Self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-respect are terms that are often used with similar connotations. However, self-respect is distinct from self-esteem and self-confidence in that it shapes how we act, not just in front of others, but to ourselves as well.
Self-respect is vital to making proper actions in accordance with our values and for nurturing self-worth, regardless of our backgrounds, experiences, cultures, and imperfections.
Building self-respect is a crucial part of our happiness and self-fulfillment. It will keep us at peace, both with ourselves and the world around. We have talked about this topic with Kate Skurat who has been working in healthcare since 2017. She mainly treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, grief, identity, relationship, and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience is focused on individual and group counseling.
Self-Respect vs. Self-Esteem: What’s the Difference?
Self-esteem may be impacted by our backgrounds, socio-economic factors such as income and education, image and appearance, abilities, etc. Self-esteem is great to rely on being under “normal” circumstances that are fairly predictable. But in uncommon situations, such as too much emotional pressure, this outer shell called self-esteem can start to crumble.
People who project healthy self-confidence may in reality have a low sense of worth in themselves. Such people may be successful, but underneath they may be battling internal turmoil and experiencing self-worth issues.
What is self-respect? It’s sort of a compass that guides most of our actions both towards ourselves and others. When you have healthy self-respect, you’ll find that there are certain situations, things, and people that you can confidently keep your distance from, and there are those that resonate with you.
One may have high self-esteem, but this may not necessarily translate to self-respect, especially in situations of overwhelm, pressure, and stress.
Self-respect means being confident in yourself in every situation and acting with dignity and honor. It isn’t associated with how much you have in the bank, how educated you are, or how good you look in the mirror.
Self-Respect: Signs That You Should Work on It
True happiness and self-fulfillment are in high regard influenced by our levels of self-respect and self-love. Self-love isn’t arrogant, nor are pride or ego implied by the term “high self-worth”. However, self-respect is walking in that way that you know is right, being true to yourself even when faced with adversity or influence, showing kindness and grace to yourself and others, and having a moral code.
Self-respect doesn’t need to be brought up in a mansion, nor does it need to have been an elite at the finest schools. It knows no boundaries and comes from within. So here is how you know you have it or are working towards it.
You don’t lose yourself in tough situations
You can hold yourself and your own even when under pressure or strong influences and strive to act rationally.
You don’t seek validation from others
When you are comfortable with who you are, your experiences, and your mistakes, this projects itself as self-confidence and high self-esteem. You won’t seek to do things you don’t want to, be in toxic relationships, let someone control you, or overindulge in negative habits such as casual sex and drug culture.
Your emotions don’t control you
Life is tough, and tough situations are to be expected. How you react to such moments is a reflection of what is more important to you and what guides you. If you’re always bouncing back to rebounds after a break-up, fighting with co-workers in times of pressure or insult, or being verbally or physically abusive to your spouse during disagreements, you may lack self-respect.
You talk to and view yourself positively
The people around us such as our friends, family, and co-workers are a powerful feedback mechanism to know how the world views us. These people may fill you with compliments and positive feedback, all of which build our self-esteem and confidence. But if we have psychological or internal issues that we haven’t dealt with, we may be talking down to ourselves despite such compliments from others. If you talk positively to yourself despite failure, setbacks, and even negative talk from others, you are on the right track to self-respect.
You’re not afraid to say “no”
If people constantly walk over you and belittle your input or values, it may be a sure sign that you lack self-respect. If a loved one, especially a spouse, does this, it may be a sign that you are dealing with a narcissist or sociopath. Speaking to a therapist may help you uncover the truth about what you are dealing with in such a situation.
You love yourself
Self-love may dare be the most important part of self-respect because it means you are putting your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being first. You won’t talk down at yourself when things aren’t rosy, or when you fail. You’ll remind yourself of your successes, and you’ll reward yourself when you exceed expectations. This is where your inner light and peace will resonate from.
How to Build Self-Respect
You can build self-respect by simply being true to yourself, your ideals, and your values. At any given moment we have control over our choices and can choose the most rational course of action.
A lack of self-respect is usually resulting from a lack of self-care and personal awareness, which may lead to a lack of self-love. A lack of self-respect may give rise to bitterness, shame, guilt, self-hatred, and inability to live a happy life.
How to gain self-respect? Here are a few tips:
- Surround yourself with the right people and positive influences.
- Stop doing things that make you feel bad inside.
- Don’t be with a person that makes you feel worthless. Talk to a therapist if you are in an abusive relationship.
- Find a hobby or something that you are passionate about and do things you enjoy doing.
- Always think twice before doing anything if you don’t trust your judgments. Talk to a friend or a therapist if you feel like you are about to make a rash decision.
Finally, leave the past behind? Probably the single biggest reason why people lack self-respect is that their past actions and choices condemn them to guilt and shame. Forgive yourself and make peace with others. Tomorrow always brings new beginnings and new grace.
Self-Respect Is Self-Care
Learning what it means to respect yourself is one thing, but keeping to this path means taking proactive actions and filling our day with positive images and affirmations. Put a break on the sloppy and negative habits, end that relationship if you have to, quit that degrading job, or tell your boss no. On this path is where you will find true happiness and inner peace.
Therapy online has proven in 2020 and 2021 that it is the most viable option for folks seeking affordable and convenient therapy. Mental health providers now offer various services online, and you, a friend, or a loved one may find such services useful if you are dealing with mental health issues.