No, you haven’t! It may be hidden from awareness or it may have been abused and insulted by others, but you still have it whether you recognize it or not. Here’s why:
All human beings possess certain immutable qualities or characteristics, including:
- Consciousness: awareness of self and the external world.
- Thinking: the capacity to process whatever is in awareness.
- Imagination: the ability to conceptualize time, space and that which does not exist.
- Introspection: the ability to examine conscious and subconscious thoughts.
- Handiness: dexterity in making and using tools.
- Reasoning: ability to use language, writing, numbers and mathematics.
- Emotions: the capacity to experience a wide range of feelings.
- Conscience: the ability to judge or evaluate our own behavior.
- Aesthetic sensibility: the capacity to appreciate grace and beauty.
- Curiosity: the will to discover and explore wherever we want to look.
- Higher order qualities: such as laughter, intuition, trust, remorse, gratitude, loyalty, hope, faith and many others.
- Time-binding: passing knowledge on to the next generation.
- Sacrificial: the ability to give of ourselves even to our own detriment.
- Fatality: knowing that death is inevitable.
Having these immutable qualities establishes that all humans possess human dignity.
Material possessions do not determine your identity, and growing older or being sick does not detract from your worthwhileness. Neither the love nor loss of another person adds to or detracts from your personhood. Believing in these qualities means that you will never again feel diminished by another person’s judgment or by any failure.
These qualities are not lost with age or infirmity. It is important to understand that nothing that you do, say, think, feel or sense can ever detract from your human dignity. It is a quality that comes with being born a human and is retained throughout life.
Although some of these qualities may be exhibited in nonhumans, they are not nearly so well developed or persistent as with us. It is the variety and magnitude of these qualities that contribute so much to our humanity.
It is a major contributor to your mental health when your basic beliefs are consistent with human dignity. On the other hand, your mental health is compromised when you see yourself only as a reflection of your accomplishments or your relationships. Your experiences may have taught you to have a low self-concept, but your innate worthwhileness has nothing to do with what you’ve done, good or bad, your station in life, how well or poorly you are regarded by others or by any other experience.
For example, if you have committed an act that harms another, you will, hopefully, regret that action and take any available step to remedy it. But even if you have hurt another person and whether or not you make amends, it does not affect who you are. Your human dignity has not been impaired.
You can always get in touch with your human dignity by examining, through introspection, any basic beliefs that are negative in respect to it and changing those that are detrimental. For instance, if you believe that you must have someone else to make you a worthwhile person, you are seeking external validation. Not necessary! As discussed above, worthwhileness is an intrinsic quality for every human.
Take a few minutes to carefully examine your own self-concept. Jot down any basic beliefs you hold that are negative with respect to it and begin working on making some basic belief changes. You’ll like the results!
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