How to Build Self-Respect

How to Build Self-Respect: 5 Steps to a Healthy Self-image

Self-respect and happiness go hand in hand. However, if you`re to label my generation with a single word, it will be:


It’s hard to build self-respect today especially with the huge pressure me and my generation face. We always have to do more, experience more, look better and be 10X tougher than our seniors or else we`ll miss out. The world is moving fast, and none is keeping up. So we blame and beat up ourselves and lose self-respect in the process.

If you think you`re unworthy, underachieving, not good, smart or fun enough then these five habits will help you build the self-respect you need to survive today`s world. Here they are:

1. Self-respect requires lots of discipline (There`s no other way)

The quickest way to build self-respect is to keep the promises you make to yourself; “I`ll wake up early, I`ll hit the gym today, I`ll never smoke again..etc.” There`s a spark of satisfaction you`ll feel each time you behave the way you know is correct.

There`s a link between self-discipline and happiness. When it was time for the Stanford research team to catch up with the kids who took the famous marshmallow test, they noticed that the kids who had self-discipline grew to have more money, better careers, higher self-esteem and more happiness than those who failed the test.

So, take the time to build your self-discipline muscles. Find three positive habits that you like to have in your life and stick to them: Meditation, cold showering or yoga. These small habits will fix any lack of discipline you may have.

I`ve been doing intermittent fasting for the past five years, and it`s one of the best decisions I`ve ever made. I recommend that you do it, not just for its many health benefits, but also because it will toughen you up mentally.  Imagine what will happen to your discipline if you resist the urge to eat for sixteen hours, every day. You`re going to be a beast. You`ll look great and be proud of yourself.

2. Less of the white lies

You can tell if a person has high or low self-esteem by how bold they are. Those who choose to tell the truth over fabricating a little, approval-seeking white lie have more self-respect than those who don`t.

I like myself better when I tell my friends that I was late cause I was lazy and took an hour to dress up than if I told them the typical “bad traffic” lie. I also like myself better when I give a new client the exact time the job needs to be done instead of agreeing on their imaginary, ultra-strict deadline and disappoint them later.

Of course, there will be times when you have to lie to compliment someone or cover up for another, but lying should never be your thing.

Have the guts to tell the truth, and you`ll be amazed at how charismatic and bold people will see you. And of course, you`ll have more self-respect.

3. Have more compassion for yourself

Many self-help experts, including the well-renowned Brené Brown, believe self-compassion is more critical to your emotional well-being than self-esteem.

According to Kristin Neff, a psychology professor at the University of Texas, having self-compassion means that you treat yourself with the same of kindness you offer to your friends and family members.

You must have the awareness and dedication to change your self-talk from sabotaging to encouraging and treat yourself the way you treat your very best friend.

You also need to stop shaming your feelings and treat yourself as an awesomely flawed being.

Accept the fact that you`ll feel nervous, scared, bored, insecure, incapable from time to time —because you are human— and erase the term, “I shouldn`t feel that” from your dictionary. You must accept that:

  • Your heart will pump, and your legs will shake whenever you confront someone.
  • You`ll still feel nervous around attractive people.
  • You may still be afraid of bullies, or anyone that even looks like an old bully.

Decide to accept all emotions, good or bad, without self-shaming, and you`ll feel less overwhelmed by them. I was a shy kid and used to feel somewhat awkward around people.

The day I decided to embrace that nervousness was the day I began to feel more confident around people because I no longer had anything to hide.

Today, and whenever I feel bad, I embrace it, joke about it and be cool with it. Usually, I`ll feel much better within minutes, or even seconds, from doing this.

4. Win (consistently)

  “Small goals, achieved frequently, make us happier than giant goals achieved every once in a while.” – Loretta Breuning

Every one of us has a sincere desire to win, fulfill it, and you`ll have more respect for yourself. I watched a video for Gary Veynerchuck talking about how his mother shaped his positive self-talk by stressing over his good qualities.

She over-exaggerated when I did very kind and Nobel things. I once opened the door for a woman at McDonald`s, and my mom treated it as if I won the Nobel Peace Prize” Veynerchuck said.

But how can you emphasize over your good qualities?

By using the two methods recommended by Loretta Breuning, psychologist, and author of The Happy Brain. Here they are:

  • Count your wins

Get a pen and paper, and list every major victory you`ve ever achieved. Then refer to this list every once in a while to motivate yourself.

  • Set goals and reach them

Want a quick way to prosperity and self-respect? Each morning, set one priority for the day and don`t go to bed unless you achieve it. It`s so simple, powerful, and will fulfill the desire to win that your soul yearns to.

5. Take good care of your looks

I just read a post for an Indian engineer listing the pros and cons of living in the US, and one of the few he saw was that fat people don`t get much respect.

Fat people are not respected much in society. Being fat often has the same connotations as being irresponsible towards your body,” he said.

I`m not here for a debate, but I want to highlight that the heavier you get, the harder it is for you to build self-respect. On the inside, working out builds mental toughness and self-discipline, and we talked earlier on their benefits. On the outside, dressing well and looking healthy makes you feel wanted which positively feeds your ego.

Yes, food is gooood, but being overweight robs you of a lot of a lot of things including a strong sense of self-respect.

The solution?

Pick a healthy lifestyle that you enjoy and stick to it —FOREVER. It doesn`t matter how slow you start or how much weight you have to drop. What matters is being consistent and building a healthy lifestyle that lasts.

 Marwan Jamal is a soccer-playing, food-loving, joke-cracking New York-based wellness writer. You can say hi to me here


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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