“I Don’t Have Much Self-Respect”

by Annie Kaszina on December 19, 2007


 This week
one reader wrote: "I don’t have much self-respect… and I guess it shows". 
That would be my guess too.

Not that I know this reader at all.
I’ve never met her or communicated with her before.  But if I had to hazard a
guess I’d say

that she is probably above average in the way she presents
herself.  She may well have a need to look as good as she can, but she probably
feels terrible, and that is how her lack of self-respect shows and
communicates itself to others.

Self-respect is a curious thing;
you lose it from the outside.  It drains away through the constant punctures
that an abusive partner makes in your self-worth.  Hence you may well get stuck
in the trap of believing it will only be restored to you from the outside, when
this is not the case.  Even if people do try to instil some sense of
self-respect in you, it will only drain out of the existing holes.   

Self-respect can only be restored
from the inside, because only you have the power to stop up the holes, from the

When I was working with a client
recently on a similar issue, my client gave me a world-weary smile and asked:
"Do you mean I should use affirmations?"  The weariness with which she uttered
those words suggested that she had tried and failed. 

Because, more and more I come to
believe we should never take anything for granted, apart from our
extraordinary innate talents and resources
, I asked how she had got on
with affirmations.  It turned out that she had never used them because she
knew they didn’t work.   

She was, of course, right.  There
is no point in engaging in an activity that you believe to be futile; especially
if you are invested in being right.  At that point, knowing that she
could not hope to happy she had decided to at least settle for the satisfaction
of knowing that she was right.

But, how did she know that she
knew what she knew
?  For that matter, how do you know that you know
what you know? 
Ok, and since we are about it, how do I know that I know
what I know?   

Where I am concerned, as regards
clients, I know what tends to work.  And I am really not interested in what I
know.  My prime concern is helping clients to move out of what pulls them down
and into what makes them happy and moves them forward.

Affirmations may well be a great
tool for this.  Why?  Because you are not going to become a whole lot happier or
place a higher value on yourself if you keep on repeating the old, negative
mantras.  (You know the ones, about being stupid or fat or hopeless or ugly

Self-respect begins when you throw
away the old distorting mirror and take a long soft looking at yourself
in a bog standard mirror.  Self-respect begins when you listen to the positive
things people say about you and feed them back to yourself.   

You don’t have to scale Everest, be
a size 0, have a Ph.D. or $1,000,000 in the bank to have self-respect.  (In fact
you could do all of that, and more, and still have no self-respect.)   

Self-respect has a lot more to do
with evicting the abusive, disrespectful voices – you know exactly
which voice(s) – from your head and leaving a blessed absence of negative
noise.  A few nice affirmations recited out loud will certainly help keep those
nasty voices at bay.   

"But what about self-respect? 
What do I need to do to get that back?" 

Surprisingly little actually.  Some
clear headspace and a few nice, positive statements about yourself (aka
affirmations) will stop up the holes, which means that you will soon
develop a good, deep reservoir of self-respect. 

And I guess that will show too. 

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