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Take a few minutes to look at your life thus far from an aerial view.
From this outside perspective, how do you feel about your skills, accomplishments, and where you are today? Can you see the growth or progress that you’ve made since the last time you were struggling? When objectively looking at your life, are you proud of the person you’ve become and the path on which you’re continuing to travel?
Even if the answer is yes, we could all use a reminder to have some respect for ourselves for those days that we feel ‘less-than-perfect’ about our choices, relationships, current life situation, or anything else for which you’re feeling regret.
If you show respect for yourself, you’re able to be confident and set firm boundaries in your life that are conducive to your happiness and sense of fulfillment. Having self-respect involves knowing your values and what you stand for, which leaves out uncertainty and guarantees that you will accept both your strengths and your weaknesses.
This inner quality is one that every person must take time to cultivate. So in this article, we are going to look at 9 ways you can show respect for yourself. But first, let’s look at what the concept of self-respect really means.
Self-respect is achieved when you know you’re living up to your own high standards, you value your skills, choices, opinions, and knowledge, and you believe you’re deserving of being treated well by yourself and by others.
This means that you’re confident that you can make worthwhile life decisions to set yourself up for success in the future.
While having self-respect is a critical step to gaining genuine confidence and demonstrating self-love, it is not the same as having high self-esteem. Yes, having self-esteem means you’re confident in your success, skills, and abilities; however, self-respect concentrates on who you are as a person and the regard you have for yourself.
You may wonder why it is not enough to have high self-esteem, which is a fair question. But self-esteem is fleeting. It’s based on a self-evaluation that can be easily impacted by one bad day or wrong move. When you have self-esteem without self-respect, you’re prone to feeling regret, guilt, and stress about your actions or what other people think about you. Self-esteem can quickly be damaged if it’s not endorsed by other people’s reactions and opinions.
However, self-respect is hard to shatter because it requires your own acceptance of yourself–regardless of what other people say–as well as an acceptance and willingness to learn from your mistakes and continue to see yourself in a positive light.
Let’s take a look at how you can show yourself some respect.
A big way to show self-respect is through practical tasks such as taking care of your body, brushing your teeth, dressing nicely, eating healthy foods, exercising, getting enough sleep, and staying hydrated. Show others that you have self-respect by presenting yourself in a respectable way so people around you will respect you as well.
Doing the things that you already know are right will amplify your self-respect–and alternatively, doing what you know is the wrong thing will diminish your self-respect. I was always taught in school that how you dress directly impacts how you feel and act. This is not to say that you need to have expensive clothes or you need to wear fancy clothes every day–you simply need to dress for success.
Studies have found that people who dress well by avoiding clothes with holes in them, ill-fitting clothes, or any other type of inappropriate attire have more confidence, feel more powerful, and tend to focus better on the details of the task at hand.
Additionally, others perceive well-dressed people as being leaders, and often go to them for advice or support more frequently than those who are dressed sloppily. So to show respect for yourself, dress for the job that you want, not the job that you have.
Another example of being responsible and doing what you know is right is getting the sleep you need. If you’re exhausted at work because you stayed out the night before drinking until the early hours of the morning, you’re not likely to hold yourself to a high regard as you’re struggling to make it through the day.
Or think of how you would feel if you left work one day with papers piled on your desk and a long list of things you had to do the next day because you spent the day gossiping with your co-worker. You would likely feel pretty poorly about yourself and feel guilty for not getting any work done. At the moment, you know these things aren’t good for you, but you choose to do them anyway, which can certainly damage your self-respect.
Speaking of being responsible, giving in to a desire for instant gratification and having a lack of concern for the longer-term consequences of your actions demonstrates very little self-respect. When you choose instant over delayed gratification, you’re choosing to give in to satisfaction in the moment rather than delaying that feeling to gain a greater reward in the future.
In order to have motivation to succeed to meet your long-term goals, you need to be able to visualize what your ideal future looks like, and that vision needs to be more powerful than achieving a short-term small gain that ultimately sets your “bigger picture” progress back.
When you have the ability to delay gratification, you can achieve more of your long-term goals, which will ultimately prove to yourself that you’re able to achieve great things. Knowing this will not only increase your self-worth, it will also allow you to show great respect for yourself.
Being patient for gratification requires discipline and the ability to visualize the future that you want and recognize its value enough to forfeit what you desire in the moment. When you look at it like this, it’s easy to see how resisting instant gratification demonstrates self-respect.
At the base of self-respect is knowing (and living by) your values. When you take the time to hone in on your core values and start working on living by them, you’ll start to exude self-respect. This also shapes your interactions with other people, inviting others to be more respectful towards you as well.
When you’re living by your values and you’re willing to accept responsibility for your choices because they’re value-based, you’ll discover that your personal interactions become more genuine as well.
There may be instances in which you need to stand by your character and even defend your values from time to time–which can be hard in our society where influencers are often out to challenge your thoughts.
So do some self-reflection to determine what actions, habits, or practices make you feel good. Then, you can show respect for yourself by prioritizing these habits each day and living in line with your values. This may mean exercising regularly, eating a specific diet, or spending time doing a hobby that you enjoy.
But no matter what it is, these are things that you choose to do. Don’t let anybody influence your values according to their beliefs or opinions–especially if you’re doing so just to gain their approval or acceptance. Instead, live with honesty and be true to yourself despite what other people say or do.
You need to know who you are to show respect for yourself. And by becoming truly familiar with yourself, you won’t change yourself into someone that other people want you to be, which would in many ways be disrespectful to your own talents and interests.
Resource: Here are 13 worksheets to help you find your core values.
Which leads me to…
A big part of showing yourself respect is knowing how to handle and control your emotions (or responding wisely to adverse situations) without creating bigger problems. Learning how to do this helps boost your confidence and prevents your emotions from ruling your life. With this type of self-control, you’re less likely to act impulsively by expressing your anger in a damaging way, leading to embarrassment, strained relationships, and reduced self-respect.
You can learn how to control your emotions and practice more self-respect. There are small ways to help you maintain control of your emotions. Firstly, being aware of your emotions allows you to be proactive in preventing an emotional breakdown, which can also improve your confidence.
Secondly, maintaining your basic needs like we talked about in #1 will help you feel more in control of yourself in general, which will reduce your sensitivity and help you gain some mental strength.
Here are some other things you can do to help keep your emotions in check:
Resource: Here are some emotional self-care activities to try to help you stay in control of your feelings.
People who let themselves be molded by other people’s opinions never become truly tuned into their own wants or needs. It’s almost as if they’re waiting for other people to respect them before they can respect themselves. If you allow yourself to be controlled by what other people think, you won’t gain the self-respect that you need because you’ll be trapped under the control of other people’s thoughts.
And while people typically have good intentions, their advice is often tainted by their own emotional influence. So if someone advises you that you shouldn’t or can’t do something, don’t let that be your deciding factor for the actions you ultimately take. While you may take a trusted loved one’s opinion into account, at the end of the day, you have to figure out for yourself what’s right and what’s wrong for you.
Resource: Use these decision making templates to make your best life choices.
Instead of defining yourself by your mistakes, lead with your strengths and the positive qualities you have to offer the world. A large part of self-respect is about treating yourself how you would want other people to treat you. So if you focus on your self-perceived flaws, you’re allowing the rest of the world to do that too.
If you want other people to notice your strengths, make the effort to not only notice them yourself, but also to highlight them in your everyday life. Acknowledge your successes and your achievements, face challenges with confidence, and remember the power of positive thinking.
One activity that you can do to figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are is a personal SWOT analysis. This will not only help you identify the things that you have going for you right now, it will also help you determine your areas for potential improvement and any outside factors that may be standing in your way to meeting your goals.
You probably wouldn’t have a lot of respect for a friend or acquaintance who consistently made empty promises to you–and the same thing applies with the promises you make to yourself. Whenever you set a goal or intention, follow through with it so you can gain confidence in the fact that you will work for the things that you want.
When you make plans that correlate with your SMART goals, comply with these plans to build self-respect. Once you can see that you stay true to your intentions, you will learn to trust and respect yourself. And if you keep following through with your promises, you will gain confidence in knowing that you will stick with any goals that you set out to achieve.
Creating a sense of self-trust is a powerful tool in showing yourself respect because you will stop doubting yourself and start trusting your own processes, which will help you take on challenges with confidence knowing that you will succeed.
Being honest and having respect go hand-in-hand. When you’re honest with yourself, you can recognize the things in life that are benefitting you and helping you progress, as well as the things that are holding you back. You won’t be willing to compromise on the things that matter the most to you.
When you’re dishonest with yourself, you’re choosing to see only what you want to see, while ignoring the things that you don’t want to acknowledge. And, of course, it’s often easier to turn a blind eye to your problems instead of confronting them head-on. While this may offer some short-term contentment, it’s unhealthy and destructive in the long-run.
It can be challenging to be honest with yourself because it requires you to pay close attention to your feelings and thoughts. But even if facing the truth is difficult, you will respect yourself more if you choose this path.
Keep in mind that being honest with yourself doesn’t mean you need to pass judgment or be critical. You’re not trying to damage your self-esteem–you’re trying to gather information today to help you improve your tomorrow.
Being a continuous learner is important for so many aspects of your life– and expanding your knowledge in academic endeavors is equally as important as continuing to learn new skills, developing new interests, discovering new hobbies, and learning about what’s going on in the world.
As long as you continue to grow, work on your personal development, and avoid becoming stagnant in your life, you will have every reason to respect yourself for your ability to improve upon the person you were yesterday.
Continuing to learn and exercise your brainpower will let you interact with other people intelligently, which will also help you see the unique things that you have to offer. This will allow you to recognize that other people value and respect your opinions and what you know, which can help you respect your own unique knowledge as well.
You deserve to be treated well by yourself and by other people. This is why having self-respect is a critical component to living a happy and healthy life.
Follow the tips laid out in this article to continue to cultivate your respect for yourself. This will help you create boundaries that communicate your worth to others and set expectations for what people can expect from you.
Along with self-respect comes confidence, a willingness to grow, and an overall healthy lifestyle. Try a few of these tips to gain the self respect that you need to live a fulfilling life.
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.