The poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, ‘What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.’ Those words could have both positive and negative connotations that are dependent upon a person’s persona and demeanour.
There are some people that just seem to attract trouble, scorn, abuse, disdain, and are victimised while others appear to attract, wealth, happiness, prosperity and the like.
A logical question to ask is why?
The answer is not as simple as you would probably first think.
There have been people who have made billions of dollars and still killed themselves, there have been successful and famous figures in the public eye who have abused their own bodies with chemical substances and people who have been adored by millions and lacked the respect and love of their own flesh and blood.
To go into this further, there are other people who have nothing materially or financially to their name and yet their knowledge, wisdom and actions command respect from those around them.
Real respect has nothing to do with a person’s financial net worth or what country they were born in. It comes from a person’s respect that can only come from within.
An example of self-respect can be understood in a story that is attributed to the Buddha.
The Story of the Angry Young Man and The Buddha
It is said that one day the Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him, saying all kind of rude words.
The Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man, “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”
The young man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.”
The Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.”
Things get more complicated in situations where the treatment goes beyond verbal abuse.
Everything in existence is a manifestation and adaptation of energy and we attract or repel people into our lives depending on the vibration rate of our own conscious and unconscious thoughts and actions.
Some people are internally driven and can function while making decisions without any input from other people, and others are externally driven and are dependent on the opinions of others.
People that are dependent will always seek approval and validation from external sources to make themselves feel better. These people are the ones that generally end up being physically mentally and psychologically abused by others.
The type of person who has internal self-respect will always be able to thrive in any situation. Having said that they will have flaws too… an internally focused person can be selfish, greedy, ignorant, domineering, haughty, and so on…
Another example of a person who cultivated an unshakable self-image was the ancient Greek philosopher Diagones of Sinope.
According to legend, the conqueror Alexander the Great came to visit the Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope. Alexander wanted to fulfil a wish for Diogenes and asked him what he desired. According to the version recounted by the historian Diogenes Laërtius. Diogenes the philosopher is said to have replied “Only for you to stand out of my light.”
Various historians and philosophers give a number of accounts to the incident, however the point to be emphasized is that even a person without riches can cultivate a stronger state of mind than a person who has vast amounts of riches.
In the version that the philosopher Plutarch gives, Alexander the Great shows his respect and says “But truly, if I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes.”
Some may scoff and assert ‘these stories are not real, the real world is a much tougher place.’
The truth of that is that our world is a direct reflection of the way that we think.
A loser will always attempt to find ways why they will never succeed, and surprisingly they prove themselves right, so they can utter with a idiotic smirk, ‘you see, I told you that it would never work…’ ‘I told you that I would fail…’
Well, you may be right, and Henry Ford understood that when he uttered the following quote.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” ― Henry Ford.
Some people frequently say things like ‘you must give respect to get respect.’ To be completely honest that has not been my experience.
Respect from others often comes when you are not seeking respect from them, but you instead command respect by cultivating self-respect.
This position of being able to command respect can also loosely be related to fear. However I would not call that respect, but instead a form of persuasion.
To use an example, if someone held a loaded gun to your head then it is likely that you would do all sorts of things to align with the wishes of the assailant, however that would not be out of respect, but though fear.
This leads to an interesting section where we look at victims and victimisers. A victim is a person who is harmed at the hands of another, or even by themselves. A victimizer is a person who harms other people.
In his work the Republic by the philosopher Plato, one of the participants in a conversation asks the question of whether is better to be a victim or victimizer. This was also framed within the larger question about the nature of justice. This question still causes violent disagreements to this very day and we see it in every aspect of society from politics, war, economics, business, education and so on.
Typically victimizers inflict harm if they can psychologically justify it within their own minds to make themselves feel good about it, even if their actions are malicious or evil.
An example of this can be seen in the Stanley Milgram experiments based on conformity in 1961.
You can see the documentary footage of the experiments here – http://anisometric-inc.com/the-milgram-experiment-on-obedience-and-conformity/
The background to those experiments were based on the testimonies of a number of Nazi SS soldiers after World War II who justified their actions because they were ‘just following orders’ and many people around the world would proclaim that they could never cause harm to an innocent person, so Milgram’s experiments went on to examine the question of how moral people really are in controlled environments where they have to follow orders.
We see in this Milgram experiment as well as others studies of this nature that once a person adopts the persona of a victimizer then they begin to take pleasure in causing harm to others, and for the victims they begin to perpetuate the feelings of inferiority and augment their feelings of worthlessness, powerlessness, helplessness, and this then begins to internalise to feelings of self-hatred and escapism.
Then both victim and victimizer become dependent upon each other for a sense of their identity. It leads to a pitiful situation where neither are free and both are imprisoned by the antagonistic presence of the other.
Victims typically seek approval from their victimizers that they never receive, if anything they only receive more abuse in an increased amount. The victimizers seek the feeling of being powerful even though they lack real power.
These two opposing forces become embroiled in a battle of nihilistic activity, where instead of focusing on the greatest things to be achieved, one side is concerned with keeping others down, and the other with trying to be lifted up.
“What does Nihilism mean?—That the highest values are losing their value.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche,
A person that has real power will never need to try to disable, discombobulate or inhibit anyone else; they would be more powerful by default.
To use an analogy, if you have two people running in a race, why would a person need to cheat if they are quicker and in a more superior condition than the other person?
Both victims and victimisers lack self-respect. Both parties are two sides of a coin that is commonly used and traded, is practically worthless.
Unfortunately there are victims that are made so through the condition and conditioning of their environment, and then they allow victimizers to control their thoughts and actions.
When a victimiser can control a person’s thinking then they do not need to worry about their actions, because their actions will be pre-determined and predictable, this becomes a game where the victim attempts to navigate his or her way out of a maze like a laboratory mice that is searching for a piece of cheese as a reward for doing so. I’ll go into the practice of behaviourism at another time.
I have shared some information regarding the relationship between external respect and self-respect and from here on I’ll look at how a person can cultivate self-respect. This is a complex subject and this is only the first of a multiple part series.
The first and most important thing to understand is that it must all begin with the individual. Yes, that means you.
It is advisable to determine your most important values, and therefore you will be able to be aware of how your emotions work.
For more specific information on how to do that you can download information about it here – http://www.anisometric-inc.com/discover-your-values/
Your head creates your world and although others may attempt to guide, influence and persuade your behaviour, only you can determine your own fate, even if that is to relinquish your personal power to another perceived authority.
One key to being able to generate a powerful level of self-respect is connected to your self-image. Your self-image is the psychological image that you have of yourself that controls every aspect of your identity.
We have more information about it here for you to look at and explore further – http://anisometric-inc.com/how-to-ignite-the-power-of-the-self-image/
A person that has a healthy self-image will not tolerate being spoken about in a disrespectful way and they would not be overly concerned on the views and perspectives of other people.
A person with a high level of self-respect would certainly not allow themselves to be victimized, even by those who ostensibly wield more power than they do.
An example of someone who maintained the highest level of self-respect in the midst of overwhelming power was the character Antigone from the tragic play entitled ‘Antigone’ by the Greek playwright Sophocles written around 441 BCE.
In the play Antigone commits suicide rather than give in to the wishes of unjust treatment by the King of Thebes.
‘For all your crown and your trappings, and your guards—all that your can do is to have me killed.’ – Antigone
Even in the process of death it is possible to maintain self-respect until the end if a person wishes it to be so.
The philosopher Socrates maintained his self-respect by refusing to give up his philosophical enquires and drunk the poisonous hemlock juice to free himself from the punishment of not being able to practice philosophy.
‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’ – Socrates
Ultimately the key to self-respect is to appreciate the value of yourself, and unfortunately many are controlled by external factors such as the media, government, religion, propaganda, friends, enemies, peers, advertising, public figures, and so on. All of these people and institutions have their own agenda which is based on their own values and not your values.
You are truly the only person who can determine your value and worthiness in life.
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.” – Bob Marley
Apart from the things already mentioned there is another vital element to cultivating self-respect and I will mention it in the next segment. Until then, read and re-read this until you become familiar with the reality to only you should have the power to define your reality even if you live under the external influence of others.