Have you ever heard the common saying, “You have to give respect to get it?”
It’s true, but not necessarily in the way you might think. While it IS important to respect others, it’s not the number one way to ensure that they respect you.
When it comes to respect, it starts at home – with you.
If you don’t respect yourself, nobody else will either.
Why self-respect is important
Self-respect is the foundation for leading a life of integrity and honor. If you do not truly love yourself and respect yourself as a person, how will you find the courage to stand up for your own beliefs or have the backbone to enforce healthy boundaries?
The predators in life have a sixth sense for those who lack a healthy sense of self-respect and do everything in their power to exploit such weaknesses. Even “nice” people have a difficult time feeling sympathy for those that they perceive as lacking in self-respect.
How to respect yourself
Self-respect can be summed up by saying that it’s an acknowledgment of your inherent dignity and worth. Please note that it’s not tied to any particular achievement or ability: every person on this planet is born worthy of respect. In practice, this respect is not always given, but it’s important for you to know that self-respect is not necessarily predicated on meeting certain ideals.
If you find that you’re lacking a healthy sense of self-respect, there are ways that you can build it up:
Set healthy boundaries. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of or base your sense of self-worth on how others feel about you.
Take good care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, exercise, and use alcohol and other drugs in moderation.
Participate in activities that boost your confidence. This could be a hobby, athletics, community organization, volunteering. Anything that makes you feel good about yourself and leaves you feeling accomplished.
Practice seeing yourself as a worthy person. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you are loved just the way you are.
Surround yourself with people who are positive and treat others with respect. People with low self-esteem and little self-respect often band together and create a negative feedback loop. Often, the first step is to realize that other people can, and will, like you and that you don’t have to stay with the same crowd that’s dragging you down.
Once you respect yourself, you will find that it’s much easier to earn the respect of others. And even in situations where you don’t get the respect you deserve, you’ll have an internal sense of respect that will allow you to conduct yourself with dignity and grace.
Earning the respect of others
While it’s true that every human being is born inherently worthy of being treated with respect, there are some who stand out from the crowd and earn an extra portion. It could be because of their accomplishments, natural abilities, heroism or beauty.
You don’t have to be world renowned to gain increased respect. In our smaller circles there are those that others look up to more. It is within your power to become one of those people that others regard with an extra portion of respect. Here are some ways:
Carry yourself with confidence. It’s true, we often teach people how to treat us and when we project an air of confidence, people see us as successful.
Treat everyone with kindness and dignity.
However, set boundaries and don’t let others see you as a pushover.
Act with integrity.
Learn to cope with stress in a cool, calm manner.
Laugh and smile often.
Step up to the plate when things need to be done.
Speak your mind.
Look out for those who are helpless.
Be firm but fair.
Accept criticism with grace and an open mind.
Resist the urge to be defensive.
Admit your weaknesses.
Take pride in your accomplishments.
Put your heart into all that you do.
Human beings crave the respect of others; it’s coded into our DNA. When we feel like nobody respects us, it’s difficult for us to be positive and productive. When we don’t respect ourselves, we act in ways that our counter to our interests in an attempt to make ourselves feel better.
Cultivating self respect and earning the respect of others goes a long way toward leading a balanced, healthy, happy life.
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