Updated: Dec 30, 2022
Hello beautiful humans!
What is Self-Respect? How do you know if you have it? Why is it important? How do you obtain it? All valid questions! I will admit when I first started exploring the topic of Self-Respect, I thought I knew the answers to each of them, but I soon found that the answers can be a bit more complex than I had originally thought. Never fear! I dug and read and read and dug and I'm pretty confident that I have the answers to these questions and more.
What is Self-Respect?
Cynthia Stark has a published theme in the Rutledge Encyclopedia (cited below) that goes into a deep look at what self-respect is and even explains that there are multiple types of self-respect. We aren't going to dive quite so far in, but her article does give a lot of clarity and I especially like the first two sentences as a definition.
"Self-respect is a multifaceted notion involving a constellation of attitudes,
beliefs, desires, dispositions, commitments, expectations, actions and
emotions that express or constitute one’s sense of one’s worth. It includes a
recognition and understanding of one’s worth, as well as a desire and
disposition to protect and preserve it."
~Cynthia Stark (Excerpt from Self-Respect)
In a nutshell, self-respect is having confidence and dignity in a person's own self worth. Although self-confidence and self-esteem tend to go hand in hand with self-respect, they really aren't the same thing. esteem and confidence are more about how you feel about yourself, while respect is more about how you treat yourself and allow others to treat you.
How do you know if you have self-respect or a lack of?
I think that it is actually easier to see when you don't have self-respect than the other way around. Having a lack of self-respect is being constantly negative about who you are. Making negative jokes and comments about yourself and allowing others to treat your poorly. Thinking that you are undeserving, that others are better than you and taking the blame for things that you are not at fault for. Feeling like a consistent failure and running yourself down to yourself and others. These are just a few of the signs that you may have little to no self-respect.
Why is it important?
I can give you the topical answer, like so many others, 'because it's good for your well-being and health and blah, blah, blah,' and although that is true there is actually a more scientific answer that I think is important to understand. It's in our DNA. The very fabric of what makes us human.
Negative emotions and behaviors are more impactful on our brains than positive emotions and behaviors. Why? Well, it stems back to our very beginnings as humans, believe it or not. Our brains told us when negative situations arise, we need to protect ourselves to stay safe and alive. Our brains would flood with the stress hormone (aka Cortisol) and we would know there was danger near. After generations of this happening, our brains evolved to treat negative emotions and behaviors as important for our very survival.
Our brains didn't view positive emotions and behaviors in the same way. There was no danger so the impact on our brains was 'lighter' (for lack of a better word). There wasn't the importance of survival imprinted with positive emotions and behaviors making them less impactful.
Lack of self-respect impacts us in negative ways. We talk down to and about ourselves and allow others to do the same. Our brain takes those negative situations and says, "this is important", so it causes our mind and body to react in survival mode to protect itself. It begins to start shutting down our emotions. I'm not going to go into the depression and anxiety end of the spectrum as that is too far down the rabbit hole from where we started, but you get the idea.
How do you obtain it?
There were 9 steps for me to find my own self-respect. It was difficult journey, but a rewarding one and well worth the time and effort to accomplish. I'm happier and healthier and if you can walk through the tunnel of self awareness to the other side, I think that you will be able to appreciate who you really are as well.
Without further ado, here are my 9 Steps to Self-Respect
Be completely honest with yourself - This is perhaps the hardest step. Face it, the truth sometimes hurts, but you have to be honest with each step of the process or you will not gain the clarity you need to succeed.
Accept who you are - You're not perfect. That's ok, none of us are. Accept your flaws as well as your attributes. Don't make them grander than they are. Just accept them at face value. This will help you set the foundation for your progress forward.
Forgive yourself and let it go - Don't just say it, mean it. You're human. Humans, as we have already established, are not perfect. Sometimes we make bad decisions. Sometimes we try to hard or make mistakes. It's ok! Forgive yourself and let it go! Continuing to dwell will lead no where.
Forget about everyone else - You don't need their approval. You don't need to rely on others to feel good about yourself. You don't need others to tell you who you are, what you like, how to act, etc. Be who you want to be and not who everyone else wants you to be.
Declare your values and priorities - Write them down in a journal, recite them in the mirror every morning or when you meditate. Believe them! Understand that your brain will start to believe what repetitively comes from your mouth so be positive.
Have integrity - Stay true to your values. Take a stand for what you believe in. Understand your self-worth and align the things, people, career, hobbies, everything in your life around your values and priorities. Build the life you want to have your way and by your own standards.
Set Healthy Boundaries - Boundaries aren't just for others, they're for you to. Boundaries help us to eliminate our tolerations and surround ourselves with what we value most. (Read the previous blogs on Tolerations and Setting Boundaries). You don't have to put up with the negative things in your life that drain your energy and fill you with negativity.
Live unapologetically - I love this one! Don't apologize for being you. That doesn't mean it's ok for you to be a jerk and not feel sorry for it. That means that it's ok to be a little selfish sometimes. It's ok to look after you first. It's ok to receive as much as you give and it is ok to ask for it.
Love yourself unconditionally - That means endlessly and no matter what. There is no reason for you not to love who you are right now in this moment. Let go of the past, stop worrying about the future and love the human being you are right now.
There is one more thing that I want to say about respect in general, for yourself and others. Most people like to think that respect is earned. I call BS! It is not earned, it is given. Just because a person feels as though they have earned my respect, it is up to me if I want to give it to them. The same goes for ourselves. You don't need to earn self-respect to have self-respect. Give it to yourself freely. It's a gift!
Do one thing each day to show yourself that you have respect for your mind, your body and/or your spirit.
Morals of the Story:
Self-respect is having confidence and dignity in a person's own self worth.
Lack of self-respect has a negative impact on our minds and bodies.
Obtaining self-respect is hard work but it is worth it
There are 9 steps outlined above to my journey of finding self-respect.