Learning to Respect Oneself

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”Self-Respect – Isn’t it Arrogant?”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

I am a 55-year-old male and a recovering alcoholic for a while now. I hear all the time that I must learn self-respect so I don’t use booze to help me feel good. Isn’t it arrogant to respect me? Isn’t the right way to be respectful to other people?


A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Recovering:

People who have no self-respect are not likely to experience self-pride and self-love. They will probably go through life feeling like a T-shirt with the footprints on it — people tend to walk all over them. Without self-respect it is difficult to respect others. Instead we are more likely to fear others. It is also difficult to achieve anything of importance without self-respect, self-worth and self-love, because these three components of the personality support the aggressive aspect of one’s nature to achieve things. Procrastinators also tend to suffer from lack of self-respect.

If I were you I’d be very proud of myself and my achievements. As the saying goes, “Let no man put you down.” And then of course, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words shall never harm me.”

”Unique – Why Can’t I be me?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

I’m a graduate student and some of my courses require me to be extroverted. It’s hard for me to express something in front of a group of my classmates and the Prof. I don’t have a problem being creative, but why do I get so worried about whether the group that’s watching me is disapproving of me.


A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Approval-Seeker:

So many people struggle with the issues you describe, and “Me” is probably lost in all that fear, guilt, shame and inhibition that they are wallowing in. One of the most destructive fears is that of what others will think of us — the fear, for example, that others may judge or criticize us. I believe that it is possible to get a good light burning and walk into this darkness and find “me,” who is probably a scared little child. But with the adult’s strong light it is possible to find the child in the dark, and the moment the adult shines the light in the child’s face, this little person is likely to discover self-love, self-pride and self-respect, and can walk out of the dark with the adult, never again to be afraid of others and what they may think. This child can learn to turn ignorance into knowledge, to be curious about things and to challenge difficult tasks. And as the song says, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. … This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. …”

Answers to questions in today’s column can be supplemented with excerpts from “Yesterday’s Children” (Q1-2: p. 12) written by psychologists Marti Barham, R.N., Ph.D. and Tom Greene, Ph.D. For more information visit my Web site at https://www.DrGelbSays.com

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

”’Email your questions to mailto:DrGelbSays@hawaiireporter.com More information on Dr. Gelb’s services and related resources available at”’ https://www.DrGelbSays.com