The Art of Self Respect
You always hope that when significant moments present themselves, you’ll have something equally significant to say about it. This particular development was something like 4/5 years in the making, and I can now safely say that should some unsuspecting person ever be so brave as to decide they want to spend the rest of their life with me, my answer to a proposal will probably be something along the lines of “Sure, why not?”. So, it’s bitterly unsurprising that when my assessor at the counselling service asked me what I wanted to get out of the sessions, I had no revolutionarily satisfying answer.
“I just want to feel… better.” – best I could muster; no profound realisation, no fancy spiel about the nature of existence, but arguably the most deserving 6 words that had waited far longer to be said than they should have. When the counsellor then went on to suggest that perhaps gaining back some self-respect would be a worthy goal, honestly, I was more than a little taken aback.
The only time I’d ever heard someone referring to self-respect, and more so regaining it, was in the condemning of someone else who’d done something “below them” or otherwise “shameful”. Surely I hadn’t done anything of that calibre deserving that response… at least not in the past half hour. But as they expanded? Well, it’s strange how, sometimes, other people can enlighten you about yourself past the point that you’re willing to admit to.
Hi, my name is Kat, and I am a people pleaser: my most charming and dangerous quality. I only really discovered it in retrospect of my previous relationships when it came to light that I will lie to myself in spectacularly extraordinary ways to convince myself I’m happy…for somebody else. But what I didn’t realise, was that that reaction wasn’t always just a good will for others. Actually, I have perfected the fine art of doing this to make myself hurt. And really it should be all good and well to say, okay, I’ll just stop then…except I’ve become too good at it.
This behaviour I’ve nurtured right under my own nose extends into plenty of areas of my life that were created only to make myself feel better. I may have never had my self-respect called into question before… but then it never really presents as an issue under ‘empowerment’, ‘freedom’, ‘empathy’. As it turns out, empathy is something that really should be reserved for yourself sometimes. And that reservation for one, is what I’m beginning to gather self-respect is: not cutting off little bits of yourself and throwing them at people, not stopping to smell the roses, not trying to be the best that you think you should be; but being the best that you are. I don’t know if you ever struggle with that distinction, but obviously at some point it became a pretty big part of my life. And what I hope to achieve from this point, is peeling the “should” and the “are”…apart.
So hello, my name is Kat, and welcome to step one.