Updated: Feb 3
Have you heard the phrase, “Empowered women empower women?” Do you accept that which makes you feel empowered, and have the confidence within you to care for yourself as much as you care for others?
Working together to create a more respectful environment begins within our own hearts, and an honest look at the respect we have for ourselves. Do we truly respect ourselves? Are we being our most authentic selves with others, and doing our best, if we don’t fully appreciate our own potential and innate gifts?
For years this was something I struggled with, and I know it’s an Achilles Heel for many. Finding and embracing self-worth is not necessarily easy for everyone. It may be something we are hiding, presenting a polished face to the outside world while facing this internal struggle.
Respect starts with being kind to ourselves, and then sharing that with others. So simple, yet convoluted for many.
Self-care is an avenue to self-respect, and a popular concept these days. For a time, I associated this movement with indulgence, like pedicures and pumpkin spice lattes. But in reality, it’s more like the need to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before assisting others. If you are struggling for breath, you can’t do much of anything to help those around you.
Self-care is striving to be healthy - mind, body and spirit - and accepting that you deserve it. If you know you are worth it, that you deserve to be healthy and happy, then that will radiate outward and you can be your best self for those who need it.
From a modern woman’s standpoint, I think we can put our personal wellbeing on the backburner in the pursuit of the elusive (more like non-existent) balance of career, family and personal goals. I know that as a busy mom, taking time for self-care and improvement takes intention. A LOT of it.
It also needs a healthy dose of personal grace – the release of guilt, worry and anxiety – and the courage to be proud and confident of your pursuits. Some days it is easier said than done, I’ll admit, but I’ve been doing the work in the trenches to be my best self for my family and my future, and I’m here to tell you it’s worth it. You got this. Your dreams matter. You are good enough.
At the same time, if you can see that you have greater potential within you, and you want to make changes to get you there, that responsibility is yours. YOU can absolutely change that. It’s 100% within your power. All it takes is self-awareness and a willingness to learn.
What respecting yourself looks like:
* Take caring for your health seriously
* Set and adhere to healthy boundaries, both with yourself and others
* Say no to what you don’t want
* Believe you deserve to be happy
* Put in the hard work to meet your greatest potential
* Eat your vegetables, and by that I mean consume that which will nourish and enrich you, including what kind of content you expose yourself to
* Be disciplined enough to get adequate sleep
Which brings me to… exercise. Love it, hate it, need it? Honestly, I feel exercise is one of the highest forms of self-care. What’s your catalyst to get it done? I love how it makes me feel, but it’s the hardest thing to start, even after I’ve been in a regular regime for long periods of time. Every day is a conscious choice to get moving, for my health and well-being.
Struggling with chronic neck pain from degenerative disk disease and lower back pain from childbearing, there have been times I’ve felt like a painful, creaky old lady in the body of a 43-year-old, and I just can’t accept that. So, I exercise to reduce and eliminate pain, and to feel my best mentally and physically. It is one of the most direct avenues to being my best, respectful self to others. I encourage you to move every day, in a way that benefits you and will help you achieve your wellbeing goals.
We are never too old to change the way we see ourselves, step outside the box and push ourselves to greater heights. Be good to yourself to create the best foundation to be good to others. If you don’t like something about yourself or your life, change it. Stop waiting for permission from an outside source. Make you, make your life what you want it to be. It may need to start with discovering a greater respect for yourself.
Put one foot in front of the other. Yes, it is a challenge every day. But YOU matter. Your dreams, your needs, your desires matter. How you care for yourself and invest in yourself matters. Empower yourself with love and compassion, then go give that to the world.
Darcy Castro is the 2019 Elite National American Woman of Service, representing a national pageant focused on community service and empowering women. Cultivating Respect with Darcy Castro is a year-long project to promote the program’s Crown CARES platform (Creating a Respectful Environment in Society). Follow the Cultivating Respect articles and podcast at DarcyCastro.com, and learn more at AmericanWomenOfService.com.