The Art of Inner Beauty (2015)
Chapter 6: Inner Beauty and Self-Respect
Think back to when you were a child. You never thought for a moment that you needed to justify how you deserved to eat that piece of chocolate cake your mother placed in front of you.
You never once doubted about whether you were worthy enough for an impromptu stop at a roadside ice cream stand. And once you and your family did stop, without even being asked, you told the person behind the window what ice cream you wanted – and without exception it was always your favorite (okay so your favorite ice cream flavor changed from day to day). But you were never asked once by anyone surrounding you what you did to deserve that.
Why you were a child. Period. That was reason enough to enjoy ice cream or that stuffed animal at the store.
So why now after all these years you feel you have to explain why you “deserve” the good in life that’s naturally and rightly yours. You don’t have to think about whether you deserve to live in a house that nice or drive a car that nice. Your only explanation for getting it is because you want it. Just by being you is justification enough.
Knowing that you deserve all the good the world is waiting to give you and then accepting it with open arms will occur only when you discover your inner beauty. And that by extension will only occur once you begin to respect yourself.
That’s right, Aretha Franklin had it right all along when she not only sang about respect, but emphasized it by spelling it out: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Others know immediately whether you respect yourself or not. Once they realize that you, indeed do respect yourself, you’ll notice an immediate attitude change toward you.
But more importantly there will be an immediate change in yourself. You’ll stop wondering whether you deserve to start that business or write that novel or even go to the spa and get that massage. Like your child-like alter ego, you’ll step up to that ice cream counter and request your favorite flavor. And you won’t feel the need to defend your right to either that flavor or the ice cream itself. Perhaps the writer E.E.Cummings said it best:
once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
Sounds great! But there’s just one catch, you ask, how do I regain that self-confidence and that self-respect?
Believe it or not, you’re already well on your way of demanding self-respect from yourself and the respect of others around you. If that sentence doesn’t make you stand just a bit taller, it should. Simply by seeking to improve your self-confidence, you’ll find your inner beauty has taken a giant step forward. You may not have realized it at the moment, but when you took that first step toward self-confidence you signaled to the world your desire that it not only respect you, but your need to finally respect yourself.
But beyond that there are several vital actions you need to take in order to gain self-respect.
- Banish fear of failure or rejection.
Let’s return to that ice cream example we used. It never occurred to you that when you stood at that counter and asked for a cone the cashier would even consider telling you no. Your mind didn’t run through a scenario that went something like this, “If she tells me no, I’ll be so humiliated, so ashamed of myself for being undeserving of that ice cream cone.”
Just listening to this line of talk feels absurd, now doesn’t it?
So what’s changed since you were a kid? Stand before that ice cream counter of the universe and declare your favorite flavor, never doubting for a moment that you’ll get it
And by Jove, the world will gladly and nearly immediate respond in the affirmative.
- Take control of your thoughts.
Somewhere between childhood and adulthood we relinquished control of our thoughts. As toddlers many of us dwelled in magical, mystical imaginary world, where we merely thought of having a tea party with friends and there they were, a group of imaginary friends ready to sip tea and keep you company.
By the time you reached your college years, you sought out guidance from the gurus of academia, perhaps, who dissuaded you from making certain career choices because, quite frankly, there either was no money associated with that profession or you didn’t display enough talent to “hit it big.”
From this moment on, vow that while you’ll listen to advice and take the suggestions of others under consideration, you’ll never let their analysis of your talent or intelligence as a limiting factor in your success.
Only you can judge your talent (along with your desire to succeed). Only you can predict how much money you can make through a certain career path. If there is even one individual in the world making a living doing what you’d like to do means that’s it possible. And if it’s possible, then you can do it, too.
- Whatever it is you want to do with your life, prepare yourself for it.
If you know you’re going for a job interview, the experts would recommend that you learned as much as you can about the company that’s considering hiring you. What’s the first thing you would do in this case? Why do some research about the firm, so you can impress the interviewer and give you a leg up on the job.
What makes your life any different? Earlier in this book, we outline steps on how to reach your goals. None of those steps said “just dive in blindly, flail about some and pray that you’ll succeed.”
So why would you go through the most important parts of your life without any prior preparation? If you want to respect yourself, then take your dreams, start preparing and dedicating yourself right now to fulfilling them. Your self-respect will soar.
- Don’t be embarrassed with small, baby steps
The television shows and internet talking heads will tell you something totally different. If you listen to enough of them, they’ll tell you that only way to succeed is by taking “quick and massive action.” That may be so in some cases. But if you want lasting success, the type that passes the test of time, don’t be afraid to take small, incremental steps.
- Set your sights on solutions, not problems.
If you really desire to gain self-respect, then quit keeping your eye on the problem, regardless of how big you may perceive it to be. Instead, keep your eye on the solution to the problem you’re encountering, regardless of its size. Once you do this, you’re far less likely to wallow in self pity and far more likely to start taking steps to resolve it. The bonus to this way of thinking is that it empowers you because you’re taking some type of action. The moment you take action is the moment you begin your journey of self-respect.
- Practice being grateful every day.
This suggestion is not new. In fact, it’s bantered about so often it might even appear trite already. Every expert on every subject, it seems, includes this piece of advice. Why? Because it’s so unbelievably effective. It’s one thing to step up to that ice cream counter of life and tell the cashier exactly what you want. It’s quite another thing, however, to say “thank you very much” after you’re holding the cone in your hand.
What you’ll discover is that the more you say thank you, the more the world will provide you with the good things in life. By extension, the more your inner beauty will shine.
Take a moment right now to think of five things for which you’re grateful. Go ahead, do it right now, we’ll wait for you. If you can’t think of anything else on this surprise, impromptu exercise, think of those family and friends closest to you. Don’t forget that roof over your head, your job that allows you to buy groceries and for that matter, the groceries themselves.
See, it isn’t that difficult at all. And your gratitude list doesn’t have to be splattered with lavish items. The moment you start appreciating what you do have, the more self-respect you’ll develop and that inner glow will shine more brightly than ever before.
- Complete on item that you’ve procrastinated.
There’s nothing more empowering or will improve your self-respect quicker than by finally completing that project you’ve been putting off. Procrastination is a sneaky action. It attacks self-esteem, self-worth and self-respect slowly. Initially, it’s easy to rationalize not doing one item or another.
In fact, you may even have valid reasons for not doing something today. It may be you need just one more important piece in the puzzle before you can tackle that project. Or you may delay the whole endeavor until tomorrow because you ran out of time. Those are all legitimate reasons for the delay.
But there’s come a point where delaying the project for legitimate reasons turns into the sour taste of procrastination. Have you ever put off doing something for so long, you’re even afraid to start it? We’ve all done that.
But if you can buck that fear and even just start it, whether “it” is going back to school, starting your own business or even something as simple as cleaning out that closet, you’ll discover the fear of starting was the worst part of the project.
But something completely miraculous happens when you complete it. As you stand over it, wiping your hands, figuratively speaking, victory of finishing puts another stripe on your shoulders that improves your self-esteem and self-respect. By tackling a project you’ve put off for a while, you’ll discover that your inner beauty will be glowing brightly.
Try this with just one project you’ve procrastinated doing. The next thing you know, you’ll be searching for more. Guaranteed.
Self-respect is an essential facet of inner beauty. How in the world can you as others to respect you and credit you with accomplishments when you fail to respect yourself and in essence even wonder if you’re worthy of their respect.
Just keep in mind that ice cream cone from your childhood, you never doubted for a moment you deserved it. Think of self-respect as the adult version of your favorite ice cream flavor.
Inner beauty is multifaceted and at times as an elusive as a butterfly gently flittering through the air. It’s as shiny as a diamond and far more priceless than any diamond you could buy.
While many individuals search the world over to discover it – some travel to India to practice meditation, others search out gurus to lead them to nirvana – it’s ultimately not found in any single spot on the globe.
Instead your inner beauty is carried deep within you. You can travel the world over if you like. But remember this, if you step on the plane to make your worldwide tour, you’ll never return with inner beauty if you didn’t get in touch with your feelings and emotions while traveling.
For inner beauty isn’t defined by the number of travels you’ve taken, the miles you’ve journeyed and really, not even by the minutes or hours you’ve spent in meditation. Instead, it’s defined by the power within you, the amount of love and respect you have for yourself and how you perceive the world and treat those around you.
Inner beauty isn’t necessarily something that only comes with age and wisdom. It comes ultimately through the power of love – the power of loving yourself just as you are.