After some years at this, it occurs to me that there are a few key components that help a person improve their self-respect and therefore their joy and satisfaction in life.
Here are five of them:
you see yourself doing what you’re supposed to do
you see yourself treating people fairly
you observe yourself taking good care of your health
you feel yourself being empathetic towards others
you sense that your personal power doesn’t fully depend upon what others think of you or how much you have
Briefly, let’s start with the first one: You see yourself doing what you’re supposed to do.
How many times have you KNOWN what you were supposed to do but did differently anyway? Well, the more you observe yourself doing that, the lower your self-respect will become and the more you will open yourself up to chronic anxiety and depression, among other things.
Number two: You see yourself treating people fairly.
When you take your anger or your anxiety out on people–kids or adults–you build up guilt and/or shame. The more this happens, the more it will affect your self-respect in a negative fashion, which will, again, open you up to chronic emotional difficulties.
Number three: You observe yourself taking good care of your health.
Sort of related to the first one (they kind of all are, really). If you continue to overeat, eat the wrong foods, refuse moderate exercise, stay up too late and get too little sleep, among other things, you will eventually have both physical and emotional problems, not the least of which will be low self-respect.
Number four: You feel yourself being empathetic towards others.
When we judge people it is often because we either don’t know enough about the situation or because we are being personally triggered by it. The way to get past this is to follow my LVAC technique: Listen, Validate, Ask some questions, Comment (judge) last. As you become a better friend, spouse, parent, community member, etc., your self-respect will improve.
Number five: You sense that your personal power doesn’t fully depend upon what others think of you or how much you have.
Build your internal reference point for self-worth and you’ll be less and less dependent on any external reference points. And as long as you are doing the other four things on this list, you’re going in the right direction towards building a solid sense of self and a strong self-respect which will help improve your emotional stability and joy.
Anthony Ferraioli, M.D.
Author, Don’t Get Married! (Unless You Understand a Few Things First)