Respect Yourself

Developing a strong sense of self-respect can help you fulfill your potential, develop healthy relationships, and make everyone around you see you as a person who is worthy of respect. If you truly want to respect yourself, then you have to accept yourself, and work on becoming the person you always dreamed of becoming. Take steps to know how to feel happy with who you are and make the world treat you as you deserve to be treated.


Getting in the Right Mindset

  1. 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. It can take a while to complete this exciting process of self-discovery, but you'll quickly see that it was worth it.
    • Make a list of things, people, feelings and activities that are important to you. This will help you identify what you really like and need in your life.[1]
    • Try out different activities. This will give you a chance to see what you like and what you don't like.[2]
    • Try writing in a journal. Pretend that you're having a conversation with your 99-year-old self and you're asking for advice on what to focus on in your life. You can also start with the writing prompt, "What do I want to avoid writing about?" This will start an honest conversation with yourself.[1]
    • Spend time with yourself by pretending you're dating yourself. Try out a new restaurant that's exactly what you'd like to do.[3] This will give you a chance to connect with your own feelings and opinions.
  2. Forgive yourself. If you want to respect yourself, then you have to be able to forgive yourself for things you've done in the past that you’re not proud of. Admit what you did was wrong, apologize to others if necessary, and work on moving forward. If you're too hard on yourself for making the wrong decision or saying something hurtful, then you'll never be able to move on. Know you're human. People make mistakes. Making mistakes is the way we learn, so accept them and forgive yourself.[4]
  3. Accept yourself. Be comfortable in your own skin, learning to love and accept the person that you are. This doesn't mean you have to think that you're perfect, but you have to learn to embrace yourself. Be happy with all of the things you love about yourself, and be okay with the parts of you that are less-than-perfect, especially the ones you can't change.
    • Stop saying you'll love yourself if only you lost twenty pounds, and start loving the person you are right here, right now.
  4. Work on building your confidence. Achieving self-respect is difficult if you're not happy with who you are, how you look, or what you're doing. Building true confidence takes a lot of work, but doing a few simple things every day can start you on your way.[5]
    • Start by maintaining positive body language and good posture, smiling more, and thinking at least three good thoughts about yourself each hour.
    • If someone compliments you, accept their statement by saying, “Thank you.”
  5. Maintain a positive attitude. A positive attitude can make or break your success in life, as well as your thoughts about who you are. Even if things aren't going your way, be confident about the fact that something good is bound to happen eventually. Be pleased with your everyday life and all that it can offer you. If you feel overly negative about everything and only imagine the worst in every situation, then you're bound to never feel good about who you are or to give yourself the respect you deserve.
    • For example, if you applied to a job you really want, don't say, "There's no chance I'll get it. There are so many more qualified applicants." Instead, say, "It would be so exciting to get that job. Even if I don't get asked for an interview, I'm still proud of myself for applying."
  6. Stop trying to keep up with everyone. One of the reasons you may be lacking self-respect is because you feel bad that you're single while all of your friends are engaged, or that you feel inadequate that you don't make as much money as other people you know. Maintain your own standards and work on achieving the goals you want to achieve. Don’t waste your time doing what you think will impress your Facebook friends or give you bragging rights. It's much more impressive to succeed at doing what you want to do instead of following the path that everyone else has taken.[5]
  7. Cast aside your envy. Stop wishing you had what others have and work on achieving what you really want. The feelings of bitterness and resentment that come along with jealousy will only make you dislike yourself and wish you were someone else. Cast aside envy and work on what will make you happy.[6]
  8. Believe in your choices. If you want to respect yourself, then you have to believe in the decisions you've made. You have to be firm in your beliefs and make an effort to understand yourself and to know what will really make you happy. Give yourself the reward of a decision well-made and stick to it, no matter how difficult it may be.
    • It's okay to ask other people for advice, and this can actually help you gain a more balanced perspective, but you shouldn't spend your time doubting yourself, thinking that what you've done is all wrong, and wishing that you had done something else.
  9. Learn to handle criticism. To truly have self-respect, you have to be aware of the person you really are. If someone gives you helpful and constructive feedback, evaluate what they’re telling you. You may be able to use the feedback for self-improvement. Constructive criticism can help you achieve your goal of being a better person.[7]
    • Your boyfriend might say that you could have been a better listener when he really needed you, or your boss might say that your report could have been written more carefully,
    • If someone is being mean or trying to hurt you, then throw that feedback out the window. Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between someone who tells you something that is true in a harsh way and someone who tells you something mean in a "nice" way. Evaluate this criticism honestly and carefully.
  10. Don't let others get to you. Though it may sound impossible, your sense of self-worth and happiness should come from yourself, not from the people around you. Sure, some compliments or rewards can make you feel better, but at the end of the day, your happiness and self-satisfaction has to come from within. Don't let other people tell you who you are, make you feel small, or make you question your beliefs. If you want to respect yourself, then you have to trust that you've made the right decisions, and learn to let the haters hate.
    • If you're always letting people change your mind or make you rethink your decisions, then people will think that you don't have strong convictions. Once you find things you really believe in, it'll be harder to let all of the negative people in your life really get to you.

Taking Action With Yourself

  1. Treat yourself with respect. We often do things to ourselves that we would never dream of doing to someone we care about. For instance, when’s the last time you called a friend ugly, told them they weren’t good enough, or discouraged them from following their dreams? Whatever you believe to be respect, apply it to yourself. Don't insult or harm yourself, no matter how bad you feel. This kind of treatment is only bound to make you feel worse. Here are some other ways to treat yourself with basic respect:
    • Don't steal from yourself, such as 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 instead of being in denial about what you really want.
    • Think for yourself by developing your own sources of knowledge and doing research, instead of just following the opinions of others.
  2. Take care of your body. 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. Make an effort to get fit and stay healthy, but don't trash yourself over the things you can't control, like your proportions. Focus on the things you can change and improve, and do it because it feels good, not because you think you're not "good enough" the way you are.[5]
    • This doesn't mean that going to the gym and looking amazing will automatically lead you to have high self-respect. But it does mean that if you don't put any time or care into your appearance, that you'll start to lose respect for who you are.
  3. Target areas for improvement. Respecting yourself does not mean thinking that you are perfect and that there is absolutely nothing that you need to work on and improve. It means being able to accept the things that you cannot change about yourself, while working to address the things that you need to work on. Take some time to really think about yourself and to consider the areas you'd like to work on the most; maybe you would like to improve your listening skills, or you would love to handle life's daily little stresses a lot better, or you would like to have a more balanced approach when making the people around you happy without sacrificing your own needs.
    • Make a plan to make some headway in these departments, and soon, you'll be on your way to having more respect for yourself. Make a list of areas you’d like to improve. Take note when you make improvements, however small. It’s important to write down your small and big victories.
    • Of course, changing behaviors and the thoughts and feelings associated with those behaviors takes more than a day or two; it takes a big commitment and persistence. But taking the first steps to become a person that you respect more will make you feel more confident about who you are.
  4. Improve yourself. Improving yourself means taking the steps to try new things and to open your mind to new possibilities.
    • Improving yourself can mean taking a yoga class, volunteering, spending more time learning lessons from the elders you care about, learning to see multiple perspectives about a situation, reading the news, and striving to learn new things.

Interacting With Others

  1. Respect others. If you want to respect yourself, then you have to start with respecting the people around you, not just the people who have more experience or are more accomplished, but all of the human beings on this earth who have not caused you harm. Of course, certain people don't deserve your respect, but you should work to treat people like you want to be treated, whether you're talking to your boss or the check-out girl at your local grocery store. Here are some basic ways to respect others:
    • Be honest with people.
    • Do not steal from, harm, or insult them.
    • Listen to what they say, consider their opinion, and avoid interrupting them.
  2. 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, stand up for yourself and tell that person to treat you better.[8]
    • If someone continues to disrespect you, let him go. Nobody said it was easy to turn your back on someone who has clearly disrespected you, if you care about that person a lot. But once you break the bad habit of associating with someone who makes you feel terrible, you'll feel your self-respect soar.
    • Learn 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.
  3. Learn to practice nonviolent communication. When you do confront someone about their disrespectful behavior, try to stick to positive and productive communication guidelines:[9]
    • Don’t resort to yelling or insulting the other person. These types of actions root the conversation in judgment and are not productive.
    • Identify your feelings. Be honest about what you are feeling, taking responsibility for these emotions.
    • Clearly state what you need or want from the situation. You might say, “I need to have a better image of myself, and I don’t want to listen to negative comments about myself.”
  4. Don't rely too much on others to feel good about yourself. Many times in dating or friendships, we might sacrifice our own needs and allow ourselves to be controlled by others because we are too afraid of losing them. You might perceive their opinions to matter much more than your own. In addition, paying attention to everyone else’s needs but your own is a classic sign of low self-respect. Instead, trust your own opinions and put your own needs first. Learn that you do not need to depend on someone else for your happiness.
    • A good place to start is to figure out what you can control and what you can't control. For example, you can't control the actions of other people (you can influence them, but not control them), and you can't control the weather. But you can control how you react to people even in bad situations, and you can control how you decide to feel.
    • You can also take actions to improve the way you are handling different relationship situations, such as learning to be more assertive, and learning about healthy boundaries, how to enforce them, and how to stick to them. This will help you learn healthy behavior patterns that will encourage people to treat you well and increase your self-respect.
  5. Forgive others. If you want to respect yourself, then you have to learn to forgive the people who have wronged you. This doesn't mean that you have to be best friends with them, but it does mean that you should mentally forgive them and learn to move forward. If you're spending all of your time thinking about all of your grudges and resentments, then you won't be able to think clearly or to live in the present. So, do yourself the favor of forgiving people so that you can move forward.[5]
    • Even if someone has done you unspeakable harm, you need to work on moving on from the experience and the person. You can't let yourself wallow in anger and resentment forever.
    • Forgiving others is a gift you give yourself, and an action you do for your own self-healing. It's okay to be angry for a little while, but if you are angry too long, the anger will interfere with your life and your happiness. Realize that when people treat you badly, it's because they don't have people in their lives treating them well, so they could be worse off than you. So, forgive them for their mistakes and transgressions for yourself, and the person who will benefit most is you

Being Good for Yourself

  1. Don't demean yourself. If you want to respect yourself, then you should stop demeaning yourself, especially in front of others. It's one thing to laugh at yourself, but it's another thing to say things like, "I look so fat today," or "Why would anyone want to talk to me anyway?" If you put yourself down, you are encouraging others to do the same.[10]
    • The next time you have a negative thought about yourself, write it down instead of saying it aloud. If you say it aloud, you'll be more likely to think it's really true.
  2. Don't let other people see you do something you'll regret later. Try to focus on doing things that will make you proud of yourself, not just things that get cheap laughs or short-term attention. Stay away from regretful behavior, such as getting too drunk and acting sloppy in public, or hooking up with someone at a bar just for the attention.
    • Try to maintain a consistent image of yourself. It will be hard for people to respect you as the smartest guy in class if you were dancing around with a lampshade on your head at a party the night before.
  3. Deal with powerful emotions. It's okay to lose your cool from time to time, but if you're losing your cool too often and over little things, it will help your self-respect to deal with life's little stresses more efficiently. Try going for a walk to cool down, take deep breaths, and come back to the situation when you are calmer. Dealing with life's situations with a calm mind rather than when emotions are running high will help you feel more in control and better about the way you handle your daily situations, which in turn will help your self-respect.
    • If you feel yourself getting angry, excuse yourself and go for a short walk, get some fresh air, or call someone who can help you feel grounded. You can also try meditation, writing in a journal, or talking it out with someone.[11]
  4. Admit when you're wrong. If you truly want to respect yourself, then you have to be able to know when you've made a mistake. If you've messed up, let people know in a way that shows that you're truly sorry and that you've put enough thought into the situation to avoid doing the same thing again in the future. Taking responsibility for what you do and doing your best to make amends for it will help you move past feeling bad about making the mistake, which will help your self-respect, because you will know and be proud of the fact that you did your best even though things didn't go as perfectly as you would have hoped. Give yourself and the people around you enough respect to be able to admit that you're only human.
    • If you learn to admit that you're wrong, people will have much more respect for you and will be able to trust you more.
  5. Spend time with the people who respect you. Being around people who make you feel terrible about yourself is guaranteed to lower your self-respect, because you'll feel bad not only because of what that person says, but deep down, you'll also be mad at yourself for letting that person hang around you. Find people who make you feel positive, good about yourself and the world, and who actually take the time to listen to you and to help you sort out your feelings.[5]
    • This is especially true for relationships. It will be close to impossible to have true self-respect if you're dating someone who makes you feel worthless.
  6. Stay humble. Some people think that bragging about their accomplishments will make people like them more. Doing this, however, will actually make you look insecure. If you really want people to respect you, practice modesty and humility, letting other people recognize for themselves how awesome you are.


  • Develop a unique and original way of expressing your opinion while at the same time being a good listener.
  • 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. (Of course, the two go hand-in-hand.)
  • Never be afraid to be yourself.
  • Make out your mind about how you should treat someone perfectly. And while doing so also think that you deserve to be treated the same way.
  • Thought to Ponder: A royal person maintains his royalty and poise in all circumstances. Cheerfulness in all situations is royalty. There might be situations challenging my state of self-respect and happiness. But I will continue to move forward with a sense of self-respect and positivity.

Point to Practice: Today I will remain seated on my secret of self-respect in all I do. I will order situations, my mind and my own sense organs whilst seated on this seat. I will not come down and get colored or affected by the negativity of the situation.

  • Remember the principle of "treating others, how you would like to be treated" then reverse that principle and start treating yourself the way you actually want to be treated (with dignity, respect, honesty, integrity, etc).
  • Treat everyone around you and yourself the same way with the same amount of respect.

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Sources and Citations