“There is only one real misfortune: to forfeit one’s own good opinion of oneself. Lose your complacency, once betray your own self-contempt and the world will unhesitatingly endorse it.” – Thomas Mann
What I think of myself, and how I treat myself, is exactly how the world will see me and treat me. If I sell myself short… others will do the same. Sadly, most of us are not aware of this truth until after the fact, and thus Thomas refers to this as the “only one real misfortune.” If I find the world showing me disrespect, I can follow that back to the “forfeiture of my own good opinion of myself.”
I have to admit that even though I tend to consider myself to have a high level of self-respect I still tend to sell myself short when I consider my own actions, thoughts, and deeds. And although it may not be something I intend to do consciously, it occurs nonetheless. However, I have found that adopting an attitude that fosters responsibility has helped me out a lot. I know what needs to be done. I know what is right. Therefore, there is only one possible course of action. Still, acting upon that course is not always an easy task.
So what stops us from doing what is right and just? I can think of a number of things, however, the most dominant of those is fear. Fear is the universal catalyst in losing one’s self-respect. When I embrace fear, I leave no room for self-respect or courage, for I have filled it with uncertainty and despair. Fear changes the way we perceive our lives–the way we see ourselves and the way in which we experience the world around us–in a negative way.
Self-respect is not something we should take lightly. Seek it out. Accept yourself exactly as you are, and then commit to making decisions based on your conscience, morals, and ethics–your guiding principles in life. And although your perspectives may change as you grow and learn, they will still lead you true.
Spend some quiet time reflecting on the good within yourself.
Questions to consider:
What do we lose when we “forfeit” our self-respect?
How do others affect our own self-respect? How can we deal with the way they affect us?
Can we truly respect others if we do not respect ourselves?
For further thought:
“Self-respect cannot be hunted. It cannot be purchased. It is never for sale. It cannot be fabricated out of public relations. It comes to us when we are alone, in quiet moments, in quiet places, when we suddenly realize that, knowing the good, we have done it; knowing the beautiful, we have served it; knowing the truth, we have spoken it.” – Whitney Griswold