What Does it Mean to Have Self-Respect?
Understanding self-respect starts with understanding respect in general. Respecting someone is honoring their dignity and treating them like a human being. Do you honor your own humanity, rather than tearing yourself down or hating yourself? If so, you’re building self-respect. If you’ve been through trauma, have been abused, or have been betrayed by a friend, spouse, or partner, it can be hard to respect yourself. After all, the people who hurt you did not respect you, so you may have started believing you were unworthy of respect. But because you were created for a unique purpose, and there’s no one like you, you are worthy of respect and dignity. To work on self-respect, remind yourself of your accomplishments, celebrate how far you’ve come, and acknowledge how much you’ve grown. Decide that you will invest your time and energy into relationships with people who treat you with care and respect. If someone disrespects you, let them know you are hurt, and that it is not okay to treat you with unkindness and disrespect. The more you see others’ model kindness and respect. and the more often you accept and celebrate your strengths and good qualities, the more you will respect yourself.
Do You Find It Hard To Respect Yourself? Why?
We all crave respect, no matter who we are. Yet it is very difficult to respect others when you don’t even respect yourself.
It’s been said, “You can’t like another person, until you like yourself.”
So let’s look at this…How can you show yourself the same kind of respect you want to show others and want them to show you?
When you don’t like or love yourself, much less respect yourself, you will always find a way to live your life blaming other people for all the pain you’re feeling, resulting in your life being consumed by anger, frustration and depression.
Katie commented with a very clear definition of self-respect, calling it “a pride in self.” “To have self-respect is to take yourself for who you are to wake up and forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made. If you focus on the bad actions that you’ve done, you cave yourself into darkness and can’t see the good in life, which is what a lot of teenagers do. When you are down, try to remember the good that you’ve done and not the bad, because focusing on negative thoughts leads you to nothingness in the end. It’s hard to overcome some self-respect issues, but when you’re able to look in the mirror and smile and tell yourself you’re a beautiful person, it is an amazing feeling.” Katie is right, a healthy self-respect is based on viewing yourself in a positive light.
8 ways to Help You Build a Healthy Respect for Yourself
- Don’t let other people’s opinions about you control you. There are many people who allow themselves to be forever shaped by what others have said or done to them. These people easily become approval addicts. They never really tune into their own needs. It’s like they are saying, “Please love me, so I can love myself. Please accept me, so I can accept myself.” These people will always feel a shortage of self-respect because they never allow themselves to break free from the grip of others.
- Don’t speak badly about yourself. Don’t let your mistakes or weaknesses define who you are. Don’t say, “I’m a loser, no one loves me, I hate myself.” You will soon believe what you say. On the other hand, if you say to yourself, “I am a person worth loving and respecting,” you will start to believe it about yourself. Remind yourself of your strengths and the qualities you have to offer others. Ericka has some insight into how she has learned to respect herself. “I made friends with people like me, got rid of friends that put me down, and before I knew it, I was happier than ever before. No one can truly understand the way you think, the way you do things and act. Being different is a blessing, not a curse. So, respecting yourself is to love who you are and love your personality.”
- Don’t let anybody force you to be or do anything you don’t want to do or be, simply to gain their approval or friendship. There is an old saying that says, “To yourself, always be true.” This isn’t a me-first kind of thinking that reeks of arrogance. It means not letting other people tell you what to do or think. Cynthia agrees with Ericka that to respect yourself, you have to know who you are. “You need to know your strengths, weaknesses, and emotions really well. You need to get more familiar with yourself and not become something that others want you to be, because that does not in any way show that you respect yourself cause you’d be willing to change just to please [others].” I agree with this, unless we’re talking about God or your parents encouraging you to be the person they see you have the potential of becoming.
- Don’t violate your own moral codes. There will always be people who treat themselves with poor self-respect, because they have done disrespectful things or violated their own moral code and hate themselves for it. There is a saying among some psychologists which states, “If you think better, you will act better. And if you act better, you will feel better.” I couldn’t agree more. The opposite is also true. If you think poorly, you will act poorly. And if you act poorly, you will feel poorly. Your self-respect will be extremely low and unhappiness will be your constant companion.
- Control your emotions. A part of respecting yourself is learning how to handle your emotions without causing more problems for yourself. When we let our rage and hurt out in a damaging way, it only causes us to embarrass ourselves, destroy relationships, and leads to low self-respect.
- Increase your knowledge. Develop interests and passions. Find a hobby. Learn as much as you can. Learning about things going on in the world around you will expand your brainpower and understanding, and will let you speak intelligently to a wide variety of people you meet. As you explore all the different opportunities this world has to offer, you will learn more about what you personally have to offer back to the people around you. There are so many people who live in such a small world, they feel others would never value their opinions and what they know. They see themselves as stupid or dumb. The way you see yourself is the way you’ll act. It happens every time.
- Seek a relationship with God. To know that God loves and respects you is the very foundation of self-respect. After all, God knows all about us and still loves us. Shelby has learned that to respect herself she has to try and see herself as God sees her.
He created all of us special. Have you ever made something, like drawing a picture, and it was just amazing? And you were so proud of it, even though you didn’t think you had it in you to make that? Now take that and imagine how God must feel about creating us! Since I’ve looked at myself that way I’ve seen a whole different me in the mirror every day. Even without my makeup! -Katie
- Be responsible. Do the things you need to do. Janice commented with a list of practical ways to show self-respect: Take care of yourself. Brush your teeth, comb your hair, dress nicely (not to bring attention, either over-fashionably or sloppily), don’t overeat (or undereat!), eat what is good for you, and drink water. More importantly, to take care of yourself, read your Bible and pray. Just doing what you know is the right thing to do will cause your self-respect to skyrocket–whether it’s doing your homework, chores around the house, or showing up to work on time.
Here are a few more quick ideas about self-respect:
- Respect others.
- Be quick to forgive others.
- Be friendly to everyone you meet. Friendly people are never miserable people.
- Hang around encouraging people who are doing positive things.
- Don’t lie. When you continually tell the truth, you give yourself the priceless gift of a clear conscience.
- Make good decisions.
Lisa wrapped up what I’ve been trying to say in one just powerful comment. “I never thought that I needed to learn to respect myself but I realize that almost everyone is lacking in this area, no matter if you have thousands of friends or just one. In the end, everyone is looking to be accepted.”
It’s important that you pay attention to the negative self-talk that is going on. To learn how to protect yourself from negative self-talk read this blog.