Four ways in Building Self-Respect
“WE LIKE ourselves!” So declared more than two thirds of a group of recently polled youths. Typical was 16-year-old Edward who said: “I feel sure of myself and I like that feeling.”
But what about the other third? They battle feelings of inferiority. And you, too, may occasionally feel bad about yourself. How, then, can youths build self-respect?
First, it might be helpful to know your assets and liabilities. One psychologist makes a helpful suggestion: Write down all the things you like and dislike about yourself.
If you’re one who feels “not OK” most of the time, your list of faults may be pages long. You might berate your looks, your intelligence, and your temperament. But you’ll also see that many so-called faults are either quite petty or out of your control—your looks, for example. Why fret over the unchangeable? On the other hand, your personal inventory may reveal serious flaws, such as a quick temper or selfishness. These you can do something about! Conscientiously work on these problems and your self-respect is sure to grow.
Don’t blind yourself to your assets. You may not think that being able to cook or fix a flat tire is that important. But to a hungry person or a stranded motorist, such skills make you a hero! And what about your virtues? Are you studious? Patient? Compassionate? Generous? Kind? Are you also humble, modest, meek and teachable? These virtuous qualities far outweigh physical liabilities. And, remember, we all have qualities that can make us valuable!
What are some specific ways to build self-respect, though? This brief checklist gives but a few:
SET REALISTIC GOALS
If you always shoot for the stars and fall short, you can suffer bitter disappointment. So set goals that are attainable.
What might some be? How about learning a skill, such as typing? Improve or branch out in your reading. Time spent watching TV can easily be diverted to this worthwhile project. Then there is the challenge of learning to play a musical instrument or speak another language. Self-respect is often a useful byproduct of accomplishment!
DO GOOD WORK
Do you have a part-time job or do you work around the house? If you do shoddy work you’re not going to feel too good about yourself. God, however, took pleasure in his creative works and declared the creative epochs to be “good” at their completion. You, too, can take pleasure in whatever work you do and do it skillfully.
DO THINGS FOR OTHERS
Self-respect is not gained by sitting back and letting others wait on you hand and foot. Rather, whoever wants to become great must be able to serve others.
PICK YOUR FRIENDS CAREFULLY
“My relationship with myself is a very unhappy one,” said 17-year-old Barbara. “When I am with people who have confidence in me, I do good work. With those who treat me as an accessory to a machine, I become stupid.”
People who are high-minded or insulting can indeed make you feel bad about yourself. So pick friends that are truly interested in your welfare, friends that build you up. And don’t confine yourself to your own age-group. True, it may not be easy for you to make friends. But if you give of yourself unselfishly, you’ll attract friends.
Well, there is a note of caution because some thinking too much of themselves. Why is this?
Apparently because most of us, in our efforts to gain self-confidence, overshoot the mark. Many become egotistical. Others grossly exaggerate their skills and abilities or are prone to put others down. These are the boasters and braggarts. However, their self-esteem outstrips their true worth.
As Dr. Allan Fromme observes: “A person who has an adequate conception of himself is not sad, but he does not have to be deliriously happy. . . . He is not pessimistic, but his optimism is not unbridled. He is neither foolhardy nor free of specific fears . . . He realizes that he is not the outstanding success of all time, nor is he a perennial failure.”
So be modest. Acknowledge your assets, but don’t ignore your faults. Rather, work on them.