Self respect is defined as ‘pride and confidence in oneself;a feeling that one is behaving with honour and dignity’, and as “a feeling of respect for yourself that shows that you value yourself”.
Low self worth can very negatively affect our self-respect, as we can not feel ‘pride and confidence in ourselves’ or ‘the respect for ourselves’ if we do not value ourselves (perceive ourselves as worthy). Self worth is, therefor, the foundation of healthy self respect. When we do not value ourselves enough to set healthy boundaries, and we do not respect ourselves, we cannot expect other people to treat us with respect either.
It is important to distinguish that self respect is not arrogance, but healthy sense of pride in ourselves, derived from the objective observation and positive acknowledgement of our own value, qualities, strength of character, accomplishments, knowledge, experience, skills, and unique personality traits.
Along with self worth, another fundamental building block of self respect is self-discipline. In order to feel healthy sense of pride in ourselves, we need to be proud of ourselves (honour our word, our commitments, and our promises, commit to achieving our goals, and stay true to our core values).
Reflect for a moment – would you feel deep sense of respect and admiration for someone who is not congruent (speaks one thing and does another), doesn’t honour his/her word and commitments, never fulfils a promise or complete what he/she started, or does not stay committed to accomplishing any goal or New Year’s resolutions? Probably not. Same way, how can you feel pride in yourself (a.k.a. respect yourself) if you lack self-discipline and strength of character and if you are not true to your core values?
Just like we need strong self discipline (being able to say “NO” to ourselves – any time we feel urge for unhealthy food, skipping the exercise, procrastinating on writing new chapter of our book, feeling like going out instead on working on our business idea…) in order to build self respect, we also need strong boundaries in relationships with other people (be able to say “NO” and set the standards for what kind of behaviour we will not tolerate).
If you do not set healthy boundaries in relationships, you are on a conscious (and subconscious) level conveying the message to others that they can treat you disrespectfully, and take advantage of you as much as they want to. If other people perceive us as someone who’s “NO” always means “I’ll agree eventually, if you ask me few times more/ bag me/ manipulate me/ emotionally blackmail me”, then you cannot expect they will treat you with respect or ever take your “NO”, or your word seriously! An old Belisean proverb says:
If other people do not ‘take you seriously’, ask yourself if you are taking your word, your goals, and your commitments to self seriously? Does your “NO” truly mean ‘NO”? Do you live what you preach and ‘walk your talk”?
If other people criticise you a lot, ask yourself do you often criticise yourself or engage in negative self talk? If other people do not value you, ask yourself if you value yourself enough? If other people do not respect you, ask yourself do you respect yourself enough?
Reflect on how would you treat person you respect a lot? Do you treat yourself that way? Once you start treating yourself as a person worthy of respect, you will set an example for others how to treat you respectfully.