“That you may retain your self-respect, it is better to displease the people by doing what you know is right, than to temporarily please them by doing what you know is wrong.” ~ William John Henry Boetcker …
Displeasing others is about as pleasant as shaving against the grain. No one wants to do it, yet when it comes to choosing to go against our conscience simply to please others, we have to choose wisely, or we are the only ones who lose out. For when we do things we know we should not just to try to please or impress others, we give up not only our character and self-respect, but also our peace of mind.
Personal experience has shown me that the individuals who truly care about me are not at all pleased or impressed when I act in ways that are contrary to my principles and ideals or simply flat out wrong. This leads me to ask myself the question, “Who exactly am I trying to please by acting against my conscience, and why?” If these individuals have no real concern for my spiritual, emotional, intellectual, or physical health, then why I am placing any value or worth on their selfish opinions in the first place? After all, they most likely will not stick around to be there for me when I am potentially faced with the difficult situations and consequences of going against what I know to be right.
The important thing for each of us to realize is that our self-respect is non-negotiable. No one can provide it for us. No one can transfer it to us. It is something that we must obtain from within; something only we can espouse, develop, and strengthen by spending time in careful consideration of our thoughts and feelings.
Always do what you know to be right–your integrity and peace of mind is at stake. Those who care about you will support you, and those who do not… well, your self-respect is more important than their good graces.
Ensure that your words and actions are in line with your principles and ideals.
Questions to consider:
Why do have such an overwhelming desire to want to please others?
Have you ever done things you knew were wrong? How did you convince yourself to do so? What were some of the results?
What are the most important factors for you in determining your level of self-respect?
For further thought:
It is the phenomenon sometimes called “alienation from self.” In its advanced stages, we no longer answer the telephone, because someone might want something; that we could say no without drowning in self-reproach is an idea alien to this game. Every encounter demands too much, tears the nerves, drains the will, and the specter of something as small as an unanswered letter arouses such disproportionate guilt that answering it becomes out of the question. To assign unanswered letters their proper weight, to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves–there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect. Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home.
~ Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem