In a pensive moment the other day I pondered the idea of self-respect and for the first time viewed my personality and regular modus operandi in an honest and critical manner. I've been self critical before. Most folks see themselves in the mirror and criticize themselves, for starters. The meandering paths that branch off the main road of self doubt, pity, and negativity are too many to be numbered. I am no different, and I have expended great energies in lambasting and debasing myself in hopes of... of... well, I never quite figured out what I get out of that.
This time, it was a bit different. Respect. It means different things to different people in different walks of life. What did it mean to me? I'm not sure I'm able to really articulate it, but it felt like-- for redundancy's sake-- pure and simple respect. The best I can come up with is as lack of shame when viewing myself. Do you ever read old journal entires, or think of times when you were younger and tried to be a self-respecting mature person? If you're like me, you cringe at those thoughts. I hate reading my old journal entires. They're pathetic. Just once I'd like to see myself in a positive light. Just once.
I'm not naive enough to think that just because I have that desire I will immediately see the results. The law of the harvest is harmonious with Mother Earth's.
But I did make a connection between self-respect and the feeling of being important. I was in a beautiful canyon near the Uintah mountains. I wish I had descriptive powers, I would relate to you a metaphorical scene, one in which the terrain was the human soul, the mountains were the pillars of morals and principles, and the snow coursing down the crags and collecting into violent churning rapids cleansed the soul and brought new life. There was so much water... Everything was melting and any ditch that dipped below the general surface of the ground was filled with it. It was transcendant-- enough to put anyone in an existential mood least of all me.
I was with Mrs. Sixline's side of the family. For all mine and their faults, we sometimes get caught up in the competitiveness of it all. Particularly in temporal matters and who is the furthest down the road of success. A new 5th wheel had been purchased, and Mrs. Sixline and I caught up with some of the camping family and had a little barbecue. I had time to sit and reflect on how I can very much be a different person around different people. I temper some character traits and accentuate others. It reeks of frailty and a lack of self-respect-- fear of being one's true self despite one's surrounding. The key there, of course, is not to be obtuse and difficult and let the world go to hell, but rather to choose one's character model such that one would not be ashamed of one's self irrespective of one's surroundings. As I have not yet reached such a pinnacle of self-acceptance and respect, I am left to be tossed about until such a time as I may put to port and begin the trek up that mountain.
But I digress. Sort of.
I linked, in my mind, the idea of importance, self-respect, and confidence. For the sake of explanation, this microcosm that is the in-laws largely represents how I feel around other folks. At work, in public, at social gatherings, etc... I am at a very alarming loss, at times, of how to conduct myself. Of how to be persuasive. Of formulate cogent thought. Of how to think. Put simply, I feel stupid. Embarrassingly stupid. Not quick enough, not bright enough, not smart enough, not thorough enough, not enough.
To fix this, it dawned on me, I have to begin to throw out the silly notion that others will give me that self-respect. Looking to what others think of you and relying on those positive reviews is short sighted and temporary. Respecting yourself as a child of God will instill a sense of purpose, which will give way to feelings of importance.