the-meaning-of-self-respectPeople are taught from the moment that they are old enough to make their own decisions that they should behave always with self-respect. But it’s rarely, if ever, explained how you go about doing that or what you need to do to implement it into your daily life.

Often, we don’t think consciously about self-respect until someone tells us we’re missing it.

The accusation that someone doesn’t have self-respect is levelled at people who behave in a way that is typically considered crude or is frowned upon by ‘civilised’ society. It’s thrown at people who drink too much or dress too provocatively or are too free with their curse words.

But those accusations are made by other people and are based entirely on their own opinion of someone else’s behaviour.

That doesn’t mean that that person doesn’t have self-respect.

However, it can make a person lose their self-respect, if it lands on someone who is sensitive about it. But those kind of comments really have nothing to do with the person they are aimed towards, and everything to do with the person aiming them.

When you speak like that to someone else, you’re not making a comment about how they feel about themselves, which is the core of self-respect. You’re making a comment about how you feel about them. You’re passing judgement on their choice – of clothing, or language, or behaviour – and you’re passing judgement on their moral character in doing so.

When you tell someone else to have some self-respect, you’re not assuming that they don’t have self-respect already.

You’re assuming that they shouldn’t.

And that is never an acceptable thing to say to another human being.

Self-respect, as the name suggest, does not come from what other people think of you. It comes from within. It comes from having pride and confidence in yourself, and that is it.

It comes from having faith in the decisions that you make. It comes from trusting in yourself that you will make the right choice for yourself, that you are doing what you believe to be morally and ethically right in whatever circumstances you find yourself.

Often, an extended definition of self-respect will include mentions of honour and dignity.

But, again, these are subjective terms. What is honourable and what is dignified evolves with society as much as anything else.

Once upon a time, it was honourable to be sure that your slave wasn’t knocked unconscious when you beat him. Today, no one who owned a slave – even if they never beat them once – would be considered honourable.

You get to choose your own honour. You get to choose your own dignity. You get to choose what you respect, in others and in yourself.

You get to choose the clothes you wear, the words you speak, the people you spend time with, the way you spend your time. Showing self-respect does not mean conforming to socially accepted behaviours. It doesn’t mean behaving in a way that you know other people would approve of.

It means exploring your innermost thoughts and feelings, it means examining your own attitude to the world around you and deciding what you believe is right for yourself. It means making sure that every decision you make is one you are happy to make. One you believe in.

One you respect.

Kirstie Summers,

Daily Zen.

Author Bio – Kirstie Summers is journalist whose day job takes her to all the most interesting places and events in South London. She also freelances for a number of sites and publications, from gaming and literature reviews to creative fiction. She lives in London and spends as much of her free time as possible making the most of being in such a diverse city. She keeps one day a week to herself to swim, relax and keep the stress of the world at bay.