This may be one of my new favorite words!
self-regard- (noun) the quality of being worthy of esteem or respect. A sense of one's own dignity or worth
Why is it that so many times we sacrifice our own dreams, integrity, and beliefs either out of fear of the consequences or because we unconsciously question our personal worth? I have been very conscious of this theme lately, as it has come up time after time with people I have talked with. Most of the time they are not able to see the pattern and if they do, are choosing to deny themselves rather than face the process of standing strong. Is this a cultural thing? A woman's thing? A learned behavior? I don't know, but what I do know is that it leads to a perpetual spiral of self-doubt, loneliness, and unfulfilled dreams. How is this need to accommodate and sacrifice our own self so powerful and controlling?
A common scenario: marriage. We vow our love and adoration to a person, a lifestyle that seems so magical, and it is on the surface. Years later you find yourself a bit less vibrant and while everything is "fine", if you were really honest with yourself you would realize how far you have strayed from your inner drive, passion, and calling. It is not to say that you cannot continue to have a great marriage or relationship after many years, but it takes a very active, conscious, honest engagement with the other person. Holding yourself as accountable for actions and reactions as you hold your partner. The fear around truth and discovery can be so powerful that it is easy to spin a scenario or behavior in a way that justifies the means, however harmful. It is the little things that add up over time that become so hurtful and harmful to a great relationship. As an example in my own life: my husband has long days at the hospital and I ask that he check in at some point between cases so I know when to expect him home. Sometimes he doesn't so I have no idea if I should expect him at 5pm or 10 pm. This obviously makes a difference in how I plan my evening. If I don't hear from him I could certainly think: "He is such a dedicated doctor and he is so wrapped up in caring for his patients he certainly doesn't have time to call me.", or "I am so lucky to have a partner that gives himself to others day after day, who am I to ask him to take time out to call me?" I could come up with many reasonable excuses that all are anchored in truth but what about what I am really feeling? I am feeling that my partner is not valuing our relationship and commitment. I am not asking him to change his day, I am just asking for a 2-minute phone call so I can plan accordingly and we can co-parent our children in an honest way. This second approach takes a bit more self-reflection and thoughtful conversation but certainly will get at the feelings beneath the request of a phone call. I also know that if I press the issue of him not calling I may get the honest response of "Oh, I wasn't thinking of you today, sorry." Ahhh, knife to the heart!!!! But, once I have healed from that comment I am now able to deal with something at the core of our relationship. What is going on between us that you leave for the day and for 12 hours you don't think of our girls or me? Yes, that is hard to take on but these are the sorts of conversations that create lasting relationships that nurture your soul and sustain the difficult times. Honesty can be brutal and you have to be prepared for the answer but it can also allow a sense of vulnerability, closeness, and depth of conversation that holds relationships together for years. If you can deal with these feelings and concerns when they arise and are small and seemingly petty you most likely will avoid that larger pitfalls of relationships.
"Self-regard" asks that you require yourself and others to recognize that you are worthy of the truth and the honesty that comes with it. The willingness to jump in with both feet, risk failure but also risk the opportunity for greatness! Choose your path and hold yourself accountable for asking for what you deserve and are worthy of.