Understanding the Real Concept of Self Respect

Categories: RespectSelf Respect

Self-respect is defined as a regard for one’s own standing or position, but true self-respect is the opposite. It is the ability to understand that one’s standing or position is not incredibly important. Beginning at a young age, we are taught to love ourselves and hold ourselves in the highest regard. We learned that we are invincible. However, in order to achieve true self respect, one must discover that they are not unique and that they may fail; they must relinquish the thoughts of their invincibility and understand that neither their standing nor position is important so that one may be able to appreciate their self-worth.

Each individual child grows up learning that they are one of a kind; that they are something special, unlike anyone else; that they are in a way above their peers. Many of us are fed these delusions through golden team soccer trophies and blue participation ribbons that still decorate our shelves and drawings or homework papers with check plus marks and smiley faces stickers that our mothers proudly stuck up on the refrigerator for all to see.

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These are the praises we received for little or no real accomplishment that falsely inflate our egos. Many of us live our entire childhoods with a glorified perception of ourselves.

Although, it is not terrible for a child to be a bit over confident or have an excellent self-esteem (in fact, I miss the days when I did), one day every child will come to realize that they are not as special as they once thought themselves to be.

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We were those kids who were labeled “gifted-and-talented” simply because we loved to read books or could add and subtract without counting on our fingers. We were those kids who enthusiastically came home on report card day with nothing less than perfect grades, who even as kindergarteners considered themselves academically superior to the others.

For us, this was our version of self-respect. We were perfect. It was what everyone had always told us. Therefore, when the inevitable happened as we grew up, that we would eventually fail at something, this perception of self-respect would be lost to us because we would learn that we were never perfect. However, at the moment of our first failure, a first B on a report card, we would not yet know this, so it would be a devastatingly crushing defeat. Even worse, we would not be able to understand our failure. How could we, the “gifted-and-talented”, have possibly done anything wrong?

To accept failure is to have self-respect. It does not take much effort to respect oneself when one is succeeding, but it takes one with true self-respect to pick oneself up after a failure and keep going. We gain the ability to do this when we come to realize that we are not innately superior or special and are far from perfect, but know that we are still worth too much to simple give up after our failures. The realization that we are worth it is the key to finding self-respect; moreover, it exists intrinsically.

As Joan Didion said in her essay “Self-Respect”, “There is a common superstition that ‘self-respect’ is a kind of charm against snakes, something that keeps those who have it locked in some unblighted Eden, out of strange beds, ambivalent conversations, and trouble in general. It does not at all. It has nothing to do with the face of things, but concerns instead a separate peace, a private reconciliation” (Didion 6). The charms we used as children were those golden trinkets and ribbons on display and those perfect rows of A’s that hung on the fridge as if to prove our self-respect.

We were wrong. Those were merely symbols we assigned the meaning of perfection to. Real self-respect is not equivalent to being perfect because we came to know perfection only exists in delusions. Self-respect is internal. It is when one learns to think of their self humbly and work hard for your success. However, self respect will not present itself in an epiphany, it has to be earned through failure and success, wins and losses. Many of us are still learning how to truly respect ourselves.

One must learn that this kind of self-respect does not come easily. Among many successes, there will be failures along the way that one must accept as inevitable. We are human. We will all fail; there are no exceptions. Even one who holds their self in the highest regard will have to come to learn this. The difference between self-respect as a value of self-worth and one’s regard for their standing or position is that when one fails their standing in society diminishes as a result while self-worth cannot be destroyed by a failure unless one allows it too. That is why it is of the greatest importance that we begin to view self-respect as the way we view ourselves, not the way we are viewed by society. We must free ourselves from the expectations of others and find ways to like our selves with all of our imperfections and flaws. It is only then can one discover the real meaning of self-respect.

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Understanding the Real Concept of Self Respect. (2021, Dec 15). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/understanding-the-real-concept-of-self-respect-essay

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