Self-respect is standing up for yourself. It means not letting anyone take advantage of you or manipulate you. When you respect yourself, you don’t shy away from expressing your ideas and saying what’s on your mind. You believe you have worth; your contributions matter. You are powerful, and you don’t let anyone take that away from you by belittling you or tearing you down. You are proud and strong.
On the topic of self-respect, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“Being a woman isn’t always the easiest thing in the world, but it’s what I have to work with right now. There are so many aspects of ourselves that merit self-respect. We are unbelievably competent at what we do. We are flexible and strong and can be both simultaneously. We have good ideas that are practical and creative, and we can articulate them well. We have the ability to deal with several tasks simultaneously and attend to each one. We are organizers, creators, and doers and we have a great capacity for being. We have much to contribute including a perspective on life that is different from that of the men around us. We are here to stay, and we and others need to accept that fact.”
Things are arguably better now for women than they have ever been in history, but still we are made to believe we are “less than.” We receive messages from all sorts of people and places that we are not good enough as we are. I have often thought how much easier my life would be if I were a man. Certainly, I think it would be easier to speak my mind and have my ideas heard and respected. I could be assertive and direct without worrying that people will think I am a frigid bitch. I wouldn’t have to answer questions about when I am going to have children (not if) and whether or not I will leave my career to care for them, since “having a mother at home during the formative years is so important.” I can’t show too much emotion for fear of being labeled crazy, irrational, or even worse, on my period,
The fact is though that I bring a unique perspective to the table as a woman. I have many gifts to offer, some of which are solely because of my experience as a woman. I have learned that I can be direct and assertive while still being kind. I am strong and powerful, passionate and knowledgeable. I firmly believe my work is a reflection of myself, and I take great care to do my best at whatever I undertake. I am talented and competent, yet I also recognize the value of others’ opinions. There is always more to learn, and often people with the least experience bring the best ideas to the table. They haven’t conformed to the standard thinking yet, so they have a fresh perspective. That’s what I offer too as a result of my own unique combination of experiences in life.
Self-respect is about recognizing ourselves for the amazing, unique people we are without losing our grip on reality. It’s about not settling for anything less than we deserve, whether that’s how we allow others to treat us or how we treat ourselves. We should respect ourselves and demand the same from others. While it’s true that respect is earned, not given, some people refuse even to acknowledge where it has been earned. Recognize and accept your own power. Own it.
It’s funny, because I realized in writing this post that I had a lot to say on the topic. For so much of my life, I have not respected myself as I should. I’m glad that has changed.