Principles of Self-Respect and Clarity
This is a follow up from my last post. I spoke about the 3 R’s to contentment. In my life I have found that just knowing the 3 R’s does not guarantee contentment. It takes small, important little steps and changes in our thoughts to ensure progress in gaining more contentment and serenity.
In other words, we are human and our old ways of behaving and thinking often interfere with our progress. That is why I am writing this post. It is a step by step guide on helping us to gain more clarity and respect for ourselves.
1. When I have made a mistake or feel anxious, I need to separate what I have done from who I am. This harkens back to that “I Am” statement I spoke about in the earlier post. Once we decide on whom “I Am” it is important to accept you will not be the “I Am” immediately or eternally. You will have set backs. We need to simply acknowledge that and release it for what it is – our humanity.
We gain no peace or contentment out of beating ourselves up for mistakes or our humanness. Just like a little child, we need to separate the act from the person. A mistake doesn’t define who you are. We are not our mistakes, we are our lessons learned from the mistake. Punish the act not the person.
2. When I don’t feel good about myself, I need to see what irrational messages I am embracing. Is it an irrational belief about myself? Is it unrealistic? I need to use this uncomfortable feeling as a catalyst into why I believe certain things that harm my self-respect.
I need to ask if this way of thinking is desirable and what I can do to improve my behavior. I need to remember that I am truly loved despite how I may be feeling at this moment. It will also help to sprinkle in some gratitude for what I do have and what good I have done in the past.
3. I must be sensitive to irrational thoughts and willing to challenge and dispute them. All modes of therapy center on the same principle. Therapy’s goal is to get at the heart of our irrational thoughts and dispute them. There is not one issue a client brings to a therapist that doesn’t eventually come down to the discovery and removal of a deep seeded irrational thought.
A common example of this is the irrational belief: “I must be perfect at all times. If I am not then others will see me for who I believe I really am and they will shun me.” This is not only irrational but impossible. No one is perfect at all times but our self-esteem and image believes we should be. Go lightly with your flaws. We all have them. Some are just more adept at hiding them.
4. I am the only person I will have an intimate relationship with my entire life. I need to take care of myself at least as thoughtfully as I do others. Therefore, when I am feeling poorly about myself, I need to unconditionally accept myself and help myself to gain clarity and perspective in the same way I would a close friend.
We often times put ourselves last in the care department, assuming we will get to us later. We fool ourselves into believing it is noble or right to place others’ needs before our own. This is not self-respect or the proper way to care for ourselves. Empathy and support is needed from you for you even more so than for a friend. You are the most important, longest, intimate relationship you will ever have- care for yourself first then you can more effectively care for others.
5. I need to be aware of depression triggers, thoughts that devalue my worth and place in this world. They include but are not limited to the following:
A. Negative Adding- We all do this. This is when we have something go wrong and we automatically think it means we are wrong or that it is proof positive that nothing will work out for you. I just went through this with my website being hacked. I assumed that it was proof that I can’t get ahead or pursue my dreams.
B. Problem Distortion- I magnify the unpleasant things that happen to me and minimize the positive ones. We all do this as well. When good things happen we rarely celebrate or bank those memories. But when negative things happen, we will relive it over and over and over. I call this negative contamination. When we allow one or two negative things to distort the reality and minimize our successes.
C. Catastrophizing- This goes along with the other two. It is when we blow things out of proportion and make an awful event into a catastrophe. Most of the times the actual event was annoying or frustrating at best but we manage to turn it into a major life occurrence. We tend to know and be familiar with disappointment and failure better than peace and serenity. We tend to befriend uneasy events and shun peaceful times. That is a whole article in itself.
D. Lastly, Being over-serious. This is a tendency in more people I believe than anything else. We somehow have gotten the message that life is serious and we must attach serious feelings to every negative thing that happens to us. We tend to think that things are actually as bad as we believe. Can you even remember exactly what you worried about on this date last year? All things pass. There is really very little we need to be so serious about that we can’t allow ourselves to find the humor or ridiculousness in it.
Much of what we accept as negative facts about ourselves is in reality lies. They are distortions we have developed through one of the above processes and they need uncovered and called out for what they truly are—self-imposed limits, based on irrational fears and fallacies!
Please pay attention to how you react to this. It would be common to beat yourself up over this. That is the exact nature we are trying to change. If you feel bad about identifying with some of the mentioned tendencies, just acknowledge that and understand it is just a signal to you that you are human and very much like the rest of us.
We all are just navigating our way through this life and we must operate on the principle that it is progress not perfection that improves our self-respect or clarity.
Author: stephen budd
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