Learning How To Respect Yourself And Find Your Own Self-Worth

Updated March 9, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Developing respect for yourself is a personal experience that is deeply influenced by several aspects, including your past relationships, your upbringing, and your individual temperament and personality. If you do not understand how to find self-respect or simply do not have much to give to yourself, this article may help you on the path to self-discovery. 

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 do not realize that the way we treat or think about ourselves . Therefore, addressing any lack of self-respect will make a big difference in your self-esteem and how others view you. In this article, we will explore further on how to develop a system of respect for yourself and identify when you need to reach out for mental health support. 

Looking To Learn Strategies In Developing Self-Respect?

What Self-Respect Is Not

The American Psychological Association defines self-respect to be a feeling of self-worth and self-esteem that regards one’s own values, character, and, ultimately, dignity. Having a sense of self-respect leads to thoughts and behaviors that encourage autonomous actions rooted in independent thinking and perseverance. There is a marked difference between having self-respect and being egotistical or self-centered. Some may equate self-respect with narcissism (excessive admiration in oneself and relative disregard for other people’s feelings or desires). In fact, practicing healthy self-respect is not narcissistic in any way. 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?

Be advised the following material contains potentially triggering statements for some individuals. 

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 Environment: The effects of abuse are often far-reaching and affect many aspects of a person’s life, including perceptions of self and relationships with others. Children who are reared in a home where family are subjected to emotional abuse may hear statements like, "You are nothing" or "No one could want you." It can be challenging to overcome these abusive words that promote feelings of worthlessness. With healthy intervention and counseling, however, emotionally abused individuals can learn to view themselves in a more positive light.

  • Previous Misjudgments Or Mistakes: Many people make mistakes and ultimately believe they can learn and grow from these experiences. However, others feel guilty about their pass misjudgments and mistakes, and they may start to think critically about themselves. While most people experience regret from time to time, it is important to learn that past mistakes do not define your self-worth.

  • Comparing Yourself To Others: Sometimes, people who are developing their own sense of self-worth may look at another person's accomplishments and regret not having similar experiences. If left unaddressed, these feelings of inadequacy can cause a person to respect others more than themselves. If this sounds familiar to you, take a moment to take inventory of your own accomplishments. Look at the obstacles you've overcome in your own life and give yourself credit for these victories and your accomplishments. 

If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or Text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat.

Overcoming Lack Of Self-Respect

The importance of self-respect is sometimes difficult to grasp. Nevertheless, the way you perceive yourself can affect your mental health and influence the choices you make for your present and future endeavors. One of the steps you can make to overcome a lack in self-respect is to stop basing your self-worth on what other people think of you or how you appear to others. Looking to external sources for validation as opposed to internal motivators, such as being a kind and virtuous person, can cause excessive stress and lead to unhealthy behaviors. 

If you are working to overcome a lack of self-respect, it can seem difficult at first. This is normal because you are 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 do not have to tell all your innermost thoughts to every acquaintance in your life, 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 characteristics about yourself that you like, past and current accomplishments, and what makes you feel uplifted and invigorated. Do not write down anything negative. The goal is to learn to see yourself in a positive light by celebrating all the wonderful things about you.

Golden Rules Of Self-Respect

Do Not Settle For Less 

You would not tell your best friend to settle for less than they deserve, so why should you? Surround yourself with positive people, pursue your dreams, and when you hit a bump in the road, move past it. Do not settle for a relationship, job, situation, etc., that brings you down and lowers your self-esteem. 

Do Not Let Someone Else’s Opinion Interfere With What You See In Yourself 

While it is difficult to be in the face of someone who does not agree with who are you, stay firm in your stance and continue you on your own path of autonomy and self-discovery. Never let another person’s 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. If you are struggling with recognizing these traits, grab a journal and write down traits that you possess that make you a valuable and person worthy of respect. When you are finished, refer to the list when you are feeling low and negative about yourself. 

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 have 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.

Do Not Compromise Your Values To Fit Another Person’s Expectations 

Never hesitate to be your own individual person. Maintaining a sense of your unique personhood is healthy and builds self-esteem. One never needs to fit into someone else's idea of who one should be. True friends accept you and show respect for the things you value. Keep in mind that it is hard for others to know what you value if you don't know how to stand up for yourself and your own beliefs.

Take Care Of Yourself - Physically And Mentally 

Being in poor physical or mental health can take a toll on the way a person feels about themselves. If you have not already, initiate a plan to practice physical and mental health choices that benefit your well-being. 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 to valuing yourself and building self-respect:

"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

Looking To Learn Strategies In Developing Self-Respect?

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 therapist may be exactly what you need to work through these emotions and find a new level of self-respect. Fortunately, 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.

Recent research suggests that online therapy can help people with self-esteem issues that may be arising out of mental health concerns, such as depression or anxiety. In one study, published in Psychiatric Research, the benefits of online therapy for individuals experiencing symptoms of depression, and specifically those related to self-esteem, were examined. Researchers found that a 12-week online therapy program helped to increase participants’ self-esteem, empowerment, and overall quality of life. These findings are in line with similar current findings regarding the efficacy of online therapy when treating a wide range of mental health issues.

Unfortunately, many people do not seek counseling because it is expensive and time-consuming to drive across town for an appointment. With that in mind, platforms like BetterHelp give you the ability to participate in affordable counseling with licensed, experienced professionals from the comfort of your own home—via videoconferencing, voice call, messaging, or live chat. Plus, start at $60 per week, and you can cancel at any time. The licensed counselors at BetterHelp know how to help you regain your self-confidence and respect yourself. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"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 may 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 may find greater fulfillment in your life. Take the first step today.

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