What does it mean to “honor one’s Self”? Some may think of it as selfish or self-centered. Others may mistake it for indulgence, or doing “whatever we want, whenever we want,” because it feels good. However, neither of these perspectives is true in the context of this writing. What I hope to impart today is the understanding that to honor one’s Self is to honor the Truth of who we are and to embrace a level of Self-worth and Self-acceptance from deep within.
Above all else, it is our Self-worth that is our most precious, natural resource. I say “natural” because it is perfectly natural for us to feel worthy. We come that way! But through our life experiences, we often begin to question and doubt our worthiness, our Self-acceptance begins to wane, and our original, precious Self becomes the very aspect of our being that we abuse, neglect, and destroy the most. In reality, there is nothing more debilitating than the pain we inflict upon ourselves by denying who we truly are. Yet, we do it all the time: unconsciously moving away from our truest nature, abandoning the Self, then wanting and waiting for another to come along and retrieve us.
Many people spend entire lifetimes searching for ways, and other people, to fill the void left by leaving themselves and become increasingly lonely and bitter when nothing and no one can ease the emptiness. This is not because there’s no one to love them, but rather, because no one CAN love us the way they are intended to love ourselves. When we stop honoring, respecting and validating ourselves, we have simply forgotten who we truly are, and our task at hand is to remember. Until we do, there is no one else who can do it for us.
If, in this moment, you recognize yourself in these words, know this: on the very deepest level of your consciousness, you already know that you are worthy; that you are loved. The longing that you feel is simply the Truth awakening within you.
Most live much of their lives with these subtle negative emotions and never associate them with a lack of Self-acceptance or Self-worth; however, there are always tell-tale signs of the culprit if we are paying attention. We may feel a nagging sense that something’s missing. We may be self-conscious or paranoid that we are being judged, or we may be quick to judge others. We beat ourselves up with shame and guilt before anyone else even has the opportunity, and believe we are responsible for others’ pain. We often have a string of failed relationships or unhealthy friendships, or even jobs. We will sometimes be over-confident to the point of arrogance, superior in our communication with others or overly competitive and not understand why people don’t want to play on our teams. In our intimate relationships we may be unable to express ourselves freely or ask for what we want, both emotionally and sexually, or we may be extreme in either case, over-compensating for our fear. All of these, and more, are examples of a lack of Self-worth and Self-acceptance and, as you can see, are detrimental to our ability to create healthy, thriving relationships in the world, beginning with our relationship with the Self.
This is not to say we can’t recover and heal from these negative beliefs about ourselves, however, we must begin with the willingness to face the truth about ourselves…the beautiful, glorious Truth that we are, and always have been, worth loving.
During a time in my life when doing so seemed the least likely or appropriate thing to do, I read the following excerpt from a book entitled, Honoring the Self, by Nathaniel Branden. These words literally changed my life! The doors of Self-acceptance swung wide, and I was encouraged again to seek from within that which I’d sought from others for so long. The essence of this simple truth has remained at the core of my life and my work with others, and through this I’ve discovered that to honor my Self is to honor the Divine. For this I am so grateful! I share it with you now, with love and hope that you too will begin the journey to awakening, celebrating, and honoring your beautiful, Divine Self!
“Of all the judgments that we pass in life, none is as important as the one we pass on ourselves, for that judgment touches the very center of our existence.
…No significant aspect of our thinking, motivation, feelings, or behavior is unaffected by our self-evaluation…
The first act of honoring the self is the assertion of consciousness: the choice to think, to be aware, to send the searchlight of consciousness outward toward the world and inward toward our own being. To default on this effort is to default on the self at the most basic level.
To honor the self is to be willing to think independently, to live by our own mind, and to have the courage of our own perceptions and judgments.
To honor the self is to be willing to know not only what we think but also what we feel, what we want, need, desire, suffer over, are frightened or angered by – and to accept our right to experience such feelings. The opposite of this attitude is denial, disowning, repression – self-repudiation.
To honor the self is to preserve an attitude of self-acceptance – which means to accept what we are, without self-oppression or self-castigation, without any pretense about the truth of our own being, pretense aimed at deceiving either ourselves or anyone else.
To honor the self is to live authentically, to speak and act from our innermost convictions and feelings.
To honor the self is to refuse to accept unearned guilt, and to do our best to correct such guilt as we may have earned.
To honor the self is to be committed to our right to exist which proceeds from the knowledge that our life does not belong to others and that we are not here on earth to live up to someone else’s expectations. To many people, this is a terrifying responsibility.
To honor the self is to be in love with our own life, in love with our possibilities for growth and for experiencing joy, in love with the process of discovery and exploring our distinctively human potentialities.
Thus we can begin to see that to honor the self is to practice selfishness in the highest, noblest, and least understood sense of that word. And this, I shall argue, requires enormous independence, courage, and integrity.”
“There is no gift more profound than the honor of one’s Self.” — Kate Bares-Cochrun