It’s Time To Learn: How To Respect Yourself
By: Darby Faubion
Updated November 14, 2019
Medically Reviewed By: Judson Haynes
Do you find it easy to show respect toward others, but struggle with your own self-worth? Whether your feelings are the result of relationship issues, a lack of positive influence, or various insecurities, learning to respect yourself can feel like a difficult journey.
After all, what is self-respect? Why is it so important? According to Merriam-Webster, self-respect is defined as "a proper respect for oneself as a human being; regard for one's own standing or position."
In addition to that, many people don't realize that the way we treat or think about ourselves tells others how they can treat us. Therefore, addressing any lack self-respect will make a big difference in your self-esteem and how others view you.
What Self-Respect Is Not
There is a huge difference between having self-respect and being conceited or self-centered. In fact, practicing healthy self-respect is not narcissistic in anyway. Understanding the difference between self-respect and self-centeredness will help you keep things in perspective.
A person who is self-centered or narcissistic makes every situation about themselves. While they may show temporary or feigned concern for another, these individuals ultimately want to know how a situation will benefit them. Self-respect, on the other hand, is about treating yourself with kindness and compassion, which includes establishing healthy boundaries for how others should treat you.
Why Do People Lack Self-Respect?
A lack of self-respect can be attributed to several factors, some of which are listed below. However, the following situations will not apply to everyone.
- Being raised in an abusive home: The effects of abuse are often far-reaching and affect more aspects of life than you might think. Children who are reared in a home where family members are subjected to emotional abuse often hear statements like, "You are nothing" or "No-one could want you." It can be challenging to overcome the feelings of worthlessness that these statements create. With healthy intervention and counseling, however, an estimated 74 percent of emotionally abused individuals learn to view themselves in a more positive light.
- Previous poor choices: Many people make mistakes and ultimately believe they can learn and grow from these experiences. However, others feel guilty about their poor choices, so they start to think critically about themselves. While everyone experiences regret from time to time, it's important to learn that past mistakes do not define your self-worth.
- Constant comparison to others: It's easy to look at another person's accomplishments and regret not having similar experiences. If left unaddressed, these feelings of inadequacy can cause us to respect others more than ourselves. If this sounds familiar to you, know that it's okay to take inventory of your own accomplishments. Look at the obstacles you've overcome in your own life and give yourself some credit. (We'll talk about ways to do this later in this article.)
Overcoming Lack of Self-Respect
The importance of self-respect is sometimes difficult to grasp. Nevertheless, the way we perceive ourselves tells others a great deal about who we are and how we expect them to treat us.
If you're working to overcome a lack of self-respect, it can seem difficult at first. This is normal because you're on a journey to a new way of thinking. It helps to have friends who are willing to listen to your feelings and who understand your desire to change. While you don't have to tell all of your deepest, darkest secrets to every friend, try asking a few positive friends for help while you work on developing self-respect.
What You Can Do to Promote Self-Respect
Because we often compare ourselves to others, reflection is one of the first steps to addressing issues with self-respect. Start by creating a list of encouragement. Write down things about yourself that you like, things that you've accomplished, and things that make you feel good. Do not write anything negative. The goal is to learn to see yourself in a positive light by celebrating all of the wonderful things about you.
Golden Rules of Self-Respect
- Don't settle for less. You wouldn't tell your best friend to settle for less than he/she deserves, so why should you? Surround yourself with positive people, pursue your dreams, and when you hit a bump in the road, move past it. Just don't settle!
- Other's opinions of you should never shape what you see in yourself. People can be fickle at times. Men and women alike can be moody or get angry about things today that may not seem important tomorrow. Don't let their rants or negative remarks about you determine what you see in yourself or shape who you are. Instead, know that you set the standard for who you are and what other people see in you.
- Focus on your positive traits. While acknowledging shortcomings is necessary for self-improvement, those temporary flaws should never be allowed to overshadow the positive things about you. Like everyone else, you deserve respect.
- Forgive yourself. We all make mistakes. If life had a rewind button, we would all probably be stuck somewhere in the past trying to fix the things that went wrong. Unfortunately, no such button exists. If you've made a mistake and regret it, address it and move on. Make amends if you need to--this includes making amends with yourself. Then forgive yourself and start anew
- Don't compromise your values to fit someone else's expectations. It's ok to be your own individual person. In fact, it's healthy. You don't need to fit into someone else's idea of who you should be. True friends accept you and show respect for the things you value, but it's hard for others to know what you value if you don't stand up for your own beliefs.
- Take care of YOU - physically and mentally. Being in poor physical or mental health can take a toll on the way a person feels about themselves. If you haven't already, initiate a plan to practice good physical and mental health. Eat healthy meals, exercise, get plenty of rest, and challenge your mind on a regular basis.
Popular Quotes About Self-Respect
Read the quotes below to get a little inspiration on your journey.
"If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete." - Jack Kornfield
"Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy." - Robert Tew
"The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself." - Michel de Montaigne
"The only person that deserves a special place in your life is someone that never made you feel like you were an option in theirs." - Shannon L. Alder
"When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everyone will respect you." - Lao Tzu
"Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives." - Louise L. Hay
"Self-care is never a selfish act -- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others." - Parker Palmer
When You Need Additional Help
For many people, a lack of self-respect can stem from deep-rooted feelings that need to be addressed. Seeking the help of a counselor or a therapist may be exactly what you need to work through these emotions and find a new level of self-respect. Luckily, there are counselors who specialize in human emotion and thought processes. They can help you discover the reason for your feelings and teach you healthy ways to address them.
Unfortunately, many people do not seek counseling because it's expensive and time-consuming to drive across town for an appointment. With that in mind, online counseling is becoming increasingly popular. Platforms like BetterHelp give you the ability to participate in affordable counseling with licensed, experienced professionals from the comfort of your own home. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
"I feel extremely comfortable talking with Shannon Francom. She has a very warm personality and has been working with me to help me feel more confident in standing up for myself and improving my self esteem in all areas of life."
"AJ has been amazing! She made me feel comfortable from the start. I'm in a safe space with her. She's helped me improve my self esteem and my relationships. Thanks to AJ, I have a deeper understanding of the self and I am better equipped to deal with stress, anxiety, anger, etc."
Self-respect is a very important part of mental wellbeing. If you want to find balance and greater happiness, you'll need to address any thoughts or ideas that have a negative effect on your self-perception. Whether you choose to confide in friends or seek professional counseling, the sooner you address these issues, the sooner you'll find greater fulfillment in your life. Take the first step today.