I recently went shopping with a friend I had not seen for a while – when we saw each other, we caught up on what was happening in our lives. We spoke on a variety of issues including our mental wellbeing. One thing that stood out in our conversations was that we were both on a journey of self discovery and as difficult as the journey seemed, we had embraced it and whatever these changes would bring to our lives. As we journey through life, we have to sometimes stop and reflect on who we are becoming – removing what is toxic from our lives, focusing on what brings us value and identifying what is important to us. When I met up with my friend – it was not awkward and we continued from where we left off even though I had not seen or talked to her in a long time.
I have recently seen a few post on social media about low maintenance friendships you can pick up from wherever you left them. I think this is all good as life happens and we sometimes find ourselves in situations where we are battling different situations at a time. It is nice to catch up with friends every now and again and though it is great to have people who care in your corner, we never know what they are dealing with and must show empathy and respect in our relationships regardless of how frequent we communicate. We humans are social beings and the need in us to share some form of connection with others is one that cannot be ignored. Over the years, I have noticed that this need to be connected with others can sometimes lead to us neglecting our own needs and self worth in order to belong.
Most of us have been in situations where we have remained quiet when we should have spoken up to keep the peace or maintain a relationship – or we may have agreed to go to places we may not have been comfortable with just to fit in. I wanted to pick on this subject today because many times I had neglected my self worth to please people – and we may even find ourselves doing this in our work places as well as in our various relationships. Earlier this year as I looked at my life, there were several instances I found myself in where I had sacrificed my self respect to be accepted by others. As I continued in my assessment, I came to realise that what you allow shapes your view of yourself and how you allow others treat you.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how abuse starts in relationship – I picked up on how the abuser will chip away at the confidence of their victim until they have control of them. The same goes for self respect – from when we are children the expectations of our parents to do their bidding without giving children a chance to find out who they are as individuals, leads to one neglecting their own needs and living for the approval of others. This can translate to the work environment and relationships where people with little self respect will agree to everything without ever voicing out their needs.
Speaking up can be hard – but I have learnt that one must learn to speak factually on their own behalf to ensure that they are not being disrespected. There have been several instances where I had chosen not to speak up when I had been disrespected by people I trusted and while that in itself can be a good thing sometimes – it did not serve me well in the long run. I was afraid of speaking up because people will make it seem like I was trying to argue every time I tried to express my feelings. In times when I had not spoken up when I should have, I had found that I was taken advantage of and the moment I decided to do what was best for me, I somehow became difficult. Like many people, this need to be seen as good always plagued me so much so that I felt I needed to tell my side of the story or be likeable to everyone. Those were impossible expectations I had placed on myself and to maintain these expectations, I had sacrificed my self respect in the process.
Once I identified what I was doing wrong, I set out to change this and one of the first things I did was to set my values. After doing that, I highlighted what was important to me in my relationships and also, saying no did not make me a bad person. I started paying attention to how I related to people and how they related back to me – if any red flags come up, I addressed it immediately in honesty. A few weeks into these changes, I remember saying no to someone I would never have said no to and it felt great. For some, they were ok with me saying no but with others, it was almost unheard of that I should say no to their requests. The people that felt I was arguing whenever I voiced out my opinions – I had to make some very hard decisions about those relationships. I was choosing me and the first place I had to start was to have respect for myself. One sentence I have chosen to use these days when people simply decide that my saying no is not good enough is to ask them if I have a right to say no – I find this always resolves this issue.
We all have experiences that shape us into the people we eventually become – however, if you look closely at your life and find that there is a trait that needs changing, then go ahead and change it. There is a saying in my language that translates ‘Only a fool doesn’t change their mind’ – be brave enough to change what does not serve any good purpose in your life and make no apologies for it. For years I have witnessed people being labelled as difficult when they have simply tried to express how they feel. For some people, they get emotional when they try to express themselves and these emotions can manifest themselves as anger, tears or just sheer frustration – speak up anyway.
Only a fool doesn’t change their mind’African Saying
Choose you and while you do that, make sure you are respectful of other people and their wishes – it is always a two way street and in order to ensure that you are respected, you must also respect others. Do reach out and share your experiences so we can effect the change we need.
What you allow shapes your view of yourself and how you allow others treat you.Tweet
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Learning to say no has been one of the difficult things I have done this year, I’m not there yet but certainly well on the path. People have commented In my language “wa ba so” meaning I think I have arrived. Not far from the truth I have grown and matured by experience and realised that who I was yesterday is not who I want to be today or tomorrow. Most people in the name of being older or richer or in a seemingly good standing take advantage of you until you make a firm decision to stop it. Say no for your own good if it doesn’t sit well with your values. God bless you May
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Thanks AJ – it even happens in church and one must be comfortable enough to say no and not care about what people say.