We more or less understand the meaning of self-respect which is to keep or show respect to one’s own self. A self-respecting person is one who tends to justify his/her deeds or actions or reactions in the intrinsic belief that s/he cannot possibly do or say wrong things, and if s/he gets insulted by others in the process or is asked to do or comply with ridiculous tasks s/he gets mortally offended. Losing one’s self-respect is often the end of the world for a truly self-respecting individual. This, of course, differs from individual to individual depending on the individual’s perception about it and whether his/her sense of self-respect is genuine or cultivated or vain. To this point we will come at a later context. First, we must try our best to explain the syndrome of self-respect or self-esteem further.
How does self-respect come about? We have to be clear about one thing that we cannot possibly create self-respect on our own; supposing we can the questions are at which stage of our personality development have we created this: at birth itself or in school/college days or during working life or during married life? Obviously, we cannot provide the answers. Therefore, we must consider this with a detached analysis.
Respecting one’s own self is subject to the basic fact that one knows oneself well. To put it in a personal perspective, I know myself well which is dependent on the attributes of my personality: what is my nature, how I speak or communicate to others, am I honest and frank, my beliefs and convictions, do I look presentable or not and so on. Now, for these attributes to develop in us we need a background or a base, and that base is obviously our society and our upbringing. Our personality develops from these: the environment we are born and brought up in, our traditions and beliefs given by our parents, the education we’ve got in schools and colleges, our level of intelligence and presence of mind, quality of the company we’ve been keeping all the time, nature and stature of our jobs or businesses, and most importantly, how the society and the others behave with us, look at us and treat us in all respects. From all these attributes in me I come to know my personality, and convinced in my ability, I start respecting myself or that I become a self-respecting person.
Another factor of paramount importance about the syndrome of self-respect is how we treat the others. It is said that we get respect only when we give respect. So, our inability or unwillingness to respect others is a factor of which we are often not aware at all. It reflects our mental state of being, that is to say, how egoistic or condescending or simply proud we are in our outward dealings and how this impacts our self-respect along with relationships. In reality, there is an inverse relationship between our imperiousness and our self-respect: the more the former the less gets the latter. We may be truly unaware of this process or we may pretend our ignorance about this. Whatever it is, this process impacts the sense of self-esteem in us, and if we still go on with our peevishness then we start getting similar reactions from others and our self-respect becomes vain and showy.
This brings us to the point about having a false sense of self-respect. This is only natural, because we cannot deny anyone of the privilege of having self-esteem, and everyone has a right to it, even a vagabond or a thief or a dreaded criminal or all plain corrupt people. If they still prefer to continue living their lives with vain self-esteem, it’s their call, entirely.
For us all normal human beings the key to our self-respect in its truest sense, is to go on respecting all others in every stage of acquaintance in our life in every decent sphere of activity, not only for their jobs/tasks/deeds, but also for their good gestures and behavior. And, as we have mentioned earlier, you must not allow ego or pride come in the way of respecting others. Else, one fine morning you may find one of your closest ones complaining bitterly and disconsolately that you had never really cared for or respected him/her in all your life, which would drive you mercilessly in a spree of introspection as to exactly where you had gone wrong: till you find a clue to it you, as a genuinely self-respecting person, will not be able to live on with self-esteem.
The crux is then, mutual respect for a healthy living in the society of fellow human beings with your head held high, never having to stare at the ignominy of losing or probably losing your self-esteem. As a bonus, this would further strengthen your relationships with family, kin, friends, colleagues and all acquaintances at all levels of decent activities of life.