#comics, #feels

Finding Self-Respect (Part 1)

An illustrated essay of self discovery

Finding Self-Respect Page 1 Finding Self-Respect Page 2


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Yasmine Pirouz

Yasmine Pirouz is a food-munching, cartoon-adoring freelance illustrator with a passion for speaking through comics. When she isn't part-time teaching art, she's creating TORUS LINK @ http://toruslink.com--- the webcomic that is her baby. If you agree that it takes two sides both to tell a story AND save the universe, then she happily recommends you give it a read.

© 2014 - 2017 Yasmine Pirouz and POMEgranate Magazine


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  • John C. Hall

    Great start. Anticipating Part 2

    • Hi John, I want to know more about your viewpoint! (If you don’t mind elaborating.) How do you see the lack of self-respect gave us the 2016 results?

      • John C. Hall

        Responding to your question, “How did a lack of self-respect give us the 2016 election results?”A couple of things have always resonated for me about “self”-respect.

        I don’t think we can talk about self-respect without talking about self-image. You, I, no one has an image of one’s self but that it is defined by how other people see us. Huge revelation for me when I first began to study psychology. This is not just my personal opinion. It is basic clinical psychology 101. ‘What a handsome young boy, here’s a gun to play with and stay away from sister’s dollies”. Or “what a pretty, little girl you are. Here’s an easy bake-oven, and a dolly that wets itself, and stay away from brother’s erector set”. Well, a certain amount of that is inevitable and even healthy as we struggle for that first self-definition based upon the sex of the male or female parent of our own sex. Some small part of it may even be hard-wired. (It’s going to be interesting to see where children lead society who are raised in households with same sexed parents. But that’s a digression from the point.) Self-image in its earliest form, must be other defined. Be that as it may, some people are always going to try to define you or imply that you can be nothing more than what they can expect. The sub-text for this assessment is, ‘I know you better than you know yourself and I have determined that you are not worthy of respect, not even your own’. These people are not your friends. Or if you think they are or must be your friends, some serious behavior modification is appropriate. Say what you will about behavior modification and reward systems, there are really only two ways to change someone’s (adults’) behavior.

        First YOU have to model appropriate behavior. Don’t be that person who makes sweeping and pejorative assessments of other people and especially yourself. You may say something like, “You know, you may think it is ok to define me as a person who has no respect for myself, but, the ONLY person who HAS the legitimate right to even say that, is me. I have a job, I volunteer, and I try to add something to this community by my actions. I would never have the timerity to make that kind of sweeping assessment of you.” Above all criticize their behavior not them as a person or you have fallen into that same illegitimate status.

        Second, and this is the hard one. We must assume that our physical presence is reinforcing to those of us who are our friends. Denying your physical presence is the ultimate non-reinforcer of attacks on your character. Sounds deceptively axiomatic and simple but it is a powerful truth. You deny whatever emotional agenda someone may have for disrespecting you by your absence.

        You can lose yourself in the literature of the definition of depression, root causes, chemical basis’, etc…One thing has always stood out for me personally as I struggle with depression and that is, “Depression is a lie that you tell about yourself”. I.e., ‘I WILL never amount to anything, I WILL never make the right choices in my life, I HAVE no self-respect.’ Ultimately, I am NOT worthy of even respecting my self because so many (other) people have told me so. (“You have no self-respect”). You see how this spiraling philosophy becomes an inescapably self-fulfilling prophesy? Eventually the dissonance of any other image of yourself becomes unbearable because it (a lack of self-respect) is now part of your ‘belief’ system. Telling yourself you have no self-respect is a slippery slope toward ‘I am not worthy of self-respect.’ And that is a lie.

        So what? How could anything evolving on such a ‘micro’ level of personality evolve to such a ‘macro’ level of affecting an entire Presidential election. Well, for one thing, the flip side of the coin that is depression is rage. I don’t think you have to look too far to see that in the town-hall meetings, FOX news’ pandering to the fundamental, extreme right wing, disenfranchised who think they are watching the news (when in fact by FOX’s own admission it is ‘entertainment’ and therefore not necessarily factual.) Identify a candidate who is the personification of that rage, who cares not for the rights of the disabled, cares not for a woman’s right to the privacy of her own physical space, cares not for an immigrant’s right to petition to become a member of this country, cares not for LGBT civil rights, and who does not believe building on past social accomplishments–and you have the definition a demagogue. Make that candidate something 95% of the people of this country will forever be excluded from being, that being inconceivably wealthy, and the absence of respect of others by that candidate is legitimated by its associated monetary reward.

        How does all of this get translated to a world view, a phenomenology of self-respect?
        First YOU have to model appropriate behavior. NOT in an attempt to change someone else’s opinion but just BECAUSE you must internalize your own self-worth. I’m am personally volunteering at Dell Children’s Hospital in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I don’t require some else’s validation of my self-worth because I see it in the eyes of infants I hold, the parents I console, their nurses.

        Do one thing today that validates your respect of self. Open a car door for someone struggling. Express your appreciation for a job well done by a co-worker. One of my favorite religious axioms, ‘Act as if you shall have faith and faith shall you be given’. Substitute self-respect for faith. And the behavioral psychology of this is solid. If you act in a way that is counter to a belief you have, that belief will be altered. I cannot emphasize that enough, It’s what the cognitive psychologists call ‘cognitive dissonance’ and basically boils down to a need to resolve the conflict between two conflicting beliefs. In this case, ‘how can I believe I have no self-respect and yet do something so positively counterintuitive to that belief.”(Amy Cuddy’s TED talk ‘Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are ranks as the #1 TED talk of all time for a reason)

        Second, deny your physical presence to attacks on your character by media. From the time I was 15 I watched the evening network news. Until the execution in November. Through high-school, college when I had time for exactly one television program per day, through graduate school and up until I retired. Staying current with events was RELIGION. My day was anchored and punctuated by the evening news. Since the election I simply can not tolerate the daily assault on MY self-respect that being a citizen of this country means you have to endure. So I don’t watch the news. I watch no network news of any kind. Will this change anything. Of course not. Will keep me from a daily assault on my self-respect. Most definitely.

        Tieing the political diatribe up. How did a lack of self-respect affect the election? If citizens feel they are defined as disenfranchised by poverty, by a lack of access to education, by a society that does not respect them — then those individuals will seek a champion who acknowledges their perceived worthlessness by himself tearing down those institutions, that support structure, those values the individuals deem out of reach. And if the “champion” is rich and has had everything handed to him the citizens will never have, they are guaranteed a validation of their own world view.

      • John C. Hall

        Hope you don’t mind my meandering comment on your article. Oh, and slight typo (Freudian Slip?). Commenting about the November election. Either spell-correct or momentary ‘truthyness”, election got translated into ‘execution’. So sorry for the slip.

        • It is absolutely fine by me!!No worries. And I laughed at “execution”, to be honest. Freudian slip or not, it seems apt in my opinion. XD

  • John C. Hall

    Wow. Heartbreakingly honest, powerful, perceptive, courageous. Your art drives it all home.
    Having been the beneficiary of therapy many times in the past, I truly hope that you are benefiting from an examination of these issues with a competent therapist. Someone outside the loop of your usual friendships who will tell you the truth and challenge you. Because of my training I’ve always felt that it is a luxury to indulge myself in therapy.
    Regardless, here’s two people you might like to read: Fritz Perls and Victor Frankl
    Gestalt Therapy Verbatim and Man’s Search for Meaning

    I do my thing and you do your thing.

    I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
    and you are not in this world to live up to mine.
    You are you, and I am I,
    and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.
    If not, it can’t be helped.

    (Fritz Perls, Gestalt Therapy Verbatim, 1969)

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