“Respect for ourselves guides our morals. Respect for others guides our manners.” – Laurence Stern
Pillar number two of The GREAT Life is respect. And while there are numerous ways in which respect comes into play in our lives, the two most basic forms are respect for ourselves, and respect for others. I love this quote. It’s very simple, but in a sense, it’s also very profound.
Respect for ourselves guides our morals, but it may be more relevant in the reverse order. What I’ve found to be true in my life is that I am solely responsible for defining my own personal standards. Morals, I think, is almost connotationally limiting. When I hear the word morals, I think of the basics – lying, cheating, stealing, etc. All the do’s and do not’s. But my personal standards cover a wider range of day to day beliefs and interactions.
How do I carry and present myself to others? How do I approach my day to day tasks? How do I deal with conflict, or OTHER PEOPLE’s disrespect toward me? What purposes do I intend to serve with my words and actions? From there, once I have set my own personal standard(s), I can go about the business of living accordingly, because the respect that I show myself (emphasis on self) is relative to what I expect of myself.
That’s why it’s so easy to look at somebody else and assume they lack self-respect. Their standards and expectations for themselves may be drastically different than our expectations for ourselves, OR for them. Despite the actions I see from certain people, I fail to believe that they consciously disrespect themselves. I’ve never heard anyone, under normal circumstances, say “I do not respect myself.” It’s contrary to how we’re built. By definition, respect is to hold in high esteem or honor; or to show regard or consideration for. Truth is, most people probably have plenty of respect for themselves, but maybe very little respect for what WE expect of them. Our standards for others are often higher than our standards for ourselves!
So the pertinent question is, do I have a particular set of personal standards to which I hold myself accountable? It’s only once we have defined our own personal standards that we will know whether or not we are treating ourselves with respect that we deserve, and that we require in order to uphold our own standards of being. Because until then, we have no basis for judgement – good or bad.