It’s your day off. You’ve just finished spending half of your day doing favors for your “friends” and the other half being used as an emotional dumping ground by your sister/brother/parent. You’ve just made promises that you feel uncomfortable about with your boss on the phone and you’re feeling like a pile of crap. “What the f*ck is happening with my life?” you wonder with exasperation.
To put it bluntly, what’s happening is that you’re a people-pleaser who needs to build more self-respect.
Yes, you heard me. It’s time to give less fucks about what people think about you and start drawing some boundaries, saying no, and reclaim your personal sovereignty over your life.
It’s time to reconnect with your inner wolf.
What Is Self-Respect and Why Is It So Important?
Self-respect is a word that means honoring your worth, preserving your dignity, and taking pride in your abilities. Being self-respecting means that you believe at a core level that you’re worthy of being treated fairly and with courtesy.
Why is self-respect so important?
Without self-respect, we are susceptible to being used, abused, and mistreated by other people. Those who lack self-respect are often targets of unsavory types of people like narcissists and egomaniacs who enjoy using self-neglecting people as their lackeys. And who in their right mind would want to end up as fodder for those ratbags lurking in the dark corners of society?
Ultimately, self-respect is vital because it impacts every area of your life.
From your friendships and relationships to your work commitments, having self-respect ensures that you are treated well, given fair opportunities, have your needs and desires met, and remain on equal footing with other people. With no self-respect, you are prone to excessive self-sacrifice, letting yourself be walked over and used, abandoning your true self and authentic needs, giving up on your dreams, and other forms of self-abuse.
7 Examples of Self-Respect
Sometimes it helps to have a clear picture of what self-respect looks like so it’s not so cerebral. Here are some examples of self-respect:
- Refusing to be spoken to in an offensive way because you know you deserve to be treated well
- Cutting ties with a friend who is lazy and untrustworthy because you know you are worthy of having a dependable friend
- Setting strong boundaries around people who are energy vampires because you want to preserve your energy and not have it stolen
- Saying “no” to the unreasonable requests given by your child or family member because you respect your limits
- Having clear rules in your relationships such as “no lying” because you deserve to have an honest partner
- Refusing to settle for less in business deals because you know the worth of your work
- Not compromising your deepest values in favor of social acceptance
This list is by no means exhaustive, but I hope you get the idea! Also, don’t forget that you can leave a comment beneath this article just in case you need clarification.
What Are the Advantages of Having Self-Respect?
Oh boy, where do I start? Consciously developing self-respect is the very foundation of self-love and self-care. Here are some of the advantages of having self-respect:
- You honor your needs, desires, and values
- You feel empowered to say “no” and draw boundaries
- You have more energy to dedicate to yourself and your dreams
- You feel a sense of equality with others
- You respect the quality of your work
- You choose better friends, partners, and workplaces
- You feel happy and fulfilled in your romantic life
- You feel happy and fulfilled in your business life
- You feel a greater sense of self-trust and therefore self-confidence
- You know how to protect yourself
- You feel powerful and a sense of authority over your life
- You’re capable of practicing self-love and self-care
Another advantage of having self-respect is that you give yourself permission to follow your dreams and goals – instead of getting lost in managing or peddling everyone else’s BS.
Now doesn’t this sound like a big sigh of relief!?
13 Signs It’s Time to Build Some Goddamn Self-Respect!
When we lack self-respect, it’s like the fire within us has been dimmed. Our inner wolf has been captured. We have been domesticated and we don’t know how to protect ourselves.
Pay attention to the following signs and see how many you relate to:
- You always seem to attract people who mistreat or use you
- You have no time for yourself
- You feel exhausted most of the time due to your commitments to others
- You settle for less
- You feel inferior to or ‘less than’ others
- You struggle to speak up
- You can’t seem to say “no”
- You lack self-confidence
- You’re there for everyone, but no one is ever there for you
- You undervalue your strengths, gifts, and achievements
- You let others walk over you
- You’re excessively afraid of what others think about you
- You feel overall unhappy with the quality of your life
Stop and think. How many of these signs can you relate to? Don’t worry if you resonate with most of them. You’re certainly not alone – this is a big issue many people struggle with (including myself in the past).
How to Build and Gain Self-Respect
If you are used to bending over backward for people, building self-respect will be difficult.
If you are acclimatized to obsessing over other’s feelings/thoughts about you, gaining self-respect will also be hard. Furthermore, if you have been conditioned in a family or culture to put your needs last, self-respect will feel extremely elusive.
But don’t fret.
All habits require time, persistence, and reward (reinforcement). Below you’ll find out how to harness this winning formula to your advantage.
Here are some simple steps you can take to build and gain self-respect:
1. Spend time passionately affirming your worth
Your inner dialogue – the voice constantly chattering within your brain – has tremendous power. In order to build more self-respect, you will need to override the negative self-talk that causes you to devalue yourself.
When I write “passionately affirm your worth” what I mean is that you need to sincerely believe that you are worthy. At first, this may take some time and effort. But the more frequently you affirm your worth, the more your thinking patterns will change.
How can you passionately affirm your worth? Using affirmations is the simplest path – for example, simply repeating “I am worthy of respect” whenever you feel disempowered during the day will help to transform your inner talk. But what I recommend above all is to practice daily mirror work.
2. Practice mirror work
Mirror work is the practice of standing in front of a mirror, looking directly into your eyes, and saying something loving or empowering to yourself.
In front of the mirror, we can see all of our fears, insecurities, and desires – and that is precisely what makes this type of inner work so powerful. So try it out.
Stand in front of a mirror for 10 minutes each day and repeat (passionately) that you are worthy of respect. You may also like to adjust your body posture as you do this into a confident stance, e.g. standing up tall, with your chest out, and feet firmly planted to the ground. Changing your body posture will also have a positive effect on your mentality and almost instantly give you a big dose of confidence and self-belief.
3. Define your non-negotiable values
What do you value in yourself and others? What are you absolutely NOT willing to drop, abandon or compromise deep down? In order to develop self-respect, you will need to identify your values. Examples of values include:
- Work/Life Balance
- Sense of Humor
- Ethical Living
Go on your favorite search engine and type in “list of values” for more ideas to help get you started. Then, get a piece of paper ready and write down what is 100% non-negotiable for you. Keep this piece of paper close to you and look at it each day.
4. Develop interests outside of other people and their BS
Let’s face it, dealing with drama can be exhausting BUT it can also be pretty damn exciting. Not only do you get to feel like a rescuer/savior, but you get to witness your very own real-life soap opera.
Many people who lack self-respect get addicted to the drama of those around them. Don’t be that person. Start exploring hobbies, interests, and projects outside of other people. Take a free personality test (or three) in our test area and figure out what your strengths and proclivities are. Find a channel on youtube you enjoy watching and learn something new that makes you feel empowered.
5. Set clear boundaries and rules
You have the right to set rules. I know that the word “rules” may sound overly authoritarian and reminiscent of old-school headmasters, but rules are basically parameters. Rules define what you will and will not do – and what others can and cannot do when around you. Without rules, life is chaos. Without rules, others can walk all over you without blinking an eye.
The best way to set clear rules (i.e. the basis of strong and healthy boundaries) is to pay attention to your feelings. If you struggle to identify how you feel, pay attention to your body. Does your stomach feel queasy when your colleague asks you to put in extra hours even though you promised to spend more time with the kids? If so, say no politely and draw a line. (And have a self-respecting plan B and C if your colleague persists.) Do you get an intense headache every time you talk to a certain person? If so, limit your contact with them.
Check out our article on setting personal boundaries for more guidance.
6. Don’t undersell yourself
If you struggle to identify the worth of your time, energy, creations or products, do some research. Research those in your field and look for a handful of people you admire. Have a conversation with them, follow them on social media or look at their website (if they have one).
How do these people you look up to market themselves? Identify similar services or products they offer and compare/contrast the differences. If you need an objective opinion, join an online group (you can find many on facebook) catering to your profession and ask for help. If you struggle with imposter syndrome (most people with low self-respect do) focus on doing some shadow work to help you explore the underlying core beliefs you have about yourself.
In terms of relationships, make a conscious effort to put your best foot forward. Look for the qualities you like the most in yourself and highlight those. Don’t undersell yourself by connecting with those who don’t fully resonate with you. Would you prefer to be happy with yourself, but be alone – or feel horrible about yourself and be in an unfulfilling relationship? Those who respect themselves prefer to wait until the right person comes along rather than throw themselves at anyone who looks their way. See yourself as worthy of a genuine soulmate.
7. Practice self-care “religiously”
When I say religiously, I mean frequently and routinely each day. To practice self-care means to see your needs as worthy of paying attention to. In other words, self-care is a form of self-respect. Nurture your body, heart, mind, and spirit. Eat the right foods, get enough sleep, exercise, feed your mind with knowledge, and have a daily spiritual practice. By committing to self-care, you will naturally and automatically be increasing your levels of self-respect.Read more about self-care.
8. Be proud of who you are, not what you do
Self-respect means honoring how far you’ve come in life. It means embracing the essence of who you are. Please don’t confuse self-respect with what you do. Yes, you can be proud of your achievements, but your achievements don’t define you. If you let your successes define you, you will also let your failures define you – and that is no measure of healthy self-worth! To have stable self-respect, you need to love yourself from the inside out, not the outside in. Does that make sense?
As Aristotle tells us, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act but a habit.”
To truly make self-respect part of your very being, to reunite with the wolf within you that refuses to be trampled over, you need to practice repeatedly. With the above tried-and-tested tips, you have a map that you can refer back to on your journey towards self-empowerment.