“Self-respect is the fruit of discipline.” (Abraham J. Heschel)
Self-respect is the first rung on the ladder of confidence. If I do not have respect for myself, then I will never be able to confidently go forth. I will always be wondering whether I am a fraud, merely bamboozling myself and those around me.
Respect is a buzzword these days. Hardly a big game goes by that some athlete or another claims that someone has disrespected them. Sometimes it is hoodlums who use a lack of respect from others as an excuse for their miscreant behaviors. Many complain that others do not respect them, but few look inward to see whether the perceived lack of respect doesn’t start from within.
In my own life, when I have felt as though people around me weren’t showing me what I considered to be proper respect, it was merely a reflection of the feelings I harbored. I was not respecting myself enough, and therefore I couldn’t see that respect from others.
More often than not, when I have been in that place it has been because of a lack of discipline in my life. I am not talking here about discipline that is heaped on me from some outside source. I am talking about self-discipline. I am talking about living my life by a consistent moral or ethical code.
There are plenty of examples, most of which I’d never write here. One, though, that comes to mind has to do with my weight. As many of you know I am in the beginning steps of my journey toward better health. In recent years I have been very un-disciplined with myself. I haven’t eaten right, I have actively avoided anything that looked like exercise, and so on.
As the years have worn on I had a lower and lower opinion of myself. I saw myself as just a fat guy who couldn’t get his act together. Because of my jaded filter, I saw the world around me as full of people who were actively disrespecting me. They weren’t necessarily dissing me for my weight, it could be my job performance, how I conduct my personal life, or anything else where I decided to see it. I was miserable.
I am still grossly overweight, and will be for some time to come. You don’t undo the years of neglect and punishment I have put on my body in short order. But, today I have a new found respect for myself. I am re-learning how to be disciplined with my eating habits, and my exercise. I am not training for a marathon or anything, but I am walking like there is no tomorrow. I am eating right, planning my meals, and increasing my healthy foods, while decreasing those that harm me.
In a very short time I have seen a marked increase in my self-respect, and with it has come an increase to my confidence. I think it is addictive. Each day I feel a little better, and I want more, so I continue to discipline myself, and I feed the virtuous cycle.
If self-respect is the fruit of discipline, then confidence is the fruit of self-respect. Together, the three make me stronger by the day.