Those who don’t respect themselves are most agitated when others don’t respect them

When others disrespect us, we naturally feel hurt. But some people go beyond feeling hurt to wanting to hurt others, and hurt them far more than the hurt they have been subjected to. 

Why these different reactions to the same action? Because of our varying self-conceptions. How we regard ourselves shapes how we regard others’ actions toward us.

Disproportionate reactions to disrespect stem from deep-rooted inner insecurity. If someone pushed us while they walked by us, we would be annoyed. But if we felt those passing by weren’t just pushing us but were knocking down the very house in which we were living, we would be beyond annoyed; we would be threatened and angered. And we may react far more aggressively. That’s how those who are insecure feel when they are disrespected. The whole house of their self-conception is founded on how others respect them; they have no intrinsic self-respect. 

Their inner insecurity often comes from materialism, which reduces us to a mere bag of biochemicals buzzing about temporarily. Materialism makes our self-worth dependent on our social worth. No wonder the Bhagavad-gita (16.04) declares that ungodly materialists are characterized by haughtiness and harshness – they demand respect and destroy verbally those who don’t offer them respect.

To counter such inner insecurity, we need a more spiritual self-conception. Gita wisdom reveals that we are indestructible spiritual beings who are parts of the divine. We have intrinsic self-worth because we are loved by God, irrespective of how society views us. We can make a difference, small but significant, for our future and the world’s future, even if the world doesn’t value us. When we increase our self-respect, not in an egoistic sense, but in a spiritual sense by elevating our self-conception, we find disrespect less disturbing.

If we seek intrinsic self-worth, Gita wisdom stands ready to spiritualize our self-conception. 

Think it over:

  • How do you react when disrespected?
  • How does materialism deplete our sense of self-worth?
  • How does Gita wisdom infuse us with intrinsic self-worth?

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