The Feng Shui of Self-Respect

feng shuiAs a college student, I had a summer job as a waitress at a popular lakeside resort. It was glamorous from a guest perspective – with beautifully appointed rooms, dining areas and recreational activities for guests.

From a worker’s perspective, it was not so glamorous. On my first day, the chef shook my hand after he’d dipped his own in grease. Thankfully I’d been warned about his pranks by a former staffer, so I said, “You and I are going to be great friends,” smiled at him, and moved on. He did leave me alone for several weeks. Eventually, he treated me with respect.

Then there was the issue of the workers’ living areas. The guest cabins were near the lake; ours were over the septic field. The toilet in the bathroom I shared with three other waitresses was falling through the disintegrating floor. It was barely held up by a few wood planks.

It wasn’t pretty. It was depressing staying in such a rundown place, but I was determined to make the best of it.

At first, I focused on myself. I decorated my room as best I could. I turned a wooden ladder into a display case for my favorite sweater and some of my favorite books. I used my favorite body lotion to have a sense – and scents – of something better.

Then I started to see the beauty in the bigger environment around me – available to guests and workers alike. My friends on the staff and at the local cottages would head out to the lake for weekend parties. I was amazed by the night sky on the way to the islands. I’d never seen so many stars in the city. Suddenly, I felt rich.

Our outer environment can really influence how we feel about ourselves. On the other hand, we can feel better about ourselves if we create a pleasant environment. Our ability to be flexible and resilient, even when we’re not in the best spot, says a lot about our sense of self-respect.

You can create your own sanctuary – a place to safely hold your ideas, your dreams, and everything that matters to you. That sanctuary can fit in something as small as your school locker, or on your dresser at home. Fill it with symbols of what you value – photos of your friends and family, your pets, art that you’ve done or that you admire, places you’d like to travel, things you’d like to learn more about.

Engage all your senses. Inspire your sense of sound with music, with its power to change your environment and lift your spirits. Try aromatherapy with candles – even unlit, they create a wonderful smell. Add something gentle to the touch, a smooth pebble or a fuzzy pillow.

Learn from the ideas of Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese practice of arranging furniture and objects in a space harmoniously to improve the flow of energy. Many of the basic rules of feng shui apply to a sense of self-esteem and self-respect. Here are some tips from the website The Tao of Dana: Everyday Feng Shui to Design Your Dreamlife:

  • Fix things that are broken. It’s the start of fixing other problems in your life, and shows you care for things, including yourself.
  • Get rid of things that make you feel badly about yourself. You shouldn’t feel stuck with anything, even if it’s a sentimental gift. Get unstuck.
  • Set up a showcase of your passions and accomplishments – honoring whatever you love, whether it’s sports, art, computers, or pets.
  • Keep things clean and tidy. When things are messy and dirty, it’s often a sign we’re overwhelmed and feeling helpless. When we tidy up, we feel empowered. Clear space = clear mind.

Beyond your home environment, take time to see the beauty in the world around you. Take pictures of things that delight and touch you as reminder that they’re out there. Know that you’re part of the beauty in the world. Honor yourself and enjoy the beauty around you.

Learn More:

D. Claudat, Six Ways Your Home Can Boost Your Self-Esteem, July 24, 2013,

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