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November 14th, 2006


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06:39 pm - Self-respect
So many other things to post about, but I have decided to operate on the principle that if you want to post about something but feel it's OK to put it off, then it's probably OK to put it off indefinitely.

Partly inspired by a difficult and interesting question recently asked by brakusjs, I ask the question

From what do you derive your self-respect?

With all of these, I don't claim to be especially proficient, or even more proficient than many of my Friends list, let alone being close to being perfect. The (often small) degree of proficiency I have in each case does give me some self-respect, though.

In no particular order:

I choose to believe I am interesting in a certain way, which may be interesting to some people, and I tend to like other people who are interesting in the same way. The fact that this adjective that I prefer may reasonably be regarded as "geeky" suits me fine. I am pleased to have pursued my interests quite far, to have reached some ground that few other people reach and some ground that nobody before me had ever reached. I am proud to think that I am prepared to do something because it looks interesting and see what comes of it, and sometimes throwing myself into things in this way has demonstrated very interesting results.

I choose to believe that I am, to several (frequently small) degrees, virtuous in several ways. Specifically, I choose to believe that I am, to some extent, kind and generous. I choose to believe that not bragging about how this is the case is also a virtuous thing to do. I derive self-respect from being responsible with my waste and recycling when I can. I am helpful and good at sharing. Sometimes I put other people's interests ahead of my own; occasionally, I do so selflessly. I am getting better at housekeeping.

I derive self-respect from (occasionally in all cases) being a quick learner, having a depth of knowledge and understanding in my field, being humorous and having good ideas. I am sometimes a clear communicator, particularly to those who know nothing about a field that interests me.

I derive self-respect from the fact that I have friends (including Friends!) who care about me. I derive self-respect from the fact that my friends are accomplished and reputable of character, and that I make generally wise decisions about whether I want someone to be, or remain, my friend - yet I remain loyal to my friends. Although I care deeply about my friends, I do not put so much self-respect into the fact that they like me that I would be crushed if that were no longer the case. (Though I would probably have had to do something very bad for that to happen, which would have its own problems.)

I derive self-respect every time I do not judge on appearances, or when I try to confront and eliminate any in-built prejudices I have.

I derive self-respect from the fact that I think about the big questions, even when I cannot find the answers.

I derive self-respect from the fact that there are many things I have thought about and decided not to derive self-respect from. For instance, I do not derive self-respect from the fact that my job pays well, because I believe income, wealth and financial success in life are largely capricious rather than meritorious. If my job were to pay less well then I would not think less of myself, though there certainly would be other problems that that would cause.

This is mostly a rhetorical question - one that you need to answer for yourself, though of course I would be interested to hear your answers. I do apologise to those who are struggling with their self-respect at the moment, possibly for inspiring them to think about matters they might not prefer to think about; on the other hand, if thinking about what gives you self-respect reminds you of how much you have, then so much the better. I don't want to make the counterpart post about self-loathing at the moment.

I don't apologise for saying that I believe that nobody has the right to tell you what you should or shouldn't derive self-respect from; this is a choice you get to make for yourself. (A corollary of this is that it would be wrong for me to tell you that the ways I derive my self-respect are the ways you should derive yours.) All informed choices about sources of self-respect, so long as your expression of self-respect does not act to the detriment of others, are valid. Consequently, this comment that (paraphrasing, but not unreasonably) people should derive self-respect by dressing up really stuck in my craw. It would be wrong to say that people shouldn't derive self-respect by dressing up, and if you already do derive self-respect by dressing up then good for you. However, insisting that your method of deriving self-respect is one that others should adopt, or that people are wrong not to adopt your method, strikes me as very arrogant.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

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From:jvvw
Date:November 14th, 2006 08:13 pm (UTC)
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I've never really got the importance of clothes to most people either, though I've learned that other people form impressions based on such things so things like dressing semi-smartly at work are worthwhile. But once in a while I'll find an item of clothing that the wearing of really boasts my self-confidence in some unfathomable way. Maybe other people get that all the time.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 15th, 2006 12:53 am (UTC)
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In a similar vein, I can think of two or three of my friends who I've seen looking really good in smart suits in leisure situations in the past - and I'm thinking of random not-dressed-up leisure situations, rather than weddings (etc.)
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 15th, 2006 12:52 am (UTC)
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If you enjoy this, there's always the "50 things that make me happy" meme. Anything to come back to when things conspire to get you down, really. :-)

*adds you after far too long* 250th Friend! :-)
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From:wednesdayschild
Date:November 14th, 2006 07:37 pm (UTC)
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I derive self-respect (which differs from self-satisfaction) from acting according to my moral principles. I don't always succeed, and I will say that there are things that I have done that sicken me (quite literally--if I have disappointed myself, I feel physically sick thinking about it) that a) nobody else knows about, b) have hurt nobody, and c) nobody else would care about. None of these things were illegal, but they contravened my moral code, and doing that seriously upsets me. I feel disappointed in myself for that more than for anything else.

I suppose that there are more things that make me lose my self-respect than that I'd say I derive self-respect from; and they're all things that deny what 'makes me me'. So, if I conceal essential parts of my beliefs or character, or alter myself to fit with those around me, or fail to give something my all, or take the easy road--those things make me lose my self-respect, because they take something away from me.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 14th, 2006 11:32 pm (UTC)
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Ahh, now that's an interesting distinction I hadn't considered. Does performing something that makes you feel you have let yourself down mean that you lose your self-respect or add to your self-loathing?

I may be trying to draw a distinction where one doesn't exist here.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 14th, 2006 11:27 pm (UTC)
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Hey hey hey - no talk of arrogance here, missy, this is all about self-respect, not self-loathing!

(Unless you had said "This is because, y'know, I'm right all the time. Funny, that. Plus nobody else seems to be right nearly as often as me. That's why I derive all my self-respect.")
(Deleted comment)
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From:bateleur
Date:November 15th, 2006 11:43 am (UTC)

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I think part of what I was trying to get across was I don't derive self respect from anything. I just have it.

Yup, I was going to post something similar but couldn't work out how to phrase it.
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From:huskyteer
Date:November 15th, 2006 09:32 am (UTC)
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Keeping my head when all about me are losing theirs and blaming it on me.
Trusting myself when all men doubt me, yet making allowance for their doubting too...

I could get more specific, but Kipling expresses it all so well.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 15th, 2006 09:20 pm (UTC)
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Ooh, that bloody If; Mum used to love that poem. I thought I would never live up to it. Now I know I won't, but I don't mind nearly so much!
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From:huskyteer
Date:November 16th, 2006 04:13 pm (UTC)
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You're extremely good at filling the unforgiving minute. And I would say that all men count with you (though perhaps some too much).
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From:j4
Date:November 15th, 2006 10:10 am (UTC)
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Trying to answer this relatively quickly in order to get my gut reaction (which I think is likely to be more accurate): I think I derive self-respect from loving, thinking, and mindful living.

By "loving" I don't mean squeeing and sighing, I mean something more like the 'love' that used to get translated as 'charity'.

In "thinking" I include (by necessity) using the fruits of my thoughts. Not just navel-gazing or daydreaming.

"Mindful living" is harder to summarise quickly. It's to do with a positive acceptance of where I am, wholeheartedly being part of what I'm doing at the time.

*

All informed choices about sources of self-respect, so long as your expression of self-respect does not act to the detriment of others, are valid.

I agree with this, but I think some "informed choices about sources of self-respect" are more self-destructive than others, and those are the choices I'd be most likely to question. The question about whether you should have a 'right' (who confers this right?) to indulge in self-destructive activities (and can you harm yourself without harming others?) is a huge one, though, & I'm not even going to try to answer it here!
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 15th, 2006 09:35 pm (UTC)
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The old "the Greeks had three or four different words for love" thing, right?

There are some pathological cases about the way some people derive their self-respect that definitely act to the detriment of others - essentially, anything that people feel strongly enough to go to war over. That's definitely a special case, but one I don't know how to deal with, either. (It may not be accurate to say that people go to war because their differences of opinion on some matter are sufficiently large; perhaps it takes a difference of opinion and some other war-like nature, or quality, as well. Not sure.)
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From:undyingking
Date:November 15th, 2006 11:53 am (UTC)
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This is too hard for me to think about in great detail atm, but I can say that mine would probably end up pretty similar to your own, which you've thought through nice and clearly to save me the work!

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