Defining Dignity

As we continue along our combined journey of Becoming Today we are focusing on three elements that all people desire and deserve. In case you missed it yesterday, we discussed  the first step in my acronym of C.D.R. which stands for:




All are elements of common need and desire. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, nor what you have been – are – or will be going through; each and everyone of us truly desires to be treated with Compassion, Dignity and Respect. Plus beyond yearning for, we should feel inherently deserving  of them. 

The trouble for some is that in order to receive these basic harmonious elements of life, we must also be giving of them freely not only to others but also be treating ourselves with each.

Unlocking compassion  for others begins with taking care of yourself. Which we’ll expand upon as we then continue with the second element of Dignity.

Reiterating  compassion involves having, experiencing and sharing a genuine sympathy for the hardships, troubles or circumstances of another. One of the primary things to remember about sharing compassion is that it comes from your heart. It must be sincere, honest and open. Look beyond your differences and be  accepting of others and they in turn may very well choose to do the same for you. 

Don’t forget that being compassionate begins with you being so, towards yourself. Praise yourself for your successes and forgive yourself for your mistakes. Focus on your more Becoming qualities rather than areas where you know you have challenges. 

To begin this process, accept personal responsibility. Embrace the ability to unconditionally love all aspects of who we are. Both the positive and negative. It all starts with the proper attitude. In order to fully accept your reality, you must take ownership of any role you may have played, good or bad, in leading you to where you are.  

In order to accept responsibility for our actions we must first be taking care of ourselves.

So then, What is Self-Care?

On the simplest level it is taking care of yourself. We know we are unable to care for, assist or be of service to others if at first we are not addressing our own needs and healing. It’s an old story about the flight attendant’s speech. What is the first thing you are supposed to do if the oxygen masks drop on a plane? Put yours on first then you can come to the aid of others.

Self-Care is also being good to yourself. Treating yourself like you would others. It involves self acceptance, gentle self talk, self compassion, having empathy for yourself and seeing that your basic human needs are being me.

If you are not feeling that you are receiving C.D.R. the first thing to check is are you giving them freely to yourself? If you’re not respecting yourself, not allowing yourself to live a dignified  life or not accepting your own ups and down with compassion, why would anyone else be? 

What Self-Care Is Not

Self Care is not a rationalization to become self indulgent. It is not an excuse to self medicate or escape from reality and most important Self-Care is NOT being selfish.

Selfishness is having an attitude of  “me, me, me”; “I, I, I”.  The selfish person consistently only thinks of their own needs and desires without consideration of others or their needs.

Self-Care allows for you to be able to have the strength dn tools necessary to be more open, to be more empathetic, to be of more service and accepting of others.

This was an area I struggled with for years. Since my innate nature is to be a nurturer and caretaker, I always felt if I put myself first or said “no” to someone’s request then I was being selfish. I could not have been more wrong. 

As a result those false beliefs took their toll on both my physical and mental health, nonetheless I have recovered and am living my life as  testament that it can be overcome and we can  all always be “Becoming”. 

Selfishness breaks down, it defeats. Self-Care builds up and empowers strength and victory.

Self-Care allows you to set boundaries to maintain your personal power and sense of identity. Plus it affords you the opportunity to live and share dignity.

Time now to develop our shared understanding of defining dignity, When you have chosen to live with dignity, it means you are worthy of respect. That you have achieved a state of attitude, acceptance and caring that fosters a vision of you being worthy of being held in esteem, regarded as trustworthy and dare I say “Becoming”. 

In addition to practicing self-care, Dignity requires us to be self-confident, value our self-worth, foster our self-esteem and always be loving towards ourselves.

There’s no skipping steps here. All these personal qualities work together, and we need all these tools to empower ourselves from within. When we have allowed and accepted these strengths to be firmly established then we can work towards assisting others to do the same. 

So in finding the true meaning of having a sense of dignity, we must comprehend that it starts with the qualities, values and beliefs which we hold and choose to share. Building a healthy sense of dignity is developed over time and requires patience. It is something that is easier said than done, though is quite achievable. 

Then how do you know if you’re living with dignity? First realize it is an ongoing process, changing, developing, growing (or declining) throughout our lives. It must be nourished. You must consciously seek to renew it regularly. 

Dignity is loving and appreciating yourself just as much as you are willing to love others. The truth is that it looks different in each of us. True dignity is a solid foundation you can rely upon everyday. It also cannot be taken away from you no matter the circumstances, challenges or obstacles you may encounter. 

I can hear some of you saying that having dignity is a lot like self respect. It is in part though there are some differences. As Respect is the third element, the “R” in our C.D.R., we;’ll delve into that tomorrow, but briefly let’s touch upon the differences.

Dignity and Respect are two words that often go together. The notable distinction is when we refer to them as being given to or shared with others. Dignity refers to the state of being worthy and honorable. Respect in part is defined as having an admiration for someone because of their qualities or achievements.

Now let’s look at how we can share dignity with others. Recognizing it within them and / or helping empower them to achieve it. Perhaps an explanation of the difference is that personifying dignity for yourself means boldly communicating and expressing  that you will ensure your needs are met without being aggressive or prideful. aggression. 

While showing dignity for another, can be accomplished by being kind, compassionate and treating them consistent with a manner in which they desire  to be treated. Assuming they are in a motional state of Becoming, seeking growth, development and not trapped in a negative lifestyle or clinging to false beliefs of unworthiness.  

If you view yourself as an essentially good person, others may also recognize your virtues and have respect for you. If you see yourself as healthy, balanced and competent, you will be perceived as having dignity.

Accepting, recognizing and sharing dignity is saying and believing that  they are worthy of respect regardless of age, status, ability, gender, race, and religious beliefs. When we treat others with dignity, we make both their and our lives better, fostering growth for both as individuals.From there we can start to build more confidence in our abilities to help advance society.

Here are six steps towards fostering dignity:

  1. Listen to others empathetically.
  2. Speak with them, not at them and do so with kindness.
  3. Seek the opinions of others  and share yours in growth-orientated ways.
  4. Stand up for yourself without infringing upon the rights of others.
  5. Show respect and appreciation for others as you would like to have for yourself.
  6. Protect their dignity and privacy.

Another way of explaining this is to be honorable and honor those you encounter. To honor someone is to treat them with respect or high esteem and doing what is morally right.

To treat someone with dignity is to treat them in a way that is being  respectful of them and accepting them as valued individuals. 

You must also take into consideration cultural and personal backgrounds. Acknowledging any differences, sharing any questions while respecting no two people truly have identical ideologies.

Courtesy, kind and interconnectedness matter. They help to combine dignity with compassion creating respect. And that’s where we’ll begin tomorrow, here on Becoming Today.


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