For the purposes of this post, I am only using a few of the possible meanings of the title word of this post. To see the entire definition of the word, please click below: Dictionary.com
Dignity is one of those things which many of use do not give a whole lot of thought to for at least part of our lives. Either we do not think about it, or we hadn’t been taught the value of it. The hope is that at some point that we figure out how valuable it is, and how to restore it. We’ve all done things in our lives which may not have been in line with a sense of dignity. However, all things have the potential to lead us there.
The reason for that last line is that it would be very easy to feel so ashamed of things in the past that it feels as though we are not worthy of self-respect or a sense of dignity. Trust me, I get that. I also know that it is never too late. When we start putting the pieces of ourselves back together, all things are possible.
Perhaps we were taught or told as children that we weren’t worth much and we went through our lives believing this to one extent or another. That one is a tough nut to crack, yet with time and repetition, we can turn the volume of those ancient voices down or even hit the mute button. Once we realize that those negative messages were less about us and more about the person who planted them, it becomes simpler to let it all fade into the background. While working through all of that, it is key that we do not allow that realization to turn into anger, because that is not productive. Not only that, but we can turn it around and use those experiences to learn how to do better by ourselves and perhaps help others to do the same.
Please try to remember that a desire to help others does not make their actions, or acceptance of the advice or example your responsibility. A few days ago, I read something to the effect of ‘caring is not the same as carrying’. I’m sure that it wasn’t worded exactly like that, and I do not remember where I read it, but the sentiment is one which automatically stuck with me.
Often, we can trace many of the things we’ve done of which we aren’t proud back to negative programming or events in our earlier years. This doesn’t give us a pass, but it does help us to understand the origins of our feelings and do something to avoid taking similar actions in the future. We should also be a little gentler on ourselves, or less harsh in our self judgements. Why? Because deeply holding onto guilt or shame over past actions or words does not propel us forward into reclaiming our dignity.
So how to we get to that place? Through a process of realizing the untruth in the old beliefs and messages which led to the loss or dimming of our dignity, and making a conscious decision to uncover who we really are. There may be things we’ve done for which there will always be a sense of shame. This doesn’t mean that there is no redemption, or that we are not worthy of having a better life. Even though we cannot undo or unsay things, we can absolutely give ourselves permission to rise above them from here on out.