also call this ‘what do you do when no one is looking?’, because acting honorably isn’t just about doing the right thing when people are holding you accountable, or noticing. It’s also about doing the right thing when you’re alone.

This isn’t to say you have to be ‘on’ all the time, even when you’re alone. But it does mean at least the desire to cultivate a character that always acts honorably as a part of the way you can love yourself. When you ‘do the right thing’ (subject to extremely wide interpretation, of course), you don’t have to live with a sense of shame, a lingering guilt that gets renewed every time you act dishonorably, and your burden as you go through your days is just lighter. Offering yourself a lighter burden rather than a heavier one is a profound act of love, for yourself. 

Now, if your sense of ‘what is right’ is so overwhelming that you can’t actually live up to those standards, that’s another matter to consider and reconsider – how do we define ‘what is right’? It comes to us from our parents, our culture, and our religion or ethos, mostly, and any of those three can be challenged carefully, gently, and respectfully in order to discern what is healthy from what you’ve been given, and what isn’t as healthy as you want to be.

But the tricky thing is this: Regardless of whether you’ve done the deep work of discerning the level of health you’ve been given in your sense of ‘what is right’, or if you’ve never ever considered the question, whatever your sense of ‘what is right’ actually is, it will rule your life. It may rule your life consciously, it may rule your life entirely unconsciously. But if you violate those terms, you’ll suffer under a heavy burden of guilt and shame, whether or not those terms are healthy and good.

So, self-respect comes from doing ‘what is right’, no matter what it is. Self-awareness is knowing whether what you think ‘is right’ also happens to be healthy and good.

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