What is Self-respect and How Does it Relate to Self-esteem?
The terms “self-esteem” and “self-respect” may seem at first glance very similar, if not exactly the same. But they are indeed very different things and have very different consequences, especially when cultivated at a young age.
Psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors and other experts for years have encouraged parents and teachers to cultivate self-esteem in kids.
About thirty years ago, it became very popular among child experts to tout self-esteem as the solution to all our children’s problems. We’ve heard it a million times—high self-esteem is good, low self-esteem is bad.
High self-esteem is good, Low self-esteem is bad?
But what does this really mean and what effect does it have in the long-term?
Self-esteem means simply thinking highly of one’s self. Many parents, teachers and psychologists feel that by showering a child with praise, he or she will grow up with a positive attitude and confidence. But often self-esteem that is left unchecked can develop into destructive behaviour: thinking less of others, ungratefulness, arrogance, cockiness.
The pursuit of self-esteem can become, as described by family psychologist and parenting expert John Rosemond, “an excuse to do your own thing—regardless of whether or not the “thing” in question is anti-social—and quickly mutate[s] into self-worship.”
Self-respect, on the other hand, is a mindset that allows us to become grateful, humble and well-adjusted. Self-respect encompasses respect not just of ourselves, but also of others. In fact, by respecting our fellow humans we can learn to respect ourselves more. When we have self-respect, we love ourselves but do not become arrogant or cocky. As Rosemond puts it, “A person growing in self-respect understands that he is an imperfect being who was given the gift of life in order to serve.”
Self-respect is akin to the Golden Rule: in order to receive respect and learn to respect ourselves, we must learn to give respect to others. And while having confidence is not a bad thing, people who are over-confident (and who are often seen as arrogant) haven’t learned this principle—that in order to get respect from others and from ourselves, we must first learn to give.
Self-respect is gained “not by being told how wonderful you are,” Rosemond writes. “But by developing respect for others.”
As you’ve probably experienced, people who have grown up being told how great they are usually aren’t very fun to be around and don’t make very good friends. But people who have been taught to take an interest in and care about others while maintaining a positive attitude about themselves tend to be the type of interesting people with whom we enjoy spending time.
By encouraging our children’s individuality and growth by teaching them to be confident yet humble and respectful, we can help them become adults who have healthy, stable relationships and friendships, and respect for themselves and others.
Mark Arens – About the Author:
Ego – The False Centre
The ego is not individual. Ego is a social phenomenon – it is society, its not you. But it gives you a function in the society, a hierarchy in the society. And if you remain satisfied with it, you will miss the whole opportunity of finding the self.
And that’s why you are so miserable.
With a plastic life, how can you be happy?
With a false life, how can you be ecstatic and blissful? And then this ego creates many miseries, millions of them.
You cannot see, because it is your own darkness. You are attuned to it.
Have you ever noticed that all types of miseries enter through the ego? It cannot make you blissful; it can only make you miserable.
Ego is hell.
Whenever you suffer, just try to watch and analyze, and you will find, somewhere the ego is the cause of it. And the ego goes on finding causes to suffer.
You are an egoist, as everyone is. Some are very gross, just on the surface, and they are not so difficult. Some are very subtle, deep down, and they are the real problems.
This ego comes continuously in conflict with others because every ego is so unconfident about itself. Is has to be – it is a false thing. When you don’t have anything in your hand and you just think that something is there, then there will be a problem.
If somebody says, “There is nothing,” immediately the fight will start, because you also feel that there is nothing. The other makes you aware of the fact.
Ego is false, it is nothing.
That you also know.
How can you miss knowing it? It is impossible! A conscious being – how can he miss knowing that this ego is just false? And then others say that there is nothing – and whenever the others say that there is nothing they hit a wound, they say a truth – and nothing hits like the truth.
You have to defend, because if you don’t defend, if you don’t become defensive, then where will you be?
You will be lost.
The identity will be broken.
So you have to defend and fight – that is the clash.
A man who attains to the self is never in any clash. Others may come and clash with him, but he is never in clash with anybody.
It happened that one Zen master was passing through a street. A man came running and hit him hard. The master fell down. Then he got up and started to walk in the same direction in which he was going before, not even looking back.
A disciple was with the master. He was simply shocked. He said, “Who is this man? What is this? If one lives in such a way, then anybody can come and kill you. And you have not even looked at that person, who he is, and why he did it.” The master said, “That is his problem, not mine.”
You can clash with an enlightened man, but that is your problem, not his. And if you are hurt in that clash, that too is your own problem. He cannot hurt you. And it is like knocking against a wall – you will be hurt, but the wall has not hurt you.
The ego is always looking for some trouble. Why? Because if nobody pays attention to you, the ego feels hungry. It lives on attention.
So even if somebody is fighting and angry with you, that too is good because at least the attention is paid. If somebody loves, it is okay. If somebody is not loving you, then even anger will be good. At least the attention will come to you. But if nobody is paying any attention to you, nobody thinks that you are somebody important, significant, then how will you feed your ego?
Other’s attention is needed.
In millions of ways you attract the attention of others; you dress in a certain way, you try to look beautiful, you behave, you become very polite, you change. When you feel what type of situation is there, you immediately change so that people pay attention to you.
This is a deep begging.
A real beggar is one who asks for and demands attention. And a real emperor is one who lives in himself; he has a center of his own, he doesn’t depend on anybody else.
Buddha sitting under his bodhi tree…if the whole world suddenly disappears, will it make any difference to Buddha? – none. It will not make any difference at all. If the whole world disappears, it will not make any difference because he has attained to the centre.
But you, if the wife escapes, divorces you, goes to somebody else, you are completely shattered – because she had been paying attention to you, caring, loving, moving around you, helping you to feel that you were somebody. Your whole empire is lost, you are simply shattered. You start thinking about suicide. Why? Why, if a wife leaves you, should you commit suicide? Why, if a husband leaves you, should you commit suicide? Because you don’t have any center of your own. The wife was giving you the center; the husband was giving you the center.
This is how people exist. This is how people become dependent on others. It is a deep slavery. Ego HAS to be a slave. It depends on others. And only a person who has no ego is for the first time a master; he is no longer a slave. Try to understand this.
And start looking for the ego – not in others, that is not your business, but in yourself. Whenever you feel miserable, immediately close you eyes and try to find out from where the misery is coming and you will always find it is the false center which has clashed with someone.
From Beyond the Frontier of the Mind by Osho