Self-respect and self-esteem are different.
Self-esteem comes from how you think and feel about yourself.
Self-respect comes from what you do.
Although you can work on changing your thoughts and feelings alone, the path to self-esteem is far less difficult when you work on self-respect
As I said, self-respect is based in action, and it’s much more productive to take positive action, regardless of your thoughts and feelings, as your actions will eventually impact your self-esteem.
Action is the most powerful force for positive change you can apply. Combine action with positive thinking, and you have the ability to reinvent yourself inside and out.
If you want to improve your self-esteem, feel more confident, enhance self-love, and improve the overall quality of your life, then let’s start with self-respect.
Here’s how to gain self-respect in 12 simple steps:
1. Determine your values
Random action based on guess-work or the opinions of others won’t do the trick. Your actions must be guided by your values, and your values must reflect your authentic self. These values are the foundation for every decision and action in your life. Act against your values, and you’ll lose respect for yourself. If you don’t know your values, take a look at this list of 400 value words. Spend some time on this exercise. Everything else hinges are defining these for yourself.
2. Write a vision
Once you know your core values, it’s time to think about how you want to apply those values in your life and work. Are you mindfully creating your life or simply reacting to circumstances? Do you know who you are, what you want, and how you’re going to get there? Take control of your life by creating a vision for it. Even if your vision seems impossible or improbable, write it out anyway. Define your ideal in every area of your life, from your relationships to your career. If you need help writing the vision, read this post.
3. Choose your priority
After you complete your vision, choose one area to work on that will have an immediate positive impact on your life or career. Create a very specific goal related to this part of your vision. For example, if your vision is to buy a house in a particular city, then your first goal might be to start saving $200 a month. Or it might be to create a plan to move to that city. Make your goal “smart” — specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-related.
4. Take action
Once you define your first goal, break it down into action steps, and create a calendar of action to perform those steps. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much when you first begin. Take very small actions daily so you are motivated to proceed. As you create momentum, you’ll be inspired to tackle bigger parts of your goal. Small achievements boost your self-respect and confidence, and create energy to keep going.
5. Create accountability
Announce your goal publicly to family and friends or even on social media. Report daily on your actions, and ask for support and feedback. Accountability has been proven to accelerate action and success. If no one knows what you’re doing, you’ll be more likely to quit.
6. Ignore your thoughts
One of the reasons we avoid taking action (and therefore lose self-respect) is because of our negative, limiting thoughts. The minute you create your vision or define your goals, your mind will swoop in to harass you. It will present all of the reasons why you won’t be successful and all of the potential negative consequences of your actions. Don’t listen. Fearful feelings and self-doubt arise for everyone when they implement change. As you continue to take small, positive actions, those thoughts will diminish.
7. Change your thoughts
Beyond just ignoring the negative thoughts, be proactive in replacing them with positive, affirming thoughts. Positive affirmations aren’t simply feel-good statements. Affirmations have been proven to enhance performance, reduce stress, improve willpower and self-control, improve problem solving and creativity, and build social confidence. When practiced deliberately and regularly, affirmations reinforce the neural pathways in the brain, making the connection between two neurons stronger. Write a list of positive affirmations related to the inevitable success of your goal. For example, an affirmation might be, “I am living in a beautiful home that I can afford in San Francisco.”
8. Expect setbacks
Failures and mistakes are part of taking action. Expect them to happen, and change your mindset about them. These setbacks don’t have to impact your self-respect or confidence if you view them as stepping stones to your ultimate destination. Anyone who has ever been successful experienced many setbacks on the path to their success. The key is to mine any nuggets of information from the setback and use those nuggets to help you try again more successfully. Once you learn from your setbacks, move on as quickly as possible without looking back.
9. Treat yourself respectfully
In addition to taking action on your vision, take action on treating yourself with respect. Even if you don’t have self-respect yet, change the way you talk about yourself and behave toward yourself. Don’t demean yourself in front of others or behave in ways you know you’ll regret later. Picture yourself as a respectable, admirable person, and act “as if” you are that person until you feel it.
10. Spend time with respectful people
We tend to attract people in our lives who reflect our state of mind. If you’re lacking in self-respect, you might be reinforcing your feelings by surrounding yourself with people who don’t respect you. Begin to create boundaries for yourself that show others you have self-respect. Release people from your life who don’t honor your boundaries. Actively seek out people who treat you the way you want to be treated.
11. Perform a self-check
After you’ve been working toward your goal and vision for a few months, evaluate how you’re feeling about yourself. Acknowledge what you’ve accomplished, even if you haven’t reached the ultimate destination. Are you proud of your efforts? Are you honoring your values? Do you feel more confident in your abilities? If you answer “no” to any of these questions, what can you do to adjust your actions or goals to get back on course? If you answer “yes” to them, you’ll notice you have more respect for yourself, and as a result, you have more self-esteem.
12. Don’t stop
Your self-respect needs to be fed. You can’t maintain self-respect based on just a few successes. Continue to refine your vision as you move into different phases of your life. Continue taking positive actions that move your closer and closer to realizing your vision. Constantly measure your goals against your values, and every few years, clarify your values based on the changes you’ve made in your life.
If you want self-respect, don’t stagnate. Seek out meaning and passion in your life. Look for opportunities for growth and positive change, even if you feel scared. Jump into the river of life and keep moving. You’ll find self-respect comes naturally if you do.
photo credit: jev55 via photopin