True self-respect, being very different from false pride, leads inevitably to respecting others.
- Virginia Moore
Though the concept of self respect would seem like an easy one to understand, people interpret the term differently. The meanings run from quiet self confidence to self defence against attacks from others.
Virginia Moore seems to prefer the former interpretation. The person who has both self respect and self confidence may not only be able to easily fend off personal attacks by others, he or she may act in such a way as to have others prefer to avoid attacking them.
In general, bullies (if we can use that term to describe anyone who commits an oral or written attack on another--a psychological attack--as well as a physical attack) prefer to attack someone they perceive is weaker than themselves. Lacking self confidence and self respect, they want to bring down someone who will not present much of a fight or who will not be able to return the aggression.
A person with self respect and self confidence will understand that some people are not worth their time fussing over. These people are, in a sense, lesser forms of human beings who should not have the ability or right to attack anyone.
It becomes a challenge for someone with this kind of confidence to also believe in equality of all people. How can everyone be equal, but some be lesser beings?
Equality has to do with rights, not abilities. Everyone can have the same rights even if their skills and abilities differ greatly from one to another.
Ironically, bullies take advantage of what they believe are their rights to remove the rights of others.
People with true self respect usually also have self confidence. This combination gives them not just a psychological advantage against attack, but an emotional one as well. That is, they may not become as emotionally upset by an attack from someone they believe to be a lesser person because they understand that the person may not know any better.
While this may seem to contain undertones of racism, nothing of this kind is intended. Those with self confidence and self respect understand that some people don't have these advantages, are emotionally and/or socially underdeveloped and may simply be lashing out at the world because they can't cope with their lives.
We can justifiably grant bullies the same rights as everyone else while limiting their effect on us by drawing on our own emotional security. We may not be able to help the bully, but we don't have to allow him to hurt us because he has problems he can't cope with.
Having self confidence means understanding that you are not a lesser person because you have been attacked or might be attacked by someone who has problems. The term means more than that, of course, but immunizing yourself from the effects of unreasonable attack by others (or any attacks by others) comprises a good part of self confidence and self respect.
We respect others when we grant them the status they deserve by their actions, their behaviour. When we treat them better than their behaviour warrants, we are trying to raise them up to be better people than they are now.
That kind of noble gesture can only be granted by someone with self confidence and self respect.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to make the tough questions of life a bit easier to understand.
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