If I do not honor myself how can I possibly honor anyone else? The vast majority of humans, regardless of race, color, or creed, were, as children, told and shown that they were not good enough. It was (is?) believed that they had to be taught to behave well and honor others, BUT they themselves were not so honored! After all, they were only children!
We are all teachers, as ACIM makes very clear, and we teach what we believe even if we are unaware of it. So, as children, many of us are dishonored, unacknowledged, discounted, and that is what we learnt and then teach, purely by how we conduct ourselves, how we live our lives for all to see.
Our upbringing makes us feel inadequate at best, and at worst worthless! Our “elders and betters” think this is good for us because it was how they were brought up – children need to be disciplined – and that it is the correct way, otherwise they will become uncontrollable! Then in our teens, sometimes much earlier, we rebel against this unfair and unjust treatment, and are again harshly judged by those “elders and betters!” And we do become uncontrollable.
So, as teenagers and young adults, as we throw off the shaming and blaming we experienced growing up, we construct fronts or masks – of confidence, strength, intellectual ability, whatever – behind which we hide in almost constant fear of being discovered, of being seen as who we truly are. But of course who we truly are – divine beings, the beloved children of God – has also been hidden.
I think to awaken is to become aware that who we are is all that we can ever be – we can’t be anyone else however much we may admire someone else, or the mask behind which that someone else is also hiding – and we need help from those a little further along the path of spiritual growth (we are all without exception, even if we don’t see or acknowledge it, on a spiritual path) to see the person that we truly are. Just who we are, is always perfectly OK – “I’m OK, You’re OK” – because we are far, far more than we can possibly imagine, in fact we are all perfect divine beings who have temporarily forgotten that truth.
Once a person realizes this and starts the essential process of total self-acceptance they do begin to honor themselves, and when that happens it becomes impossible not to honor all others, even though one may not like them or agree with them.
In other words, until we learn to honor ourselves we cannot honor others – although we can pretend to – and once we do start honoring ourselves we cannot not honor others.