Step 1: Look into a mirror, make eye connection with yourself, and say "I love me" as many times as possible during your day. I love me: These three magic words help you maintain your self-respect. Now, be aware that saying these words maybe difficult at first because of the conditions you've been exposed to over a lifetime and because the words may bring to the surface remnants of disrespect that your ego wants you to hold on to.
Your immediate impulse might be to see this as an expression of your ego's desire to be superior to everyone else. But this is not an ego statement at all - it's an affirmation of self-respect. Transcend that ego mind and affirm your love for yourself and your connection to the spirit of God. This doesn't make you superior to anyone; it makes you equal to all and celebrates that you're in a piece of God. Affirm it for your own self-respect. Affirm it in order to be respectful of that which intended you here. Affirm it because it's the way you'll stay connected to your Source and regain the power of intention. I love me. Say it without embarrassment. Say it proudly and be that image of love and self-respect.
Step 2: Write the following affirmation and repeat it over and over again to yourself: I am whole and perfect as I was created! Carry this thought with you wherever you go. Have it laminated and place it in your pocket, on your dashboard, on your refrigerator or next to your bed - allow the words to become a source of high energy and self-respect. By simply carrying these words with you and being in the same space with them, their energy will flow directly to you.
Self-respect emerges from the fact that you respect the Source from which you came and you've made a decision to reconnect to that Source, regardless of what anyone else might think. It's very important to keep reminding yourself at the beginning that you're worthy of infinite respect from the one Source you can always count on, the piece of God energy that defines you. This reminder will do wonders for your self-respect, and consequently your ability to use the power of intention in your life. Over and over, remind yourself: I'm not my body. I'm not my accumulations. I'm not my achievements. I'm not my reputation. I am whole and perfect as I was created!
Step 3: Extend more respect to others and to all of life. Perhaps the greatest secret of self-esteem is to appreciate other people more. The easiest way to do this is to see the unfolding of God in them. Look past the judgments of others' appearance, failures and successes, their status in society, their wealth or lack of it - and extend appreciation and love to the Source from which they came. Everyone is a child of God - everyone! Try to see this even in those who behave in what appears to be a godless fashion. Know that by extending love and respect, you can turn that energy around so that it's heading back to its Source rather than away from it. In short, send out respect because that is what you have to give away. Send out judgment and low energy and that is what you'll attract back. Remember, when you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself as someone who needs to judge. The same applies to judgments directed at you.
Step 4: Affirm to yourself and all others that you meet, I belong! A sense of belonging is one of the highest attributes on Abraham Maslow's pyramid of self-actualization (see February 2007 issue of phenomeNEWS). Feeling that you don't belong or you're in the wrong place can be due to a lack of self-respect. Respect yourself and your divinity by knowing that everyone belongs. This should never come into question. Your presence here in the universe is proof alone that you belong here. No person decides if you belong here. No government determines if some belong and some don't. This is an intelligent system that you're a part of. The wisdom of Creation intended you to be here, in this place, in this family with these siblings and parents, occupying this precious space. Say it to yourself and affirm it whenever necessary: I belong! And so does everyone else. No one is here by accident!
Step 5: Remind yourself that you're never alone. My self-respect stays intact as long as I know that it's impossible for me to be alone. I have a "senior partner" who's never abandoned me and who's stuck with me even in moments when I had seemingly deserted my Source. I feel that if the universal mind has enough respect to allow me to come here and to work through me - and to protect me in times when I strayed onto dangerous nonspiritual turf - then this partnership deserves my reciprocal respect. I recall my friend Pat McMahon, a talk-show host on KTAR radio in Phoenix, Arizona, telling me about his encounter with Mother Teresa in his studio before interviewing her for his program. He pleaded with her to allow him to do something for her. "Anything at all," he begged. "I'd just like to help you in some way." She looked at him and said, "Tomorrow morning get up at 4:00 A.M. and go out onto the streets of Phoenix. Find someone who lives there and believes that he's alone and convince him that he's not." Great advice, because everyone who wallows in self-doubt or appears to be lost has lost their self-respect because they've forgotten that they're not alone.
Step 6: Respect your body! You've been provided with a perfect body to house your inner invisible being for a few brief moments in eternity. Regardless of its size, shape, color or any imagined infirmities, it's a perfect creation for the purpose that you were intended here for. You don't need to work at getting healthy; health is something you already have if you don't disturb it. You may have disturbed your healthy body by overfeeding it, under exercising it and over stimulating it with toxins or drugs that make it sick, fatigued, jumpy, anxious, depressed, bloated, ornery or an endless list of maladies. You can begin the fulfillment of this intention to live a life of self-respect by honoring the temple that houses you. You know what to do. You don't need another diet, workout manual or personal trainer. Go within, listen to your body and treat it with all of the dignity and love that your self-respect demands.
Step 7: Meditate to stay in conscious contact with your Source, which always respects you. I can't say this enough: meditation is a way to experience what the five senses can't detect. When you're connected to the field of intention, you're connected to the wisdom that's within you. That divine wisdom has great respect for you and it cherishes you while you're here. Meditation is a way to ensure that you stay in a state of self-respect. Regardless of all that goes on around you, when you enter into that sacred space of meditation, all doubts about your value as an esteemed creation dissolve. You'll emerge from the solemnity of meditation feeling connected to your Source and enjoying respect for all beings, particularly yourself.
Step 8: Make amends with adversaries. The act of making amends sends out a signal of respect for your adversaries. By radiating this forgiving energy outward, you'll find this same kind of respectful positive energy flowing back toward you. By being big enough to make amends and replace the energy of anger, bitterness and tension with kindness - even if you still insist that you're right - you'll respect yourself much more than prior to your act of forgiveness. If you're filled with rage toward anyone, there's a huge part of you that resents the presence of this debilitating energy. Take a moment right here and now to simply face that person who stands out in your mind as someone you hurt, or directed hurt to you, and tell him or her that you'd like to make amends. You'll notice how much better you feel. That good feeling of having cleared the air is self-respect. It takes much more courage, strength of character and inner conviction to make amends than it does to hang on to the low-energy feelings.
Step 9: Always remember the self in self-respect. In order to do this, you must recognize that the opinions of others toward you aren't facts, they're opinions. When I speak to an audience of 500 people, there are 500 opinions of me in the room at the end of the evening. I'm none of those opinions. I can't be responsible for how they view me. The only thing I can be responsible for is my own character, and this is true for every one of us. If I respect myself, then I'm relying on the self in self-respect. If I doubt myself, or punish myself, I've not only lost my self-respect, I'll continue to attract more and more doubt and lower-energy opinions with which to further punish myself. You can't stay linked to the universal mind, which intends all of us here, if you fail to rely on your self for your self-respect.
Step 10: Be in a state of gratitude. You'll discover that gratitude is the final step in each succeeding chapter. Be an appreciator rather than a depreciator of everything that shows up in your life. When you're saying, Thank you, God, for everything, and when you're expressing gratitude for your life and all that you see and experience, you're respecting Creation. This respect is within you, and you can only give away what you have inside. Being in a state of gratitude is the exact same thing as being in a state of respect - respect for yourself, which you give away freely and which will return to you tenfold. I close with the words of Jesus of Nazareth, speaking through his apostle Saint Matthew (Matthew 5:48): "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Reconnect to the perfection from which you originated. You can't have any more self-respect than that!