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.
But what if you think, “I have no self-respect?” Or you wonder, “What does self-respect mean?” Let's go over why you need it and how you can respect yourself more.
Why is self-respect important?
How do you gain self-respect? To develop it, 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.
- No one is going to build your self-respect for you; it’s a choice you have to make.
- How much you respect yourself generally determines how much others respect you.
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?”
When you build self-respect . . .
- You accept personal responsibility for your own life.
- You feel worthy and others view you as worthy and deserving.
- You value yourself enough to make healthy, sound choices.
- You feel empowered to follow your values and have your own boundaries.
- You are able to protect yourself from being taken advantage of.
- You feel happier and more self-confident in your career and life.
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 — on yourself and others.
What Is Self-Respect?
Self-respect is a feeling of pride and confidence 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 acting 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.
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 know how to respect yourself to improve your self-esteem, feel more confident, enhance self-love, and boost the overall quality of your life, then take the following actions.
13 Ways to Gain Self Respect
Choose one of these 13 actions to begin building self-respect and self-love. Make a commitment to work on these steps daily to build the habits and mindset to respect yourself.
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.
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, review some of the many articles online.
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. Take care of your mental and emotional needs.
It's hard to feel good about yourself if you're not prioritizing your mental and emotional needs. How are you not taking care of your emotional well-being?
- Do you have a sense of emotional security?
- Do you have the agency and freedom to make your own decisions?
- Do you feel connected to other people?
- Do you have enough privacy?
- Is your mental health where you want it to be?
Identify the most pressing area in which you aren't honoring your emotional or mental needs, and make a list of exactly what you need and want.
You may need to work with a therapist or coach to help you create an action plan for self-care and better mental health.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
Want some specific respect examples?
Ok, so you understand the concept of self-respect, why it's important, and what you need to do to improve it. But what does respect look like? Let's review some examples of respect in action.
Rather than allowing your boss to berate you or demean you, you let him or her know you find the language inappropriate and unprofessional.
When all of your friends are drinking too much and acting like idiots, you use self-control and know when to stop.
Your new love interest wants you to change something about yourself that's important to you. You explain why you can't honor the request and still stay true to yourself.
One of your friends is constantly late and never apologizes. You speak up and let him or her know it isn't acceptable to you.
Someone you know suggests that your idea for a new business is bound to fail. You know it can be a success. You believe in yourself and move on with your plans.
You are offered a lucrative job working for someone with questionable integrity. You decline the job even though the money would be great.
When you realize your worth, what will you do?
I hope you 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!
Of course, you don't like feeling used and having no self-respect — no one does. So today is the perfect day to start turning it around.
- Take a hard look at yourself and pinpoint how you are letting others disrespect you and how you are disrespecting yourself.
- Write these down and use the strategies in this article to come up with actions to address your lack of respect for yourself.
- Focus on your values and integrity and how you can align your actions with these guiding principles in your life.
Over time, you'll see that you feel better about yourself, and you'll notice others are more respectful toward you. Demand no less and your life will take a dramatic turn for the better.