When I was little, I was taught to stand up when adults entered the room. I was told to listen when spoken to and not to interrupt. I was instructed to write thank you notes when I received a gift and to say" thank you," or "you're welcome,", as opposed to "no problem," when appropriate.  This was called good manners. I was considered a sign of respect for one's elders. To be sure, despite being taught to respect others, no one thought to teach me to respect myself. My grandmother would have laughed and thought it a joke that my feelings or desires ought to be respected.

 

How do you teach self-respect? One way of course is by example. Yet it is not an obvious act like generosity or compassion. Perhaps you learn to respect yourself by the virtue of being respected by others. In today's world that is possible.  However, when I was growing up, no one gave much of a thought to respecting children. The axiom, "Children are to be seen and not heard" was in full force when I was in my single digits. I was told to respect others, and it never occurred to me that perhaps they ought to respect me, or That respect was a two-way street. I was "only a child."

 

My mother and her two sisters had it worse.  Their father was in the diplomatic service and the guests to their home for formal or even informal occasions often brought candy or other treats for the host's children. Her mother would thank the giver politely and whisk the candy away, saying to the little girls, "We'll keep this for the guests." One friend of my mother's coopted the hard earned savings gf her three sons to purchase a car. She said, "They get to ride in it, so they can help pay for it. I remember hearing that she was notoriously stingy.

 

My husband told me once how he collected bottles from the beach and got refunds. He'd saved up the money intending to buy something when his parents used it instead. His father regularly raided his stamp collection, taking stamps he had bought with his own money. It's sad to remember how little people thought of children's rights. Nowadays often a child cannot be spanked without someone objecting, whereas in the old days…well some of us remember what today would be grounds for child abuse! I recall that my mother once broke a wooden spoon over my bottom. 

 

I try to respect myself. What is especially important for me is respecting my limits. This is a difficult one for me because I confess to being a people pleaser and so have often over taxed myself in an effort to be kind and nice. However, since I had my hip operation, I have had to deal with limits to my mobility and to my strength. While I try to expand those limits, I also realize I must acknowledge them. Lessons come to us in ways we need to learn. As I grow in my ability to respect my own limits, I will also attain more efficacy in respecting those of others, and for this I am grateful.