Dignity, for me, is about respecting yourself and others. There are many ways we can show this kind of respect every single day, and those ways are simpler than you may think!
Many options that come to mind are from the book “How to Make Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. It’s an older book that still rings true for the foundations of human nature, and I highly recommend it.
An example of respecting those around us is as simple as using their name in conversation! Not only is it a sign of reverence and dignity to call someone by their proper name, it’s also, as the book puts it, “the sweetest word in the English language” for each of us. Yes, we love to hear our name spoken aloud in a kind, loving way.
We can also give ourselves dignity and respect. This is equally important to giving respect to others because how we treat ourselves is typically how we treat others. We cannot control anyone else’s thoughts, behaviors, or actions towards us. We can only control how we treat ourselves and the thoughts, behaviors, and actions we choose in response.
What does self respect look like? To me, one of the most important ways of respecting ourselves is following through on our personal commitments. It’s being true to your word, to your values, and to others. It’s owning mistakes with grace, and apologizing when necessary.
The truth is, we disrespect ourselves when we break even the tiniest of agreements. Yes, even the tiniest. I’m not saying we should shame ourselves when we break promises. Rather, I think it’s important to observe those patterns in ourselves and decide how we’d like to re-approach our agreements from a place of dignity and self respect.
The book “The Four Agreements” perfectly teaches this significant concept. Number one is “Be impeccable with your word”. It’s taking complete responsibility for ourselves. It’s following through on small agreements we make with ourselves and others.
For example: if you say you are going to go to the gym at 3:30pm today, that’s a tiny agreement. Sure, an emergency could come up, or you could injure yourself, or maybe you are sick and now is not the day to push it. But 9 times out of 10, you can go to the gym when you said you would, and in doing that repeatedly, you are quite literally respecting yourself.
Your words are powerful, as well as your actions. When we break even tiny promises to ourselves or tell little white lies, we are disrespecting ourselves. Plain and simple. We are stripping ourselves of our own dignity…ouch, right??
I’m not here to preach. I’m human and these are things I seek to do to the best of my abilities. To observe where or when I don’t keep my word or am tempted not to keep it, and course correct quickly. It’s a life-long practice as a human being and I’m in it with you! I make this commitment every day as someone recovering from ED.
This applies to anything and everything: our commitments to our health, our family promises, our priorities, our finances.
I once had a client email me and say that she felt the need to cancel her appointment with me because she didn’t feel prepared. She felt badly that she hadn’t followed through on her homework assignments. We do this sometimes - we have resistance to doing the work or doing things that would benefit us. We say one thing, and we do another.
But I told her that to help her break the pattern, all she needed to do was show up to our appointment. In showing up for herself, she was respecting herself and her health. So many times, showing up is the hardest part but is step one to holding ourselves lovingly accountable to what we truly want.
This is a part of my coaching process as a Nutritionist. I don’t prescribe “perfect diets”. I dig into what has caused your train to feel derailed with food and your body. I learn your patterns so that with baby steps and with time, you are holding yourself to your word and respecting yourself each and every day. It’s the best feeling and creates the best health when we practice this successfully.