According to some new social research, self-respect has grown in importance as a key social value for Americans.  Most people feel good about themselves if they believe they deserve their own respect, which at first glance sounds like it might be a good thing.

But the positive nature of this finding is balanced by another potentially troubling factor.  As self-respect has increased in importance, a sense of belonging has decreased dramatically.  Many Americans see no reason to join anything which is leading to a more atomized society.  People are increasingly defining themselves by their own self-appraisal and less influenced by group identity.  Peer pressure is dying but isolation is increasing.

A well-differentiated person is able to be both separate and connected, and willing to derive self-esteem from both his individuality and capacity for belonging.  So, while you are self-actualizing it might also be a good idea to join something worthwhile and discover that joining and contributing is frequently the impetus to finding better self-respect.


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