I used to think that to have self-respect, you had to be aggressive about it. I used to think that the people who were most assertive were the ones who everyone admired most: the one with mic drop opinions, the ones with harsh attitudes, the ones who were slightly insulting and the ones who didn’t let anyone off comment slide.
I am slowly learning that having self-respect has nothing to do with making others think you are untouchable. It has nothing to do with seeming like the toughest person in the room.
Self-respect is realizing that the need to confront, aggress, look tough, advocate for the devil and seem untouchable is a way to compensate. It’s what people do when they feel vulnerable and unsafe.
Real self-respect is knowing what’s worth standing up for, but it’s also knowing that being confrontational rarely gets you what you want.
I am slowly learning that really having self-respect is having the wherewithal to control yourself more than you try to control other people. It’s being able to strategize for what you want and communicate clearly. It’s dealing with your own issues so you don’t take them out on other people.
It’s no longer trying to convince people to respect you when they have no intention of doing so. It’s longer trying to convince people to love when when they have no intention of doing so.
Having real self-respect means you’re able to be kind to everyone. It means that even when people insult you and are cruel, you can wish them well and disengage. It means that you don’t have to be defensive, because you are no longer so worried that you are weak.
It means you know when to walk away, and you know that when it’s time to fight for what you care about, “fighting” isn’t going to be what convinces anyone else to listen to you.
Having self-respect is understanding yourself well enough to understand other people. It’s approaching them with as much empathy and compassion and mindfulness as you do yourself.
And something incredible happens when you stop worrying about seeming like you are undoubtedly self-respecting and start actually offering yourself the respect you deserve: you’re no longer in a fight with everyone you meet. You are no longer in competition, it’s no longer a battle to see who can come out on top.
When you end the war within yourself, you stop projecting it onto others. The peace in your life is only as great as the peace in your mind.