I've been reading the blog of a dear friend who suggests that sometimes you need anger to re-affirm your self-respect. This idea makes me a little sad, because I think it has something to do with the sickness in our construction of masculinity. . . but I don't think he's wrong.
Thinking about it, I realized that I haven't had a lot of trouble respecting myself in my life, though I have had a lot of trouble liking myself, and often assume everybody else will too. I used to sacrifice a lot of things for my self respect. I believed adult human-beings (including myself) were basically undeserving, and I did my utmost to behave accordingly. Now that I'm some months in to my self indulgent/taking-care-of-myself phase, I've been giving some thought to what self-respect is going to look like for me, in the future.
I still believe that self-respect is basically about integrity*--about living in accordance to that which you most deeply believe, and not being ashamed of it. And I still believe that others will inevitably respond to self-respect by returning it. It can be terrifying to believe in the value of every human life. It's an enormous demand, because so many of us are treated so poorly, so much of the time. . . but an interesting challenge to contemplate.
*a word that gives me the creeps a bit, I think because I saw it misused so much for religious propaganda in young women's. Pooh.