Who doesn’t want respect? Whoever you are, you’d want—or need—respect, in one way or another. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re a “someone” in a semipolitical culture, or the new kid on the block … far, far away from home.
People will either respect you or not.
When everything seems irreversibly wrong, however, especially when you find yourself alone, do you still know how to respect yourself? Like, when the people you used to trust turned their back on you? Or—they simply showed you who they really are, only different from how you’ve known them?
Let’s define respect for a minute. Interestingly, the term has a handful of definitions, even though similar to one another.
Here’s what I came up with: Respect is the condition, attitude, behavior, expression or feeling with which a person demonstrates honor, admiration, friendship, esteem or regard to another person.
Wonderful words, right? Whether you see it or not, respect is simply beautiful. Especially if you sense that the people around you respect you—you feel good about yourself, you believe you can build better relationships, you can have more fun.
But what if the opposite happens? What if for some reason, you become that guy who just happens to have a different opinion? Or what if others simply find your authentic self weird? You try, but the respect just doesn’t fall into place. And you don’t know why.
Self-respect basically means the same as above, only there are no two persons involved anymore—it’s going to be just you this time.
But how? How in the world can you respect yourself when you think no one else does?
Below are tips to help you get by. Just remember, no amount of respect from other people matters if you don’t respect yourself.
Identify what you like and dislike about yourself.
Please, if you haven’t done already, write this kind of things down, so your ideas crystallize. Sometimes there’d just be aha moments—you discover things about yourself you’re unaware of.
Acknowledge the feelings you may associate with these likings and dislikes. Note that they could be so powerful, but write them down anyway. This is a great exercise in knowing—or rediscovering—yourself.
Watch out for trying to be “normal.” Don’t lie to yourself. Carefully think and discern the things that excite or turn you off in a heartbeat.
Some people won’t respect you … so what?
This simply is a reality you shouldn’t fight. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, but remember that most of the time, what they think about you is a reflection of themselves.
You can’t please everybody—you shouldn’t even.
Be proactive when dealing with disrespectful people. Don’t let others define who you are, or what you can do. You can’t get someone else to respect you if you don’t respect yourself.
Perhaps you’ve been on that kind of route, but finally decided to make your voice heard, to stand up for yourself … to respect yourself.
It’s just sad that sometimes, even though you’re trying to exterminate the ghosts of your past, the real people around you become the ghosts themselves.
Respect could simply be difficult to rebuild. But don’t worry—if you want true change, you can, and should, start with yourself. It will take time, but the rest will follow.
Acknowledge your strength over your thoughts.
You can treat all your thoughts the same—they are only thoughts after all. It’s only a matter of choosing which ones you’ll allow in your life every day, every waking hour, in every move.
If you play the negative self-talk loop in your head (sometimes without you knowing it), start a mental habit of also treating your negative thoughts as if they were all the same. It can be hard, because there are thoughts that can just hurt the bones.
If you treat them the same, however, you’ll be reminded of their sole purpose: to discourage you in any way possible.
When a negative thought keeps coming back, especially if you’ve been addicted to it, stop for a moment and say, “This is just a thought. I decide whether this gets into my head. Shoo.”
There will be times you’ll come back to and indulge in negative thoughts, but just walk at your own pace. I guarantee you there will be changes as long as you keep your strength and commit to it.
You’ll experience the shift from the daunting and negative mindset to the happy and positive one.
A little confidence helps.
It sounds redundant to talk about self-confidence when you’re working on your self-respect. But this is a challenge you can impose upon yourself whenever you hang out with other people.
Just try to act with confidence, exude positive vibes, smile. This positive aura you’re trying to build up will make people notice that hey, regardless of what happened yesterday, and what happens tomorrow—you are working on your self-confidence.
Like I said, your respect for yourself shouldn’t come from other people. There’s just something liberating in genuinely feeling good about yourself … and in others noticing it.
Hang out with people who inspire and respect you.
It’s so easy to get caught in a circle of people or “friends” because of a common interest, which is really cool in a lot of cases.
But along the way, you’ll learn about who or what they are … and are not. Sure, common interests are a nice way to start relationships, but watch out whether people are already demeaning you. There will be jokes thrown here and there, but putting someone else down is totally different.
You don’t deserve to be in a relationship in which your beliefs and feelings about yourself change—degradingly—because of other people.
You’ll eventually know what people will be generally up to, and unless your moral principles are not violated, learn to let go of this kind of people.
Don’t worry about not finding the right people—they are out there. You just have to look for them.
Incorporate healthy into your routine.
How you handle mundane tasks tell a lot about yourself—do you agree? Because heck, everything is made up of mundane things! Even that big and exciting project is not safe; that’s right, the things most special to you also include routine activities.
You’ve got the routine, alright, but my point here is that do things in ways that could benefit you—in all the aspects of your life. You can make time for something if you truly want it.
When it comes to self-respect, nothing beats routine that actually makes you a better person.
For example, eat right for your physical health, read books for mental health, do some volunteer work for emotional health, and meditate for spiritual health.
Reflect. Perhaps your self-respect is getting stale because you’re compromising one or some aspects of your life.
Do a good deed … for someone else.
Humans need one another. A lot of studies show how we long for the company of others, how our brain is wired to be social. We are social beings. You may find that interesting (introvert here, anyone?), but that’s simply our nature.
If you’re caught in a series of failures you’re already feeling down, why not rekindle your respect for yourself by channelling it instead to those who need it … by lending a hand?
If you learn about a friend who’s experiencing the same as you are, why not reach out to them? That is just an example, though. Good deeds are available almost everywhere. You can find ways to make them happen, and make the first move.
The word is forgiveness.
“But who do I forgive?” you might ask.
Start with yourself.
You are not perfect. You may have reached a huge achievement in your life, but accept that you still make mistakes, and it’s alright. To err is alright. Learn to move on—stop dwelling on the (especially bad) past.
Don’t fight it, learn to accept it. Not accepting the past is like trying to change it—and you can’t.
Does your past make you feel less of a person? Probably. But does your drive to get your self-respect back by changing your ways right now make you a better person? Absolutely.
When you know how to forgive yourself, forgiving others becomes easier. I know this is arguable, but this becomes a reflection effect again: you can’t forgive others if you can’t be one with yourself—by forgiving yourself first.
Low on self-respect? Do that one thing!
You’ve heard about following your passion, right? Doing something you know you’re very good at? Doing things that seem you were born to do?
You see, you don’t need anybody else to start doing those things. You just have to focus on one thing first, and then learn about yourself more as you go along.
It’s a bonus if somebody else notices your work—but it doesn’t really matter.
Respecting yourself means doing things you love, not those you don’t—especially not those that other people want you to do.
Grab every chance, every opportunity. Remember, a lot of people don’t get the chance to live life by their terms.
So think about one thing you’ve stopped doing because “life happened.” Will your soul come alive if you do it again? Can you still do it? What are the obstacles? Okay, you know what I’m going to say: Go for it. Start again.
Believe in yourself.
That means believing in what you learn along the way, believing in the decisions you have to make, and believing something good is coming.
Giving yourself the trust and belief you deserve is self-respect. It means you’re giving this a shot, because you know that no matter what happens, you will decide for yourself … and nobody else shouldn’t.
Take risks. You deserve to experience them—and much more the rewards waiting for you after you finally jump in.
Come on, enjoy the journey.
This could just be the biggest piece of advice I can give you.
You deserve to enjoy every bit of life.
Sometimes, when I feel so beat-up, I think of myself as my own boss.
Imagine talking face to face with your boss, one on one, closed door. Of course, you’d want to show them respect (because they’re your boss!). Now, whether they ask you to do some report, lead a team—or whatever—you’d want to make their life easier. You’d want them to enjoy their position of having you as their subordinate.
You are your own boss.
Taking your self-respect back could be easy or damn hard. But don’t forget that you’re on a journey, and it’s meant to be enjoyed—don’t deprive yourself of that, ever.
Think About It
Just like how life has its ups and downs, your self-respect has them, too.
If you’re in a bad position, realize the truth that it is but temporary—yes, it is, because you have the capacity to turn things around.
Don’t focus on feeling sorry for yourself. Instead, ask why you are feeling it.
What are the causes? Are there things in your life you should change but simply don’t want to because of some inconvenience? Do you need help?
Get to the core of it. Rediscover yourself. And savor once again the respect that only you can give yourself.
“I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man’s self-respect is a sin.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Speak Your Mind
How do you improve your self-worth? How do you get by during tough times? I’d love to hear from you!