How To Build Self-Respect In 12 Simple Steps

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Did you know that 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.

Why is self-respect important?

If you don’t respect yourself, others — especially those who look to you for an example of how to live and relate to others — pick up on that.

If you have children, they’re more likely to adopt the same attitude regarding themselves.

And when you try to tell them to “show some self-respect,” they’ll likely think (if they don’t say it out loud), “Why should I, when you don’t?”

Because you show your self-respect in the actions you take and the words you use — as well as your body language — others can see how much or how little you respect yourself. And, one way or another, the message you’re sending has far-reaching effects.

Make them good, and you help others do the same. You can guess the alternative.

To build self-respect, you need to believe — or at least want to believe — the following truths:

    • You deserve to be treated with respect as much as any other human.
    • How much you respect others generally determines how much you can respect yourself.
    • No one is going to build your self-respect for you; it’s a choice you have to make.

What Is Self-Respect?

Self-respect is something that is earned and achieved over time. When you consistently live within your values, integrity, and life priorities, you feel good about yourself and your reliability and personal commitment.

With self-respect, you grow to trust yourself and your behavior because you have a history of behaving and speaking in a way that makes you feel good about yourself.

Those with self-respect . . .

  • Honor their values and morals more often than not.
  • Speak about themselves confidently but with appropriate humility.
  • Dress in a way that reflects the positive way they feel about themselves.
  • Have a personal mission statement or personal operating system to guide them.
  • Admit their flaws and mistakes and work to improve them.
  • Don't allow other people to take advantage of them or speak down to them.
  • Know when to leave a compromising or unhealthy situation or relationship.
  • Treat their bodies and minds with care and honor.
  • Can show respect to others who merit it.
  • Recognize that their time, energy, and resources are valuable.
  • Can create appropriate boundaries with others.
  • Don't need to apologize for who they are.
  • Take personal responsibility for all of their actions.
  • Don't feel diminished by constructive criticism or advice.
  • Keep trying in the face of adversity and don't give up on themselves.

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 self-respect yourself

Choose one of these 12 actions to begin building self-respect and self-love.

1. Determine your values.

Random action based on guess-work or the opinions of others won't do the trick.

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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. 

Simple Self-Confidence

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.

Simple Self-Confidence

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.

headshot of woman closeup self-respect

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.

Related: How To Love Yourself: 26 Ways To Cultivate Self-Worth

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.
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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 (and respectable) 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.

How To Gain Self-Respect. Click To Tweet

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 realize 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.

Did this post help with your feelings of self-respect? Pay it forward!

I hope you enjoyed this post and found some useful nuggets to help you build self-respect and feel great about who you are and what you are achieving in life. Thank you for reading it!

There are so many people struggling with a lack of self-respect and confidence who need some words of wisdom to inspire them.

Will you pay it forward by sharing this post on your favorite social media platform and help build a world of self-respecting people? Good deeds create good Karma!

Self-respect and self-esteem are different. Learn how to gain self-respect by understanding what actions you must learn and take for self-respect.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 11 comments
  • Harshajyoti Das

    Hey Barrie, It’s such a beautiful post. You are so right about earning self respect by achieving our goals (or in other sense, by what we do). As we create both small term and long term goals ahead of us, we get a step closer to building our self respect (in front of our own eyes).

    Achieving these goals gives us immense happiness and a sense of confidence for our next task. When your inner voice tells you that you can do it, there’s nothing in this universe that can stop you.

    Whenever I have a setback in my life, I always keep telling myself, “I have done this before I can do this again”. This inner voice is stronger than any inspiration you can get. We will find this inner voice once we start crossing our boundaries and actually start doing something (without thinking about the consequences). Negative thoughts of failure is inevitable but it shouldn’t stop us from working towards our goals.

    Barrie, I loved POINT 11 and what you said about performing a self-check. We need to talk to our inner self and ask if we are proud of our achievements, check regularly if we have built our confidence by accomplishing a short term goal.

    A continuous self-evaluation can connect us with our inner self and works towards building our self-respect.

    Overall, you have done complete justice to your article by highlighting the essentials. Thank you Barrie for such a motivational post. Keep inspiring people around you.

    Many Blessings !

    – Harsh

    Author, “Be The Genius You Were Born To Be”

    Reply
  • Deh La Rose

    I do the self-check every month 😉 It’s awesome to see the changes!

    Reply
  • Dolores

    Excellent Advice! I must commit my vision to paper.

    Reply
  • lynne

    Hi, Thanks for sharing. The tips you gave are really very helpful and when you mentioned that If you want self-respect, don’t stagnate. Seek out meaning and passion in your life, i definitely agree with you. Great post!

    Reply
  • william

    Great post Barry! I’m a big fan of yours and your emotional intelligence is fascinating. What I would like to ask though is – don’t you think we should also be careful of how much self-esteem we release into our lives? That too much self-esteem can cause us to react solely from a personal view and disregarding other people’s perspectives and boundaries? That you love yourself no matter what and will get the best for yourself no matter the consequences of it? I’ve been struggling the past year with finding a healthy self-love and not being narcissistic. While at the same time of course not ever “talking down yourself” either.

    Reply
  • Daryl

    I really like the content here. Taking action is the key. Especially with how lucky we all are in today’s modern world, there has never been a better time to thrive.

    Reply
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  • chris mwirigi

    Just feeling as if i hav already reached to my destinany as im taking step towards it

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  • Avneet Singh

    Amazing!! I felt so positive after reading the whole article. Please keep these amazing articles coming.
    Peace!

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  • Zee

    At this point in my journey, I have been looking for practical advice on how to build self respect. Thank you for your advice. It is well rounded and ‘doable’.

    Reply
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