How to Respect Yourself

Posted by Yohannes Zewde December 14, 2011


Having respect for others is difficult if you have no respect for yourself. The idea of self-respect is very closely related to self-confidence, but respect is more about what you do whereas confidence is about how you feel. The two go hand-in-hand. This article, however, will focus on how you can demonstrate respect for yourself. Odds are, when you do these things, you'll find your confidence increases as well.

1) Think about what it means to respect someone. The qualities that we respect vary from person to person, and the way we express it varies from culture to culture. Generally, we respect people who have more experience and are more accomplished than ourselves. But there is also a basic level of respect that most people will agree is a right, and does not need to be earned. Consider what that kind of respect (which we'll refer to as basic respect) entails. Here are some widely agreed upon signals of respect:

You don't steal from, harm, or insult them.

You are honest with them.

You listen to what they say, consider their opinion, and avoid interrupting them.

2) Practice basic respect towards yourself. Whatever you believe to be respect, apply it to yourself. Don't harm yourself. Don't insult yourself. Don't steal from yourself (like recklessly putting everything on credit; you're essentially taking money from your future self, because you'll have to pay up eventually). Be honest with yourself. And develop your own opinions. See How to Be a Skeptic and How to Think for Yourself.

3) Recognize when people disrespect you, and take steps to stop it. A person with self respect doesn't allow others to treat them badly, and would rather not associate with someone who is disrespectful. This might seem obvious, but there are many times when we accept being treated badly (in both big and small ways) because we believe the person doesn't know any better, or because we're not willing to let that person go, or because we're too down on ourselves to believe we deserve better. When someone doesn't give you basic respect, you need to be able to say, in one way or another, "You just disrespected me and that's not acceptable to me. If you don't respect me, I won't spend time with you anymore." Can you say that, and mean it? Can you turn your back on someone who's clearly shown that they don't respect you? Once you do, you'll feel your sense of self-respect go up.

How to Recognize a Manipulative or Controlling Relationship - It can be hard to see when a person close to us is being disrespectful, especially if they're subtle and sneaky and it's been going on for a long time.

How to Stop Being Needy - Many times in dating or friendships we let people walk all over us because we feel needy.

How to Stop Being a People Pleaser - Paying attention to everyone else's needs but your own is a classic sign of low self-respect.

How to Practice Nonviolent Communication - When you do confront someone about their disrespectful behavior, try to stick to these communication guidelines.

4) Take care of your body. A person who neglects their health fails to see how lucky they are to be alive. When you make an effort to keep your body in good working order, you'll not only feel better physically, but you'll also feel a sense of pride. Respecting your body also means not insulting it for what it is, naturally. Don't trash yourself over the things you can't control, like your proportions. Focus on the things you can change and improve, like your BMI. And do it because it feels good, not because you think you're not "good enough" the way you are.

5) Get to know yourself. The more you understand about yourself, the more you'll see and appreciate how unique you really are, and the more you'll respect yourself. Discover your principles, personality, and talents. Stop pandering to other people's approval and start developing your own standards. Someone else might respect a fancy title, but you might respect creativity. Whose opinion matters more, in this case?