I believe my own self respect has reached peaks and valleys over my lifetime. I know that when I'm in a healthy state of mind, I'm able to take better care of myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I also know that when circumstances out of my control have affected my daily life, I have questioned myself, beat myself up, and let myself down. I know that for me, negativity is contagious and it takes an enormous amount of awareness and self control not to get sucked into that vortex. I believe all of these things have an impact on my self respect.
In my darkest moments, I wasn't able to see myself as worthy of anything. "I can't..." was my catch phrase. I couldn't see myself succeeding in anything because I convinced myself that I wasn't capable, I wasn't deserving, and no matter how many people encouraged me that I "could," I didn't have enough respect for myself to even try. It was in the moments when someone else would tell me I "couldn't," that something would change. I felt the need to prove them wrong, to surpass their expectations. Suddenly, the things I had doubted about myself, became things I prided myself on. The more pride I felt about my accomplishments, the more respect I gained for myself. The more respect I had for myself, the more capable I became. Over time, I became more aware of the limitations I had placed on myself.
I have no degree or scientific research to base my knowledge or opinions. I've never taken a psychology course, or studied the human brain. The only place I can speak from is my own experience. What I have learned on my own personal journey is that our upbringings, our genetic makeup, our life's events, and our choices all have an impact on who we become, but I do not believe that they define us. I'm not sure the answers to the questions I'm asking are definitive. I do believe that each of us has at least a smidgen of self respect deep within us, and whether we nurture it or ignore it, is completely up to the individual. I guess the real question is, which will you choose to do?