#1: Self-Respect: There is No Substitute.
On a 100-point scale, how much do you love and respect yourself? If your answer is 70%, then you have a 30% gap you will have to fill with love and respect from others. The problem is that other people’s love and respect can never replace self-love and self-respect. Obviously, that must come from within, and it’s a direct result of how you choose to see yourself. Self-love and self-respect are often based on your performance in the world. But that’s a flawed benchmark because you and your performance are a work in progress, and progress doesn’t happen all at once. When you mentally beat yourself up for not being “good enough,” you can almost feel the physical effect of those thoughts weighing you down. What frees you from this crushing mental weight is a recognition that your own growth is a process that requires time and experience to unfold. Seeing this, though, requires focus on the “you” that’s right here, right now… not the “you” of the past or the “you” of some imagined, negative future. Because, despite your past or your perceived future, you have a choice - right now - about who you want to be in this moment… and in the next moment. And if you want to have self-love and self-respect, it is this present moment choice that matters most.
Furthermore, genuine validation from within requires that you give others permission to judge and disapprove of you. When you choose a path of personal self-respect, it sometimes clashes with what others respect, and they may try to hold you hostage with their judgments. But when you begin to make choices that you respect, you’ll find that your own cup of self-respect fills up… and you won’t constantly need others to fill it.
#2: Self-Love: A Matter of Choice
Just about every one of us has had thoughts, spoken words, or done things that have not reflected our best self. These sometimes hurtful or insensitive acts aren’t things that we (or others) love or respect. But like spiritual children on the playground of life, if we are to know ourselves as kind, selfless, and compassionate, sometimes we have to experience ourselves as the opposite of those things to truly understand the difference. When we make those lesser choices, we are inevitably served with the difficult results of those choices. Yet we encounter one of life’s biggest obstacles when we mistakenly define ourselves by our lesser choices and falsely believe that those mistakes are “baked in” to who we are. Comprehending that our flawed choices are an important part of our education is key to moving toward greater self-love. Then, we begin to love ourselves despite the poor or unloving choices we have made, and we use those experiences to make better choices. It’s a self-fueling process. The more loving choices we make, the more we will love ourselves. Not only is this true about how we treat others, it’s also true about how we treat ourselves… emotionally, mentally, and physically. Again, this is a circular process. When we begin to better care for every aspect of ourselves, we intuitively start caring more about the people and the world around us. And acting on this empathy is what will lead us to a happier inner and outer life.
#3: You Deserve Love and Respect
Your relationship with yourself is the foundation for all your other relationships in life. When you love yourself, it’s much easier to love others. What gets in the way of that love are thoughts like, “I was too damaged as a child” or “I’m too old to change” or “I could never really be the person I aspire to be.” Believing thoughts like those about yourself severely limits the amount of happiness you can experience. Try not to be such a know-it-all. Be open to discovering hidden potential within yourself.
Without exception, everyone has unique gifts. What gifts are you taking for granted or not valuing enough? What expressions of yourself make your heart sing? Remember, we’re all supposed to be different, and there is nothing you have to be other than who you are… deep down. We’re all part of life’s fascinating mosaic, and every mosaic piece has both value and purpose. The point of life is to see the larger mosaic, and then discover how your piece best fits into it. Piece by piece, the mosaic of humanity - as well as your own life - will come together revealing something wonderful. The mosaic doesn’t care what’s in your past because that’s not who you are. The core of who and what you really are - in this present moment - is something inherently worthy of love and respect. And there’s always a place for that in life’s grand mosaic.
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