Love Letters to Humans (no. 77) — on the Seductiveness of Contempt

Contempt: a disregard for what is so, particularly—in our relationships—the sovereignty, wholeness, power, capability, knowing, wisdom, or innate worth of another person… or ourselves.

Contempt is seductive. It’s seductive to think we can know someone else’s motivations, their thoughts & feelings, their needs & wants better than they do… without having to ask.

We cannot.

Contempt allows us to believe we don’t have to relate, to ask, to listen, to be with the reality of what someone else actually has—their thoughts, their wants, their knowing, their sovereignty. It allows us to assume, to believe the stories we tell ourselves, to bulldoze. In contempt, we believe we can save other people from themselves and their own poor decisions.

As self-esteem goes, contempt for others puts them somewhere down there, and us decidedly above them. It’s seductive because it feels good. In punitive cultures and hierarchies of worthiness, it feels safer to believe that we are better than, wiser than, stronger than, more worthy of love and less worthy of punishment than the next person.

We come by it honestly… we learn what we live. AND we can choose another way to be in relationship once we know what we’re up to.

Choosing healthy self-esteem is a decision to recognize our own innate worth and humanity as equal to, not greater or less than, anyone (and everyone) else’s innate value and humanity. We are no better. We are no worse. We are just as worthy and deserving of existence, love, care, and regard as every other being in the world… and no more so.


Relationship is. Right relationship nourishes.