Thoughts on “self-honor” and the “instinct of being a person-in-the-world”

In a previous article I spoke of what I called “self-honor” (see Thoughts on the “defeated people syndrome” – the effects of being defeated).  This is one of the terms I came up with “on the spur of the moment”.  Though I somewhat defined it in that article I never felt it was adequate.  This has caused me to think about it further . . .


In the simplest way I would call “self-honor” as the result of an instinctual need to participate in the world which, when done properly, creates a satisfaction or confidence in ones self.  It is more than something like “self-confidence” . . . it is deeper than that.  There are three important points to this definition:

  1. “Instinctual need”
  2. “Participation”
  3. “Properly” 
  4. “A satisfaction or confidence”    

1-“Instinctual Need”

This means that this impulse is “nature endowed” or something that has been instilled in us by nature.  This means a number of things:

  • It hits deep into our being
  • We have no real control over it
  • It impels us to do things
  • It affects us even though we are not fully aware of it
  • Its satisfaction, or frustration, can affect us dramatically

This is not to say that “self-honor” is, itself, an instinct.  It would be more accurate to say that “self-honor” is the result of an instinct being satisfied or fulfilled.  In this way, one could call it an “instinctual satisfaction”.

What, then, is the instinct that causes “self-honor”?

I often speak of the instinct that motivates “self-honor” as the “instinct of being a person-in-the-world”.  This means that there is a deep drive to actively participate in in the world . . .


This instinct pushes one to do a number of things:

  • To face the world
  • To confront the world
  • To interact with the world
  • To establish a relationship with the world
  • To interpret the world
  • To give meaning to the world

In many ways, it forces us to “awaken” to the world and reality.  If we didn’t have this instinct we would probably just “live in our own world” oblivious to the rest of the world.

Because this entails a relationship, which entails a lot of variables, it effectiveness is greatly influenced by many different things.  In other words, the relationship can be good to bad.  This means that it is greatly influenced by its effectiveness . . .


Being based in a relationship the fulfillment of this instinct is greatly determined by the effectiveness of that relationship or, to put it in other words, how “properly” it has been done.  When it hasn’t been done “properly” the instinct becomes frustrated and can cause problems.  What this means is that the instinct has “requirements” that must be fulfilled and satisfied.

Some aspects of fulfilling the instinct “properly” include:

  • We must “awaken”.  This means that our self must be “activated” and working.  We cannot remain in a “half asleep” attitude.
  • We must participate.  This means we must actively do things “as a person”, not mechanically or blindly.
  • We must develop a relationship.  This means that our relations with the world becomes a “give and take” and an association much like a person-to-person relationship.
  • We must have meaning in that relationship.  This refers to the fact that the relationship needs to be more than a relationship but one with meaning and value to you.
  • There must develop a “self-in-the-world”.  This is a sense of “I am a person in the world” that is real and binding.

A conflict in any one of these aspects can cause a disruption or frustration of the instinct which can cause problems.  The drive of the instinct, though, is to satisfy it . . .

4-“A satisfaction or Confidence”

The result of satisfactorily fulfilling this instinct is that it creates qualities such as:

  • A sense of satisfaction
  • A confidence
  • A sense of fulfillment
  • A respect of self
  • A respect of the world
  • A stronger sense of self
  • A stronger sense of the world
  • A sense of value of oneself
  • A sense of value of the world
  • A greater desire for a relationship between you and the world
  • A sense of being in a harmony with the world

These qualities describe “self-honor”.  It seems that “self-honor” tends to create a more rounded attitude that is mature, realistic, respectful, enduring, and with great integrity.


In many ways, “self-honor” as if awakens the self and makes the self legitimate and valid.  This means that it is related with the awareness of the self in the world.  In this way, “self-honor” is an aspect of the development of the self.  Perhaps one could even say that “self-honor” is the completion of the self?

I should point out that the “self” is not the same as individualism.  To me, individualism is more of a glorification of ones person, a statement of “I’m me!”.  The self is an awareness that one is separate from the world.  In this way, the self is like saying “I am removed from the world”.  Its like an acknowledgement.  Individualism glorifies or emphasizes me and what I can do.  They are not the same thing.


“Self-honor” tends to force a relationship with the world.  One could say that it entails a drive to associate with the world.

This drive is not always accepted by some people though.  Oftentimes, this drive is reluctantly accepted.  Sometimes, its denied.  There are people where this drive is not that strong as well.

I often feel that the acceptance of this drive is a big aspect in the growth and development of the male as “self-honor” is a trait of the male (see below).


Society tends to have a double edged quality to “self-honor” . . . it can destroy it or help it.  Its like there are two extremes to a spectrum:

  • Society as support.  Society can offer a good base for the self, ones association with the world, and the development of “self-honor”.  This can be a result of way of life, culture, belief, example, etc.  Generally, for a society to be supportive it tends to be “casual” and not be that imposing on the person.  But, at the same time, it must make a presence.  This seems more prevalent in smaller societies.
  • Society that is too imposing, strong, and overpowering.  If a society has too much power it can become like a burden on a person.  It can disrupt the development of the self and ones relationship with the world.  In some cases, it can turn people into something like a minion or drone.  This is seen in larger or more organized societies.


Many things can disrupt the development of “self-honor”.  Some of these include:

  • Fear
  • Lack of example
  • Lack of a healthy attitude
  • Lack of beliefs
  • Lack of participation
  • Too strong of society
  • Being in a condition that is too organized
  • Being too “cranial” . . . thinking too much
  • Conditions that are beyond ones control


When the instinct is not satisfied it becomes frustrated.  Some effects of this include:

  • One becomes “defeated”
  • There is a splitting of self
  • The self is not developed
  • Growth problems
  • Apathy
  • Indifference
  • One is “not awake”
  • One lives in ones own world
  • Regression
  • A minion or drone attitude

Many of these problems reflect problems of the self.  This is because “self-honor” is associated with the self, as I stated above.

I’ve written an article on “defeat”:  Thoughts on the “defeated people syndrome” – the effects of being defeated


Because this instinct is associated with the greater world there is a fear associated with it.  This is because there is an innate fear of the world, though many people are not fully aware of it.  In some respects, one could say that “self-honor” is an overcoming, or coming to terms, with the innate fear of the world.  I often think that one of the big hurdles to “self-honor” is overcoming this fear.  The opposite of this is a tendency that consists of things like retiring into a “shell” of some sort or a regression.


I often think that the sense of “self-honor” in people often creates characters such as god-like men, hero’s, superhero’s, superhuman men, and such.  They are men that are perceived as being”in league with the world”, so to speak, and in a special and beneficial way.  They seem “beyond human”.  But this is the perspective of people with low “self-honor” looking at people with high “self-honor”.  A person with high “self-honor” does not see it that way.  It seems that they only see a relationship which they must maintain.  In other words, “self-honor” isn’t something one achieves but, rather, something developed and maintained.  It takes a lot of work to develop and maintain “self-honor”.  It doesn’t just happen and maintains itself.  I often feel that many people lose “self-honor” because they don’t maintain it for some reason or another.


As near as I can tell “self-honor” is a male trait.  I don’t see it in the female.  I tend to believe it is related to the “world instinct” which is seen only in the male (see my article Thoughts on an aspect of the male character – the importance of the world and the “world instinct”, with remarks about other things).

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Life in general, Male and female, Philosophy, Psychology and psychoanalysis, World Instinct and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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