Healthy Self Respect

I have a wonderful checklist I got from my therapist on “Maintaining Personal Boundaries in Relationships” by David Richo. He has a free E-book which you can access here. It’s very worthwhile reading if you are on a healing path. I found this wonderful piece of writing by him on the building blocks of healthy self-respect. They are our potentials for goodness, our human virtues.

A suggestion he makes is to ask yourself how closely you approximate each of them on a scale of one to ten. Make an enlarged copy of this list and hang it where you will see it often. Show it to your partner, your best friend, and one family member and tell them you welcome their feedback about your progress. This addresses the authentic humility dimension of the healthy ego. Re-rate yourself in six months to see a change for the better.

I am sincerely looking for my own truth and design my life accordingly.

I am happy when I appear as I am without pretense and no matter how unflattering.

I notice times when I am not in touch with my adult powers. I do not feel ashamed of myself nor do I blame others. I simply acknowledge my inadequacy, ask for help, or try something new.

I occasionally resist the challenges on my path. I accept this as part of the journey. I make room for occasional mistakes and procrastination.

I am not perfect but I am committed to working on myself. I welcome feedback that shows me where I am less loving than I can be, where I am less tolerant, where less open. I make a plan to change for the better in accord with what I learn.

Rather than pass through important experiences of life unconsciously, I choose to pause long enough to address and process what is happening. This often leads to resolving and personally evolving. I am noticing that the more conscious I am about my personal work the more do I care about the world and the part I can play in its co-creation.

I ask for what I want without demand or expectation, take responsibility for my feelings and behavior, have personal boundaries, and at the same time I act gently toward others.

I have standards of rigorous honesty in all my dealings and I live in accord with them. If I fall down in this, I admit it and make amends. I easily and willingly apologize when necessary.

I act toward others not as they act toward me but in accord with personal standards of fairness. I am committed to resisting evil and fighting injustice in non-violent ways. In this way, I focus on restorative justice not retributive justice.

I do not knowingly hurt others. If they hurt me, I do not retaliate only open a dialogue and ask for amends.

I am less and less competitive in relationships and find an abiding joy in cooperation.

I look at other people and their choices without censure.

I am able to say “Ouch!” to inappropriate pain in jobs, relationships, and interactions with others. I take action to change what can be changed and to move on when things remain abusive. I do this without self-pity or the need to make others wrong.

I confront the inherited or habitual governing principles of my psyche rather than placate them. For instance, if I operate on a scarcity model—being ungenerous because I fear there will not be enough for me—I admit it and act as if I believed in abundance.

I keep my commitments and finish the tasks I agree to do. More and more I can tell what my limits and skills are. This helps me set sane yet generous boundaries on how much I offer to do for others.

I have reason to be proud of some accomplishments. Thoreau wrote in his journal: “A man looks with pride at his woodpile.” (Our serious commitment to the practices on these pages is our “woodpile.”)

I ask this question as I enter any relationship or task: Is this a context in which I can fulfill my life purpose?

I am responding to an inner call to me to find and live out my vocation and my personal potential. I make the choices in life that make room for new possibilities.

I am engaged enthusiastically in something meaningful and this is the source of my bliss.

I am always aware of the pain and poverty of those less fortunate than myself. I find ways to respond that combine generosity and personal contact. I can see goodness and something touching in any person.

Confronted with the suffering in the world, I do not blame God or man but simply ask: “What then shall I do?” I respond to pain in others with a plan to help, even if it has to be minimal. Meeting needs with resources is lighting one candle rather than cursing the darkness. T.S. Eliot said: “I sat upon the shore with the arid plain behind me. Shall I at least set my lands in order?”

I have an unwavering sense of myself as a person of conviction while still being flexible. I am able to change my behavior, to drop outmoded beliefs, and to make alterations in my lifestyle that fit the ever-evolving demands of my world. I see an identity crisis as an opportunity for enlightenment!

My love of nature makes me tread gently on the earth with what St. Bonaventure called “a courtesy toward natural things.”

I live in accord with my deepest needs, wishes, values, and potentials while remaining attentive to the needs of others too.

I notice that I am no longer stopped or driven by fear or desire though I still feel them—and that is all right with me.

I learn from my own reactions: Tears at a movie invite me to look at my personal griefs. Attraction and repulsion invite me to look at my shadow. Memories and images that tug at me invite me to stay with them and to follow their lead into my own unopened spaces.

I have spiritual self-respect as I honor the divine life within me that activates any love, wisdom, or healing power I may show. I say thanks for these graces and yes to these challenges.

“To be human is to be born into the world with something to achieve, namely, the fullness of one’s human nature, and it is through the virtues that one does so… The virtues are the only guarantee against a wasted life. “-Paul Wadell, C.P.

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