Self-Respect- an Essential and Fundamental Life Skill
What Is Self Respect and Why Is It Important?
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous words are very appropriate when discussing self-respect. Because self-respect is based on action, it is much easier to change. And once you correct your actions, your thoughts and feelings can follow. The action is a potent force for making positive changes in your life. When you combine actions with positive thinking, you can change yourself, your life, and how others view and treat you. (Source)
- value your attributes, talents, skills, and abilities
- feel more confident,
- direct others as to how you want and should be treated,
- improve your life.
- be a better person and partner
How Are Self Esteem and Self Respect Related?
It can be hard to differentiate between these two essential concepts of self, but they are distinct from one another. Let’s think of the two root words: esteem and respect.
- Esteem means to evaluate something positively, to hold it in high regard. Esteem gets into trouble when results differ from your evaluation of it. I can hold my favorite team in high esteem, but when they have several losing seasons in a row, that esteem becomes harder to keep positive.
- Respect is about acceptance. Respect is not contingent upon unending success or idealized traits. We accept our favorite team because they continue to give their best effort. We do not compare them to others and judge them consistently for what they are lacking. Our esteem of them may be lower, but our respect for their continued hard work remains high.
The same is true of the self. Self-esteem is how we evaluate ourselves, while self-respect is our ability to accept ourselves as we are. Self-respect is how we treat ourselves and, in turn, how we expect others to treat us. While this can contribute to and is intertwined with our feelings of self-esteem, they are two different things. Working on your self-respect will teach you how to accept yourself so that you can live happily. (Source)
How to Develop and Increase Respect for Yourself? [22 Steps]
Developing self-respect is just like learning any new skill. You have to practice; you have to try new techniques and be deliberate. And with time, you can learn how to respect yourself more and show others how you would like to be treated. The first step, though, is acknowledging you have some work to do in this area and making the conscious choice to focus on it.
The first step toward developing self-respect is acknowledging and believing that, when it comes to decisions about your life, you matter more than others. You treat yourself with the same love and respect that you like others to treat you. It is more important that you are happy with your life choices despite judgments from other people. It is critical that you love yourself more than others like you.
Acting with self-respect can be difficult if you have always been a people pleaser. Putting yourself first can seem difficult when you have traditionally put others before your own needs. When you are adjusting your mindset toward one of self-respect, you may experience feelings of guilt or selfishness at first. But always putting others first leads to resentment and anger.
When you focus on your own feelings first, you can build up your trust in yourself. It becomes a model for how others should treat you. The following are suggestions for mindsets, activities, and strategies you can use to work toward building your self-respect. (Source)
With a focused goal of building your self-respect, and working toward it consistently, you can experience more positive behaviors to yourself and how others treat you.
1. Your Behavior Teach Other People How to Treat You
When you begin to understand that others’ take their cues from you and simply respond, you can take charge of yourself. When you have self-respect, you are not the victim of others’ bad behavior. Instead, you lead by example and show others how they should be treating you.
You can lead in how you treat other people as well as how you treat yourself. By learning to change your own behavior toward yourself and others, you will receive healthier results in how others treat you, too.
When you allow others to take advantage of you, even if they feel sorry for it, you are sending subtle and not-so-subtle signals.
When you say, it is okay for someone to treat you poorly, you are transmitting the same messages about your own perceived self-worth.
Speaking up for yourself, making sure your concerns and opinions are heard, you must show others how you want to be treated. (Source)
2. Focus on What You Can Change
When we work on ourselves, it is easy to shift our attention instead to how others treat us or view us. Remember that you cannot change other people or things that have already happened. You can only control you and how you react to the various life’s situations.
Accept this fact of life and focus your energies and work on changing yourself, ignore all those things you cannot change. You will be more likely to make progress and feel better about your situation.
3. Be True to Yourself and Your Needs
When you have self-respect, your goals and needs are what is essential in your life. You do not compromise your true calling based on others’ opinions or choices. Having faith in your values and beliefs will help you remember what is important to you.
You must follow your own path, not one chosen by others.
The only person that needs to respect your opinions is you. No one else. When making choices, consider whether it is more important that you are happy or that someone else thinks you made the right decision. The path to self-respect means that only you matter.(Source)
4. Know Your Personal Values
Exercising self-respect means grounding your choices in your values. Those values must reflect who you are at your core. They are the foundation of your life and should form the basis for all your actions and choices. Get to know those values. Take a long look at them to determine which are authentically yours and which need to be adjusted.
Taking some time to write about your values can be helpful.
Make a list of the 20 most important values you want to guide your life. Examine each one and give a specific example of how you want that value to be reflected in how you live. When you come to one you can’t elaborate on, consider whether it’s an actual value or one you think you are supposed to have. (Source)
Defining your values for yourself is a useful exercise to do periodically, even if you think you are clear on your guiding principles. We change over time as life presents us with new challenges and learning experiences. Revisit these often to check in and see how your life is reflective of these critical principles.
5. Effectively Communicate Your Vision
It can be beneficial to select all the essential aspects of your life and envision your ideal for each. For each part of life that makes you a whole, well-rounded person, consider how your values will play out and what your personal goals are for each. Here are some areas of your life to consider.
- Intellectual life
- Health and wellness
- Personal relationships
- Financial life
- Spiritual focus
- Quality of life
You can make up categories that work better for you, too. For each, set a goal or create a vision for yourself that is grounded in your values. Use words and images, if it helps, to articulate your ideal in each area. Whether you choose to write this down in a journal, create a vision board to display as a reminder, or use some other technique to put your thoughts into the world, make sure they don’t just stay inside your mind.
The process of articulating your vision can be quite powerful.
Creating a vision will help you take control of your life and make decisions based on your core values and goals. Defining your ideal enables you to set parameters of what you can and cannot accept from yourself as well as from others.
6. Take Care of Yourself Before You Take Care of Others
Once you have clear goals, select one area on which to focus as a top priority. This goal should be something that can have an immediate, positive influence on your life. Whether the goal is about how you treat yourself or something you want to accomplish, make sure:
- you can measure if you’ve reached it
- that it is realistic for the time frame you have set.
Take action toward your goal each day.
Identify small steps that will get you there and reward yourself for accomplishing these sub-goals. Focus on each step one at a time, or the process can feel overwhelming. After you start experiencing success, you’ll feel more confident to set larger goals, building momentum toward self-respect and confidence.
7. Overcome the Urge to Always Want to Impress Others
Being comfortable with who you are means no longer worrying if your choices are acceptable to others.
You cannot build self-respect if your end goal is to impress someone else.
Permanently striving to impress others is an unhealthy focus for anyone and is likely to leave you feeling unsatisfied and defeated.
8. Stop Being Jealous of Other People’s Success
Envying others for their success or happiness is sure to rob you of your own joy and self-respect. When you are unhappy that someone else is happy, you are not accepting of yourself, your values, and your own life. Instead of focusing your energy and emotion on others, focus instead on how to treat yourself better and reach your personal goals.
Comparing yourself to anyone else means you are expecting others’ success or failure to define you.
9. Be Accountable to Yourself and Others
When you are working toward developing your self-respect as a fundamental life skill, being accountable to yourself and others can be helpful.
Once you have set a goal, tell someone else about it so that they can check in on your progress.
Write it down for yourself and create reminders to help you stay focused. If you don’t meet your goal, what’s the consequence? If you’ve told someone, make sure you give them regular updates and ask for feedback and support to help you make progress. Being accountable can help you reach your goal and experience success.
10. Change the Inner Voice of Negativity
The negative, inner voice we all have can often keep us from taking action in our lives. The negative thoughts that judge your feelings, your plan, or your goals can force you to lose self-respect because it robs of your power for action.
The first step to banishing that voice is to stop listening to it.
The second you hear its ugly voice, shut it down. Don’t let those doubts and fears influence you. Instead, press forward. By ignoring the voice, you give it less power, which makes it less likely to return in the future.
Next, you need to change your thoughts proactively by focusing on the positive. Don’t give the negative thoughts any space in your mind; instead, fill it with affirmations to reinforce the pathways in your brain that will lead to success. Positive affirmations have a profound effect on the brain, including reducing stress, improving problem-solving abilities, building confidence, enhancing performance, and improving self-control.
Finally, if you make a mistake or experience a setback, don’t let the negative demons back in. Resist the urge to disparage yourself. Putting yourself down is not helping you develop self-respect. Your self-talk is very powerful, and self-deprecating speech can lead to feelings of pain and even hatred toward yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself in the face of adversity and remember to treat yourself as you want others to treat you, too.
11. Be Ready for the Inevitable Setbacks
It is certain that you will make mistakes on your journey toward improved self-respect and happiness. Failure is a part of learning and growing, so setbacks are expected. It’s how you react that is key.
Instead of allowing mistakes or problems to derail your progress, look at them as opportunities for learning.
What happened that you did not expect, and what will you do differently next time? What can you take away from this experience that will inform other areas of your life? Setbacks are merely opportunities for growth, and if you enter into your journey with this mentality, you are more likely to persevere in the face of obstacles.
12. Accept Criticism with Grace
Learning to handle criticism is an essential part of developing greater self-respect. While it can be difficult, learning not to take criticism personally is an essential skill. If someone is offering you criticism about your work or performance, don’t take it personally.
Criticism is often a beneficial tool for helping us to improve if we can look past the critical part and think of it merely as feedback.
What is this person telling you that can help you perform better? Is the answer is nothing, then move on. If the answer is helpful to how you work or do something, then take it and move forward. This shows you have respect for your own abilities, appreciate learning more to improve, and can admit you have room to grow. (Source)
13. Forgive Yourself and Start Moving Forward
None of us is perfect. We have all done things of which we are not proud. To have self-respect in light of our past mistakes, you have toadmit your errors, apologize to those affected, and move forward.
By forgiving yourself for past mistakes, you are committing to the future with a renewed focus on who you are now.
Continually punishing yourself for things you did in the past is not helpful or loving. In the same way that accepting criticism from others can be useful, learn from those past mistakes, but don’t get stuck thinking negative thoughts about yourself because you messed up. Self-forgiveness is a crucial component of self-respect.
14. Don’t Let Others Have Power Over You
Only when your self-worth comes from you and not others, you do have real self-respect. While rewards and compliments are sweet to hear, it is more important that you are happy with yourself, not how others view you. Whether it is building you up or tearing you down, allowing others’ to define your emotions or make you feel differently about yourself is not healthy. You know yourself better than anyone.
Trust those decisions and feelings.
Consistently allowing others to sway your opinions or ideas tells people you don’t trust your own thoughts. Focusing on your values and making decisions that align with those and are in your best interest will be helpful to stay the course.
Even positive attention from others can lead to issues of self-respect. When you are relying on the praise of others to boost your self-respect, you are making yourself vulnerable to disappointment and pain. It should matter more what you think and feel about your accomplishments, not others. To make your self-respect less tenuous and more firmly grounded, think outside of the praise of others. Consider only how you feel about your accomplishments. (Source)
15. Control Your Emotions and Feel Confident
Dealing with the stress of life can be tough. When your go-to reaction is extreme anger or another powerful emotion, you are depleting your energy for maintaining self-respect and control.
If your temper runs hot or you are often irritated by things, work on keeping a more even keel with your emotions.
16. Treat Yourself with Respect
If you want others to treat you with respect, you have to start first with how you treat yourself. Even if you feel your self-respect is very low and something you are working on, focus on changing your behavior toward yourself.
Don’t demean yourself and behave in ways that will make you proud later on.
Never accept behavior from yourself that you find unacceptable from other people.
Behave “as if” you have high self-respect, and over time, self-respect will indeed grow within you. (Source)
17. Surround Yourself with Respectful People
It is true that we attract to us others who are similar in some way. If you have a low sense of self respect, you may be reinforcing how you feel by befriending others with low self-respect or may not respect you, either.
Decide for yourself how you want to be treated, then be sure to tell others when they cross those lines.
If people cannot honor your requests for respectful behavior, let them go from your life. Seek out instead those who are respectful of themselves and others. You will find that helpful for your self-respect journey.
18. Treat Everyone with Respect and Lead by Example
By treating others with respect, you lead by example in two ways. You help others to see how you want to be treated. And, you remind yourself why you are deserving of self-respect and how you should treat yourself.
Build others up, and they will build you up in return.
19. Check in With Yourself
After you have been working toward self-respect for a while, check in to see:
- How you are feeling?
- How are you progressing toward your goals?
- How are your values playing out in your life currently?
- What are some triggers that make it difficult for you to feel respectful of yourself?
Depending on your answers, what adjustments do you need to make in your habits and plans?
These check-ins are essential to helping you achieve your goals.
Without them, you won’t know where you are experiencing success and where you still have work to do. Don’t wait until you feel terrible to do something about your current state.
20. Rely Only on Yourself
When we love someone or value their opinions, it’s easy to allow them to control our decisions. But, if you regularly sacrifice your needs for someone else or let others’ opinions to overrule your own constantly, you are likely in need of a self-respect boost. Your own ideas and needs are the most important in your life. Letting others dictate these is not healthy or helpful. Likewise, linking your happiness with someone else is hazardous.
While it is nice to feel loved and valued, it is more important that you love and value yourself.
If you have to sacrifice your self-respect so that someone else is happy, you may want to evaluate your relationship. While you can influence others,’ you cannot change them. If someone needs you to be unhappy so they can be happy, it is time to move on. Assert your own needs and establish healthy boundaries to build your self-respect. If the other person finds this threatening, you don’t need to stay.
21. Practice Forgiveness
Living in the past is a sign that you are not practicing self-respect. Forgiveness of yourself and others is an important step. A constant focus on past problems means you will continue to experience guilt and resentment.
Release your self-respect from past mistakes.
Accept them and move on with confidence and renewed focus. (Source)
22. Never Quit Trying
Working on your self-respect is a lifelong endeavor. As we grow and change, our behavior toward ourselves shifts as well. Refining your vision based on new values and needs is an essential part of development.
Don’t quit working on self-respect just because you experience a few successes.
Take new, positive actions periodically to get closer to your goals, and remember why you started this journey in the first place. Remember that, even when you experience setbacks and disappointments, you can’t give up. It’s about the journey, not the destination. Self-respect is about what is inside you, not your wealth or status, so continue to ground yourself in that knowledge. Keep your intentions positive, do your best to achieve your goals, and you will find yourself in a happier, healthier place throughout your life.
Building Self Respect As A Fundamental Life Skill
Developing your self-respect can help in many areas of your life. From working with others to successful relationships, from meeting career goals to living a happy life. Your self-respect is an integral part of who you are and how others see and treat you.
Working toward this goal is essential and being aware of your own issues with self-respect and setting realistic goals is a significant step forward. Self-respect will allow you to handle all of life’s challenges and live happily and peacefully. (Source)
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