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Self Respect

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Self Respect

Gaining Self-Respect

Being honest and sincere means confronting our inner experience and our outer life in a truthful way. Being sincere means not lying to ourselves, not rationalizing, not comforting, not postponing, not bandaging difficulties. Being sincere means grappling with our life and coming to terms with it with a sense of integrity and self-respect. Over time we gain self-respect by grappling with our deficiencies, by learning that we can do that. If we run away from the difficult parts, we’ll feel like a coward. If we feel like a coward, we won’t respect ourselves. And we can’t lie to ourselves about what we’re actually doing; on a deep level, we know the truth. So we have to grapple with the difficulties in a courageous way. That’s how we gain respect and value. If we run away from things, there’s no way we can value ourselves. To have a sense of integrity, we have to prove to ourselves that we’re worthy of it. I don’t mean we have to prove something to our superego. I mean we have to bring forth what we are, bring forth all our resources to confront the difficulties that we have in our life.

How We Become Real

To live according to the truth, we need to be able to allow the truth. We need to have the integrity and the self-respect to confront ourselves. We must be willing to see things about ourselves that are problematic, selfish, or reactive. We need to acknowledge and confront difficulties and delusions, and learn to deal with them instead of doing everything to run away from them. We need to learn to confront not only the beautiful truth of essential states, but
also our fears and vulnerabilities and inadequacies. That’s how we become real. We don’t become real by running away from difficulties; we become real by understanding them. Fulfillment, love, and satisfaction happen as a side effect, a by-product of being real. To be real, we have to bring forth what is real in us. We have to start doing it, being it, acting according to it, expressing it, saying it, and living it.

The More Real You are the More Invisible You are Because You Keep Your Realization to Yourself

To do this practice, we need to use all the awareness and all the will that we have developed. We have to consciously take our transformation into our own hands. A human being who has true self-respect does not declare his or her enlightenment, nor want to be seen. The more real you are, the more invisible you are, because you keep your realization to yourself. Desires to show it or expose it or impress others are desires to satisfy elementary and childish needs, and the true human being does not act according to those needs, and in time does not have them. A mature adult human being just goes about his or her business without trying to please anybody.
This practice is not about stopping the emotions. It is about stopping acting on them (or from them) because we recognize that they come from that part of us which is elementary, primitive, and childish. This is just like raising a child: You don’t let the child do whatever he wants, because if you do, he will make a mess of your house and probably hurt himself, right? It is the same with yourself: You don’t let the childish part do whatever it wants to do because it will make a mess of your life and it will hurt you. It is as simple as that, you have to discipline it.

The Point is not to Lose Your Self-Respect, not to Abandon the Highest and Purest Elements Within You

When you are being your true self, you are not looking for pleasure, you are not avoiding pain, you are not trying to get approval, nor trying to get someone to admire you. You are not out to criticize someone else, or to defeat someone else, and you are not out to gain fame or power. You are naturally and spontaneously living as a genuine human being who has respect andconsideration for other human beings. ……….. To make these values and manifestations second nature, you have to put conscious effort into them. You have to make it your work. This does not mean that you have to be solemn and grim and serious; that is not the point. The point is to act with sincerity and to put conscious effort into being aware of yourself and others in order to treat yourself and others with respect. This also does not mean giving up pleasure; it means not seeking pleasure. It does not mean creating pain; it means not avoiding pain. Life is to be lived with the integrity, dignity, and self-respect of a person who knows that the point is not whether something feels good or bad. The point is not to lose your self-respect, not to abandon your true reality, the highest and purest elements within you. Regardless of how wonderful things are and regardless of how painful things are, your self-respect is strong enough to maintain your sense of integrity. That integrity does not mean having your way, or winning or succeeding or anything like that. It means being sincere about who you are and acting in ways that reflect your essential human values.

To Have Self-Respect and Integrity Means not Complaining About how Things Are

Having self-respect, self-consideration, and self-love means doing and learning whatever is needed to maintain that integrity and self-respect. It means that if something needs to be learned, you go ahead and learn it; if something needs to be done, you go ahead and do it; and if something needs to be said, you go ahead and say it. To have self-respect and integrity means not complaining about how things are. It means acting towards others with respect and consideration regardless of what you feel. Having self-respect means that even if you are dying, you are still considerate and respectful towards yourself and other people, because who you are is much more important than whether you are going to die. It is much more important than whether you’ are losing your business or losing your boyfriend or girlfriend. Human dignity is much more precious than any of these things. This is why we sometimes practice the non-expression of automatic emotions. When you do this, you not only pay attention to yourself by sensing yourself continually, but you also pay attention so that you do not express any automatic emotion that you feel. Keep it to yourself, feel it, understand it, and use it as a fuel for your presence and your understanding. You might not be able to do this all the time and it is important not to attack yourself when you cannot do it perfectly; the point is to put forth as much conscious effort and dedication as possible.

We Won’t Respect Ourselves if We Don’t act in a Self-Respectful Way

If we don’t bring to bear in our life our true qualities—our strength, our will, our intelligence, our compassion—we won’t recognize the preciousness, integrity, and beauty of being human. We won’t respect ourselves if we don’t act in a self-respectful way. We won’t value ourselves if we don’t conduct our life in a way that recognizes the value of our true essential nature. We won’t have confidence in ourselves if we don’t grapple with difficulties. Conducting our life with confidence, value, and respect is connected to loving truth for its own sake. What is truth, ultimately, but the nature of the human being? Truth is essentially what we are, who we are, what we are capable of, our very substance, our nature, our reality. So to love truth for its own sake is not separate from valuing what you are as a human being.

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