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Continued from Previous……
How can we improve our self-image, self-respect, and dignity?
The first step is to Understand Ourselves.
Self-understanding is a most noble cause to pursue. It should primarily be done by the person himself/herself. Following steps may help in running the process.
- Behaviors – can be recognized more easily. Identify the behaviors which show consistently and in a similar manner. Find the triggers for these behaviors. If you can find the trigger, it is good. If it is found in some cases and not others, it is still ok. See whether these behaviors are appropriate or not. If these are not appropriate, try to see why you behave in such a way. Behavior is the window through which you can find clues to your person.
- Thinking Patterns – what are your recurring thoughts? What are the usual ways in which your thinking goes? Is your first thought about protecting yourself? Or is it to wait till a real challenge comes? Is your thinking dominated by anger? Or is it dominated by sympathy? Is your thinking generally clear and focused? Or muddy and scattered? Is your thinking limited to your own interests mostly? Or it goes beyond self? Is your thinking dictated by strict rules learned at home? Or is it open to learn more? There are several more patterns which can be and should be identified.
- Interaction with Others – what are you like socially? Do you like to meet people and be happy with it? Or do you avoid meeting people as much as you can? Do you like to work in a team? Or you like to work alone? Do you make friends easily and carry friendships through your life? Or you make friends rarely? Do you react sharply to others’ behaviors? Or do you take time before reacting? Is your reaction hard and sudden and strong? Or is your reaction soft and thoughtful? Are you popular in your family, workplace, institution? Do you lead the activities mostly? Or do you prefer to follow someone else? There are more questions in the same vein.
- View about Life – how do you generally view life? Yours and others. Do you consider life to be a blessing? Or a burden? Do you start every day with new hope? Or start with new anxiety? Do you feel grateful for another day to live? Or feel burdened by another day? Do you look forward to doing valuable work at your workplace? Or do you drag yourself to workplace? These and similar questions show how we view life and its effect on our overall behavior.
As we complete these steps, we come closer to understanding ourselves. The understanding is based on who we are, why we are so, where are we heading and so on. This is the beginning.
When we understand ourselves and also understand our motivations, triggers, de-motivations, we achieve the second step, Self-Awareness. Self-Awareness establishes our place within ourselves, in our immediate and extended family, in our social circle and in our workplace. We know we exist as a tangible person with a real self. Self-Awareness later leads to two main areas; Purpose in life, and Personal Growth. Purpose in life may be defined once and pursued throughout. Growth is ever going process. Growth is continuous improvement in our thinking, our behaviors and our interactions. There is a very nice book by Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler Ross titled ‘Death – The Final Stage of Growth’. When we are faced with the final reality of imminent death, it opens new avenues of mind working. This final stage of growth never comes before. We shall talk more about Purpose and Growth later.
Self-Awareness leads to the final step, Self-Acceptance. We approve ourselves through real understanding, not through delusion, and accept ourselves. The approval gives us positive view of our self and creates self-respect in our minds. We know we are not perfect, but we do have many good things about us.
There is an important caution here. Self-Acceptance does not mean that we accept ourselves as we are and be happy about it. It is this and more. This is the beginning. It has to lead to Self-Improvement, without which it will be an exercise in snobbery and self-praise.
Self-Acceptance give us motivation to do more and better. It helps us to gain greater control on ourselves, our temper and our reactions.
Self-Acceptance creates a lasting positive image of us in our minds. It helps us to accept others also. It helps us to go easy with one another, knowing that we are all these incredibly fragile beings.
Self-Acceptance also helps to stand firmly in the face of adverse situations. It gives strength and not let us get bogged down easily.
Ego is almost always taken in the negative context. Actually, it is not so. The Id, Ego and Super-ego are three distinct, but interacting agents in Sigmund Freud’s structural model of Psyche. Id is composed on uncontrolled Instinctual desires; Super-ego is the value-based, moralizing authority; while Ego is the learned, organized drive which mediates between Id and Super-ego and provides necessary balanced behavior. Ego decides how we shall act in given circumstances. A healthy Ego provides platform for healthy interactions. Damaged Ego shows in carelessness, ruthlessness and other anti-social behaviors.
Finally, Self-esteem and Humility are positively correlated. Higher the Self-esteem, more shall be humility. Snobs, autocrats, tyrants, sociopaths are all carrying poor Self-esteem as part of a damaged psychological apparatus.
Knowing and accepting ourselves increases our self-image, self-esteem and self-dignity. We are able to repair the damage done by attacks done by others over the years.
We also accept others and get empowered to practice Empathy.
To be continued……
In the final part, we shall discuss how to stay on course.