If an oak tree represented your level of self-respect, that would be pretty good, right? Order, strength, solidity, the known. Well, perhaps. Without chaotic air currents and stormy clouds, the tree would eventually die.
Likewise, we all have many responsibilities in our day-to-day lives and crises happen from time to time.
The trick is to build order into your life, but to also harvest gold *wisdom* from the inevitable chaos when it comes your way.
This process is how you grow more and more solid over time in the real world. It’s also a never-ending journey.
Respect yourself using feedback
One cool thing about the human body is that it seems to know when you live in a self-respecting way or not. If you listen to this internal compass, you fine-tune your sense of what creates and what breaks apart your self-respect.
Learn self-respect by focusing on these key areas
In the past, I hated making mistakes. But now I understand that the feedback that comes from firsthand experimentation, gives you a huge advantage in life. Only by first learning where your weakness is, can you then sort that area out.
So treat this journey towards rock-steady self-respect as a life-long adventure and experiment. Test out these areas and over time you’ll be able to weather the strongest of storms.
#1 Self-belief. Self-doubt is fine in context, but at some point, you must let go and trust your own convictions. Listen to feedback and actively search for it, but also follow-through on the things you believe in. [Read: 15 feel-good secrets to feel better about yourself]
#2 Reality. We all should co-operate with others to get by. However, if you imagine how the world works or what people are up to, you may create false monsters.
Look at people and learn what it is they want. If you find yourself avoiding looking at a situation or person, you won’t know what it needs for you to achieve a win-win.
#3 Honesty. Ever been around someone you admired due to how totally honest they were able to be, even with their insecurities?
I got into a web of lies, which lasted from my teen years until my early 20s. Not only did this damage my relationships, but they also created way more insecurity than if I’d just been honest about my fears.
Speak your truth and you eliminate those webs. Part of this means letting go of controlling how others perceive you. An exciting way to live, as you’ll never quite know what might happen next, or even what you’ll say or do! Check out the Sam Harris book on this, called Lying. [Read: How to stop lying to yourself and to the people who love you]
#4 Relationships. If you have no friends, you’ll find it impossible to respect yourself in the long-term. Your brain constantly processes your situation as threatening, because humans are highly social creatures.
Without the support of someone who understands your life situation, you’ll be prone to depression and anxiety. So reach out and be consistent about it, until you hone in on the people you most like spending time around.
The same goes for intimate relationships, accountability groups, and family, each play different but important roles.
#5 Edge. Your edge is where discomfort and your deepest fears lie. Seek them out. Play right to the edge of your capacity so that you’re maximally engaged. Take up that public speaking class!
At your edge comes self-respect, aliveness, creativity, and connection. So, lean just beyond it—not so far that you fall into chaos, but enough that you’re shaking! [Read: 15 ways to live your life to the fullest]
#6 Body. Treating your body like a temple pays self-esteem dividends.
-Work out regularly and really push yourself. This is linked to being a super-ager and non-depressed.
-Stretch and sing when you feel restricted.
-Support your gut microbiome with healthy bacteria promoting foods like mushrooms, cruciferous vegetables and complex carbohydrates–and stay away from inflammation-promoting foods.
-Create a stand-up workstation, so you’re not sitting at work during the whole day.
-Stand with confident posture, not slouched over, and you’ll feel more confident.
#7 Past, present, and future. If chaos takes over an important area of your life, it can be difficult to have rock-steady self-esteem. For example, if a parent passes away.
Clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, who teaches at Toronto University, asks you to map out your past, present, and future, focusing on the key areas for well being: career, family, relationships and health, as well as areas where there’s emotional intensity.
Being informal and imperfect’s far better than no map at all, so just write freely.
Then envision a future heaven and future hell. The heaven is where you aim to head towards, should you do the things you know you should do. The future hell is an extra incentive to not do the things you shouldn’t do, in order to avoid a personal hell of your own creation, years down the line. [Read: How to let go of your past and be excited by your future]
#8 Meaning. Believe that what you do do, and what you don’t do, matters. Listen to your internal compass for this. It tells you what is most meaningful to you.
Putting faith back into the value of meaning is a great way to fight against nihilism, which inflicts you if you approach life from the perspective that meaning is completely artificial or illusory. [Read: What is the point of life? Secrets to decode the big cosmic joke]
#9 Heroism. Take responsibility for challenging projects and endeavors that are really meaningful, even when you’re uncertain you’ll succeed. With more of the right responsibility comes a deeper sense of meaning.
Generally, look beyond immediate pleasure gratification. Instead, expect to work hard for everything you get, in conditions of uncertainty. Convert that chaos into order, like a compelling protagonist!
#10 Values. Knowing your values—and actually living up to them—is the crux of self-esteem. Breaking an important personal value even leaves you feeling ashamed. Use this negative feedback to pinpoint what your values are, so that you can honor them in the future!
For example, if you enjoy deep connections, you might feel a constant sense of low self-esteem if you only have superficial ones.
#10 Reading. I’m always amazed at how we are offered the chance to buy the best thoughts to have ever run through a genius’ mind in their whole life, for the price of $0.99 in digital format.
You are who you surround yourself with and that list includes those who lived hundreds of years before you.
Increase the quality of thoughts you are exposed to by diving into the greats. Take your time to understand the likes of: Tolstoy, Nietsche, Orwell, Socrates. It will profoundly strengthen your thinking. [Read: Reinvent your life: 12 must-read books to read in your 20s]
#11 Writing. Writing is thinking on steroids. It forces you to hone your arguments, articulate, and think critically.
You don’t have to publish a blog. Perhaps write on a notepad for 10 minutes a day. It’s hard to emphasize enough how crucial writing is, in training you to gather your own arguments and express them–from job interviews and general communication settings, to personal goals.
#12 Debate. Challenge yourself with opposing views. I’ve found time and time again, whenever I’ve been certain of how the world works, I actually made things harder for myself later down the line.
So now I question my approach to life. Say for example by checking out an author or YouTuber with a different opinion to mine, or watching debates between two intellectually matched people who disagree. This also makes my own arguments more sophisticated and informed.
Resultantly, whenever my worldview does get challenged, I don’t usually get destroyed. Because I’m willing to question my opinions and, secondly, I’ve often bombarded them so thoroughly that I can hold my own.
#13 Self-talk. We’re often far better at remembering negative things about ourselves than our small successes and moments of greatness, where we overcame fears and made an impact. So, don’t forget to reward and congratulate yourself often.
-Do something you love, like reading a book each night or seeing a movie with friends on a weekend.
-Keep a record of your achievements and amazing things people have said about you—a success journal is a positive reinforcement that you can open up right before an important public speech or during a difficult period of your life. [Read: How to build self-confidence: 16 ways to realize you’re worth it]
#14 Gratitude. I do this one nearly every day because I believe gratitude isn’t a talent—it’s a practice.
Don’t overlook the small stuff. Grab a five-minute gratitude journal and remind yourself of what you have to be grateful for each day. Over time you’ll build a ball of joyous energy inside yourself.
#15 Envy. We all sell ourselves in order to show the best within us. It’s good to aspire towards greatness, but know the more personal your struggles behind the scenes, the more universal. And the more likely it is that others are dealing with similar things.
There is no ideal life. Life innately contains suffering. The key is to move towards growth and truth, wherever you’re starting from. Shift your perspective beyond that perfect Facebook profile picture.
#16 Usefulness. It’s hard to give when you’re absorbed by your own troubles. Do something that is useful to others, or for a cause you believe in. You’ll feel self-respect for taking on the responsibility.
#17 Experimentation. Accept that anything challenging and worthwhile involves risks and learning curves. However, with the feedback gained from failures, you’ll be better able to handle similar obstacles in the future. [Read: A helpful reflection – What am I doing with my life?]
#18 River. Let go to the river you feel pulled towards. When you ignore what you feel drawn towards, you disown a part of yourself. Explore your curiosities and inclinations: travel to Nepal, learn necklace-making for an hour each night, take up surfing.
[Read: 18 ways to have high self-esteem and start winning at life]
Self-respect is like Bruce Lee advised, both fluid and powerful. Expect to work hard, but be honest, and move towards things that are more meaningful, and away from those that aren’t.
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